Bothered by Stretch Marks? You’re Not Alone
Roughly 75% of women will develop stretch marks during pregnancy. They can appear on the belly, sides, thighs, breasts, arms and buttocks. They can also happen during puberty, or at times of rapid weight gain, as well as from some medications or medical conditions.
Given how common they are, it’s not surprising that in my daily practice as a cosmetic dermatologist, I see a lot of women with stretch marks, and most are looking for a “magic bullet” to get rid of them. So here are my thoughts on stretch marks.
What are stretch marks?
One may think of stretch marks, or striae, as we dermatologists like to call them, as a scar, due to a tear in the dermis, or middle layer, of the skin. This results in loss of some of the proteins that give skin its elasticity, resulting in that classic wrinkly reddish or purplish line. With time, these tend to fade on their own into flesh-colored or white lines.
Can you prevent them?
Before you invest in those yummy smelling tummy-butters, think twice. There are many remedies marketed to eliminate or fade stretch marks, but a large review looking at over 800 women using difference topical preparations including vitamin E, cocoa butter, and alphastria, concluded these creams do not prevent stretch marks.
Can you get rid of them?
Unfortunately, stretch marks are notoriously challenging to treat. Since they are scars, it is impossible to completely cure or eliminate them. That being said, several treatment options exist that can diminish their appearance and have them blend in with the surrounding skin, typically using laser and light devices. In my consultations, I always start off by asking my people what end-result they are looking for with their stretch marks, and try to guide them to a very realistic expectation. I have found in my practice that the earlier you treat the stretch mark the better the result. Treatments are typically quick and comfortable.