They show up on the stomach, hips, upper thighs, butt and breasts—pesky stretch marks that do nothing for the look of your skin. Blame it on weight gain, genetics or pregnancy, once a stretch mark forms, it can be nearly impossible to get rid of. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), some 90 percent of women will develop stretch marks during their sixth and seventh months of pregnancy.
Often the result of skin that has become stretched out and ripped internally, stretch marks are, as some women say, a labor of love (especially when they are the result of pregnancy). New stretch marks will appear red or purple; older ones may look silver or white in color. Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD, says stretch marks tend to appear darker than the normal skin due to the visibility of vessels under the skin and are commonly seen after pregnancy. “Stretch marks represent the skin handling extreme tension that would otherwise cause complete ripping of the skin,” he says.
Lighten Up With a Laser
The look of stretch marks can be reduced with the right laser. “There is an FDA-approved option (the Palomar 1540 device) that provides nonsurgical improvement in stretch marks of all skin types. The treatment is done in a series of six to eight sessions and there’s no downtime,” says Dr. Few.
Camouflage Them With a Tummy Tuck
Dr. Few says putting the skin under tension or stretching it can camouflage stretch marks. Done with a tummy tuck (or a bodylift surgery following massive weight loss), extra skin that is laden with stretch marks is cut out and any existing skin (with them) is pulled up and tightened to minimize their appearance.
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