Stretch Mark Treatments: Do They Actually Work?

By:    Published: August 8, 2011

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Skin can be quite flexible, but when it grows at a rapid pace due to pregnancy or weight gain, it does not always bounce back. This typically causes a form of scarring called stretch marks. Unfortunately, getting stretch marks to disappear is extremely a difficult. Treatments and methods for removing stretch marks have varying degrees of success, but the results for any treatment can be affected by age and skin tone. The following are some of the top stretch mark treatments. Read on to find out what these treatments involve and what results can be expected for each.

Topical Treatments and Lotions

Most drug stores offer a variety of creams that are intended to reduce stretch marks. Even more of these topical treatments can be found online, and there are even a few prescription topical treatments for stretch marks available as well. These creams often contain ingredients like glycolic acid, which exfoliates and moisturizers the skin, and allantoin, which stimulates the growth of health tissue. If you prefer a cream with natural ingredients, look for ones that contain cocoa butter to moisturize, and sea minerals to stimulate skin renewal and blood circulation, says The Daily Mail. There are also some creams that contain an herbal extract called centella asiatica, or drugs called retinoids, which is derived from vitamin A.

Unfortunately, the results for these creams are typically poor. Many dermatologists agree that there is little that can be done to get rid of stretch marks once they appear. The only products that seem to have any effect on the appearance of stretch marks are those containing retinoids. These worked the best on women who were trying to reduce the appearance of their stretch marks after a pregnancy. It's important to note, however, that these creams cannot be used during a pregnancy or while breastfeeding because they contain high levels of vitamin A which could be harmful to the fetus.

Additionally, there have been some studies that connect centella asiatica to the prevention of stretch marks. This is helpful for individuals who know that they are at risk for developing stretch marks, such as pregnant women or those suffering from obesity.

Laser Treatments

Laser treatments are another option for reducing the appearance of stretch marks. According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, there are different types of lasers that can be used depending on the color of the stretch marks themselves. With this method, darker stretch marks can be lightened or lighter stretch marks can have their pigment-making cells stimulated. There is also a laser option that is intended to improve the elasticity in stretch marks that need to be smoothed out.

In general, laser treatments are slightly more effective than creams when it comes to reducing the appearance of stretch marks. Though they rarely eliminate stretch marks completely, they can often help them blend in to the surrounding skin. However, the success with this method is often dependent on an individual's skin type and tone, so it's important to consult a doctor about the possible results before undergoing this procedure. Also, those who expect to get more stretch marks (such as mothers who intend to have more children) may want to wait before having this procedure done.

Cover-Up Options

While it's not a treatment that offers lasting results, another method for reducing the appearance of stretch marks is using a cover-up product. Some of these options are different bodily make-up products that can be chosen according to skin tone. For the best results, look for long-lasting make-up that is sweat and water-resistant. This will help the product to stay on longer and have a more complete cover-up effect.

Other options for covering up stretch marks include self-tanning lotions and spray-on tanning methods. These can help even out the skin tone and reduce the appearance of stretch marks in specific areas. In terms of skin health, lotions and sprays are quite safe because they don't involve exposure to UV rays. Plus, KidsHealth.org explains that traditional tanning methods don't work anyway because stretch marks generally don't tan much, if at all. That means tanning in the sun or in a tanning bed could actually increase the appearance of stretch marks. If you do go in the sun, wear a high SPF sunscreen to keep stretch marks from becoming more obvious as the skin tans.

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