How Can I Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks?

From what I've read, it doesn't seem like there is anything I can do to completely get rid of stretch marks, but I'd like to know some options for at least reducing the appearance of stretch marks.  Thanks.

Doctor Answers 4

Reducing red or white stretch marks

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Stretch marks can be divided into two groups: red and white.

  • The red stretch marks appear first and can be converted to the less noticeable white stretch marks with various laser treatments (designed to reduce the red appearance).
  • The white stretch marks are, unfortunately, very difficult to treat. Individual practitioners have reported varying results with topical lasers, Retin-A, and other anti-oxidants. Unfortunately, while these may improve the appearance of these deep skin tears, they cannot erase them.

Depends- early or old stretch marks- read more.

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I agree with Dr Buford's answer- essentially I divide stretch marks into two sections. 

1. Early stretch marks- Red, pink, purple
2. Old stretch marks- white, papery

Here is the absolute truth- old stretch marks are MUCH harder to treat compared to new ones. The earlier the treatment for stretch marks, the better- hence the use of V beam lasers and vitamin A creams can do wonders for early stretch marks, whilst fractional lasers can slightly improve old ones. 

Dr Davin Lim
Laser and Cosmetic Dermatologist

Reduce stretch mark appearance

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Unfortunately stretch marks cannot be removed by any non-surgical method. Fresh (red) stretch marks have a better chance of being treated and lightened, but not removed. 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.

Stretch marks and laser treatment

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There is no absolute cure for stretch marks. However, the majority of stretch marks can be improved. There are different kinds of stretch marks and are treated a bit differently. Red or newer stretch marks can be treated with combination pulse dye laser and fractional laser. The white or silvery stretch marks are usually best treated with fractional laser. They will likely need multiple treatments for best clinical outcome. Treatments are usually done once every 4-6 weeks.

Lori A. Brightman, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon

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.