How Do I Get Rid of Stretch Marks?

What works for stretch marks?  Is there any cream or lotion I can use?

Doctor Answers (14)

Lasers can help lessen stretch marks

+5

The question whether creams help for the treatment of stretch marks is open. I have found that use of several creams prior to laser treatment is helpful. If utilized alone they don't usually make too much of a difference except for the occasional ' great responder' . The creams that I utilize most are the alphahydroxyacids and retinoic acid in varying concentrations depending on the skin type and the severity of the problem. I have also had great success utilizing the pulsed dye laser as well as other lasers including The fraxel,excimer, and erbium lasers. The average improvement in my published studies on over 100 patients was between 50 to 65 per cent depending on the variable being analyzed. The variables include the color, extent of skin depression , surface texture, elasticity, and the extent of lesions. The area of the body, the skin color,and the extent are some of the many variables which may help determine the number of treatments and the likelihood of success. Our patients have had great success with the treatment if they are patient for the 2 to 4 treatments required. With additional laser treatments we can achieve even higher success.


Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Abdominoplasty is a great way to get rid of stretch marks.

+2

There is no easy way to get rid of stretch marks. One way to get rid of stretch marks between your belly button and your pubis is an abdominoplasty. Many women develop stretch marks during pregnancy in this area and come for consultation after childbirth. If you are done having children and wish to both remove the stretch marks and tighten up the loose skin, then abdominoplasty is a great choice. I hope you have found this helpful.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Unfortunately, there are no products that work on...

+2

Unfortunately, there are no products that work on stretch marks. Stretch marks are caused by weakness of skin and over-stretching, resulting in breaking of the dermis and subsequent scarring.

When these are fresh, they can be a dark purple color; however, they diminish in thickness and fade to a white silvery color over time. They get lighter with time on their own, but unfortunately, there are no creams or lotions to get rid of them.

Jeannette Graf, MD
Long Island City Dermatologist

You might also like...

How Do I Get Rid of Stretch Marks?

+1
Since creams and lotions do not work, it is nice to have a real treatment at this time for stretch marks that is effective. The Palomar Lux 1540 is FDA approved for the treatment of stretch marks. After tyring other laser for ten years to see if they would help, it was nice to finally have a laser that is effective and safe. Many lasers are on the market for other indications, and doctors and patients were always hopeful that some of them could be used for stretch marks as well as their approved indications, e.g. hair removal. However, they did not work for stretch marks and had a common side effect of hyperpigmenting the skin. Althought there is a small risk of post treatment hyperpigmentation with the Palomar Lux 1540, it is usually transient and can be treated or pre-treated in darker skinned patients with hydroquinone. It is important to realize that "treating" stretch marks is done to improve their appearance in a way that is satisfying to patients. Since a stretch mark is like a scar, with thin, attenuated abnormal skin, it can not be erased and made to appear like normal skin. But the treatment does thicken the skin, make the shininess diminish, make the width narrower, creates a more healthy skin structure by repopulating the stretch mark with collagen and elasic fibers and so makes the stretch-mark containing skin look more normal. There is a very high patient satisfaction rate with Lux 1540 fractional laser treatment. One should plan on at least 4-6 treatments at three week intervals and be patient while the changes are occurring.

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Stretch mark removal

+1

I wish there was an easy answer!  Unfortunately stretch marks cannot be removed by any non-surgical method. The only way they can be removed is through surgery. Stretch marks are caused because the skin is stretched beyond its capacity to recoil. Its like a rubber band that is over stretched and can never regain its original shortened length. Any laser that claims to tighten skin has not addressed the basic physiologic problem which is a dermis that is overstretched. The laser will however help the coloration but the stretch marks themselves will persist. You have to ask yourself if the goal is stretch mark removal or if its the discoloration that bothers you. Your best option is to have them surgically remove where appropriate. Unfortunately not all areas are amenable to surgery. Visit with a plastic surgeon.

Raj S. Ambay, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Stretch mark lasers used in clinical practice

+1

In my office, I use two different lasers for stretch marks.  These lasers can tighten loose skin and stretch marks. The fractional co2 laser has now become a very useful modality for stretch marks. Raffy Karamanoukian, Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Stretch mark cure?

+1

A stretch mark occurs when the tissue underneath the skin enlarges more than the overlying skin can stretch.  This causes the thick deep part of the skin (the dermis) to rip apart but the top layer of the skin does not rip.  The results is an area of skin which is very thin next to a normal thickness area.  The resultant stretch mark is often blue or purple at first but eventually becomes lighter than the surrounding skin and less noticeable.  The ability of the skin to stretch is determined by the amount of elastin in the dermis.  Some people have a lot and therefore get no stretch marks while others have very little and therefore get them easily.  

There is no cure for a stretch mark but there may be ways to make them less noticeable.    You can hasten the maturation to a lighter color through a variety of laser treatments.  For mature stretch marks you can camouflage them with make up or cut them out with surgery.

You can not prevent them no matter what lotions you put on your skin.  I have heard people swear by everything from Vit E, to lotions, to coco butter but in reality the elastin is in the genes or it is not.  Topical agents are not going to increase the elastin in the skin so save your money.

Chad K. Wheeler, MD
Spokane Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Getting Rid of Stretch Marks

+1

"Stretch Marks" are a misnomer. These are not marks but full-thickness skin cracks. As the skin is rapidly stretched by obesity or pregnancy the skin actually cracks. Initially, the fault lines are filled by blood vessels and immature scar tissue but with time as the blood vessels go away they are replaced by silvery scar tissue. Since these scars extend the full thickness of the damaged skin they cannot be erased by ANY chemical, laser or treatment currently on the market. If you hear of a treatment that promises to rid you of your stretch marks, I will guarantee the "treatment" will be far more effective in getting rid of your hard earned money!

The ONLY way to get rid of stretch marks are body contouring operations such as Tummy Tuck / Abdominoplasty in which the loose lower tummy skin removed may have a large portion of the stretch marks.

Dr. Peter A Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Palomar Lux 1540 Laser works best!

+1

Until now there were few options for stretch mark treatments. Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared Palomar's fractional laser treatment for stretch marks, practitioners now have an excellent aesthetic solution for their clients.  Palomar's fractional non-ablative skin resurfacing laser minimizes the appearance of stretch marks with no downtime. The Lux1540 laser handpiece improves the unsightly color and skin texture associated with stretch marks, leaving clients with smoother, better-looking skin.  A single treatment session typically costs $500 – $1,000, and at least three treatments are usually required. 

Marisa Lawrence, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

The goal is improvement of stretch marks

+1

As the panel members have mentioned, stretch marks should be accepted as permanent. Although abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) may be a good option for many, it is not always the best option. For example, some of our patients come to us after being told that they were not a good candidate for surgery - meaning there was not enough extra skin or tissue to remove. For others, the stretch marks were in places that an abdominoplasty would not address. For example, the stretch marks may be high on the abdomen, on the breasts, flanks, or even to buttocks and arms.

Although class IV medical lasers will not erase stretch marks, they do offer a good option in resolving the color that is associated with stretch marks as well as improving the texture around the stretch marks to minimize their appearance. In our experience, medium to darker skin types have a tendency to experience darkening of the stretch marks that generally do not fade within a reasonable amount of time or do not fade at all. Lasers are an excellent modality in fading these areas when the body does not or has not done so in an acceptable length of time. In fact, research now suggests that earlier intervention may actually enhance outcomes.

We agree that ointments and creams only offer false hope. However, there is no reason one should assume that there are no options inasmuch as technology continues to prove otherwise. If your goal is improvement -- then finding the right practitioner with the correct technology is an excellent step in the right direction.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.