Some women look at stretch marks as battle scars, like something they’ve earned for a job well done, like a major weight loss or pregnancy. Others don’t feel the same and will go to any length to try and get rid of them.
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Stretch marks can appear pretty much anywhere on the body like the stomach, hips, arms, upper thighs, butt and breasts. Even though they have no impact on the health of your skin, the older the stretch mark is, the whiter in color it is—newer ones (about a year old or less) tend to be more on the red or purple side.
While they don’t form overnight because the marks are technically skin that’s become stretched out and ripped internally usually due to weight gain, they can change the texture of the skin. And, getting your skin back to baseline can be quite difficult.
While some experts feel that products that claim to target stretch marks don’t do much of anything, others say that using products that help skin the well hydrated and stimulate collagen won’t hurt. “You can also use exfoliators that contain alphahydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, to help improve the stretch marks,” says Westlake Village, CA, plastic surgeon Yuly Gorodisky, MD. “Another at-home remedy patients use is needle rolling using a roller device.”
If you want to take your efforts to the next level, your best bet is a series of fractional laser resurfacing treatments, which can really help to stimulate collagen in the areas where the skin is thin in the marks. “Fractional lasers cause the stretch marks to contract, making them less apparent,” says Dr. Gorodisky. “While they don’t erase the stretch marks, they can be made to appear thinner and less visible. The results all vary on your age, skin quality and the size of the stretch marks.” Keep in mind that you may need to repeat the laser to maintain the collagen content in your skin.
In some patients, stretch marks are accompanied by loose skin, which is more so the case on the stomach than other parts of the body (usually due to pregnancy or massive weight loss). When that’s the case, you may need to couple your laser treatments with something else, like a radio-frequency skin tightener to help firm your skin. “When there’s a lot of loose skin and stretch marks, surgical excision is the only permanent way to get rid of them,” says Dr. Gorodisky.