How Do I Get Rid of Stretch Marks?

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

Doctor Answers 16

Palomar Lux 1540 Laser works best!

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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. 

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

The goal is improvement of stretch marks

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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
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

How Do I Get Rid of Stretch Marks?

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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.

Lasers can help lessen stretch marks

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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.

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

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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.

Beware of the Snake Oil salesman

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Stretch marks are one of unfortunate cosmetic difficulties where marketing has been unleashed on uninformed consumers. Because these marks represent areas with the deeper connective portions of the skin have been permanently damaged, there are no creams or ointments, or other treatments for that matter that can make them go away.

Lots of claims are made with varying concoctions of collagen, Vitamin C, etc., but nothing has been substantiated. If the stretch marks are in an area of skin that can be excised, such as the lower abdomen after pregnancy, surgery may be an option. But here again you will be trading the stretch marks for a scar, though you may also gain a flatter tummy.

No quick fix but here are some tips

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Stretch marks are a sign of ripping of the deep dermal tissues, often seen after childbirth, after weight gains or losses, or after certain therapies, such as steroids. Once you understand how the ripped dermal tissue resembles a burlap sack that has been pulled apart, it is then clear why no treatment will put those fibers back together. So aside from maybe making a bit more collagen in the area or causing temporary swelling, reducing the appearance of stretch marks, patients should not hope for too much with laser or radiofrequency treatments, or they will be disappointed.

There is no quick fix or cream that takes stretch marks away. Lasers designed for treating redness however can help greatly with stretch marks that are very red. No laser, in my opinion, takes established stretch marks away.

If the stretch marks are located on the lower abdomen and there is a lot of loose skin, these stretch marks can often be removed when a tummy tuck is performed.

There are several ways to prevent stretch marks from occurring in the first place:

1. Avoid large weight gains during pregnancy. Not only do large weight gains cause stretch marks, but they are unhealthy for the baby and the mother.

2. Avoid excessively large breast implants. They can stretch the skin, occasionally causing it to give way and form stretch marks along the top and sides of the breast.

3. Avoid repeated weight gain and loss. In stretching to accommodate increased body weight, the dermal fibers can rip, causing stretch marks.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 188 reviews

Stretch marks are permanent

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Unless you can surgically remove them like in a tummy tuck, stretch marks are a permanent result of skin stretching more rapidly than its elastic fibers can tolerate.

The anatomy of a stretch mark explains why no treatments can cure them. They are a splitting of the deeper dermis layer of the skin while the outside epidermal layer remains intact. It is like splitting a tomato over a flame only in a stretch mark, it is the deeper layer that splits, not the outermost layer.

Lasers can help with the darker color when they are new but they don't eliminate the damaged skin, they just make it less conspicuous.

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

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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.

Laser Fractional for Stretch Marks

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Hi There and thank you for your question.

Unfortunately stretch marks cannot be removed but can be improved! 

When the dermal layer tears or is stretched with the outer epidermal layer intact, it creates stretch marks which indicates a loss of elastin tissue in the area. 
There are no creams which can help to get rid of stretch marks but the Palomar Lux 1540 fractional laser has been very effective in minimizing the appearance of stretch marks as it creates more healthy skin structure by remodeling the stretch marks with collagen and elastin fibers. This in turn makes the stretch marks look narrow and less shiny.  4-6 treatments every 4 weeks to notice improvement

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.