Stretch marks are a common complaint among our patients, and we get a lot of questions about how to treat them. They can be a source of self-consciousness for many, and since they’re often difficult to get rid of and at-home remedies are only mildly helpful at best, what can you do about them?
What are stretch marks?
The raised marks can occur any time you experience a lot of growth in a short time. While often associated with weight gain or pregnancy, they can also be found in adolescents going through regular growth spurts, as a symptom of certain genetic disorders, and as a result of steroid use. Any time your body grows faster than your skin can keep up with, it’s possible for stretch marks to follow.
They begin raised and red, and as inflammation reduces, they shrink and fade into light-colored marks a little lighter than the color of your skin.
How can I prevent stretch marks?
During pregnancy, hydrating the skin on common areas like the abdomen, hips, buttocks, and back is essential. Common effective products include Bio-Oil and Cocoa Butter. Avoidance of steroid medications for long periods of time is important as this overuse can contribute to thinner skin and stretch marks. A healthy diet and exercise can also prevent stretch marks help by maintaining a healthy weight.
How soon after the appearance of my stretch marks should I begin treatment?
The simple answer is, if stretch marks bother you, get them taken care of as soon as possible. Anything that affects your confidence can be a significant stumbling block in your everyday life, so don’t delay treatment. The sooner you’re in a body you’re comfortable in, the better.
Can I improve stretch marks at home?
If you search “stretch mark home remedy,” you’ll find dozens of suggestions from well-meaning article writers that tell you that you can treat stretch marks with things like aloe vera, sugar, and coconut oil. These treatments are ineffective and may irritate your skin if you use them too vigorously.
A few over-the-counter treatments are marketed to treat stretch marks containing ingredients like retinoic acid and alpha hydroxy acid. A skin care plan should be discussed with your dermatologist prior to trying these products.
What stretch marks treatments work?
Although there is no cure, the best treatments for stretch marks are the ones that stimulate your natural collagen. Stretch marks ultimately leave shallow channels in your skin, and stimulating collagen helps to fill in those channels. Laser treatments are fantastic at inducing this effect, especially when they are fresh and red. This includes pulsed dye lasers. In addition, some treatments can help remodel scars and create smoother skin, including micro-needling and fractionated lasers.
If you are struggling with self-consciousness due to stretch marks, it’s time to contact your dermatologist. At Advanced Dermatology, we can connect you with a skilled physician who will get you started on a treatment plan based on your specific needs. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation — we can’t wait to get you on your way back to self-confidence!