How To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks In 2023 – 9 Treatment Options
Stretch marks are often a product of rapid weight gain, especially during pregnancy. Photo: Ira Shpiller/Shutterstock
Stretch marks are a common skin complaint and can make people feel self-conscious about their appearance. Stretch marks are often a product of rapid weight gain, especially during pregnancy, when the skin stretches to meet the growing body. Though they are not harmful and pose no health concerns, a person may wish to prevent or remove stretch marks. Today, a mixture of new dermatological technologies and ancient natural remedies are available to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
9 Ways To Lose Stretch Marks
- Apply retinol cream
- Avail of light & laser therapies
- Get a microneedling treatment
- Get a dermabrasion treatment
- Try healing growth factors with PRP
- Resurface skin with radiofrequency
- Apply hyaluronic acid
- Apply aloe vera gel
- Get a tretinoin prescription
How To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks?
1. Apply Retinol Cream
Retinol is a form of vitamin A, often used to treat various skin issues. Retinol is available in serums, creams, and lotions. It’s commonly used to help improve acne, fine lines and wrinkles, and the appearance of stretch marks. Retinol works by increasing the production of new skin cells, exfoliating, and increasing the amount of collagen in the skin (which makes skin look younger). Though retinol starts to work immediately, it may take a few weeks to see results.
2. Avail Of Light & Laser Therapies
Light and laser treatments can be performed by a qualified doctor (specifically a dermatologist) to reduce stretch marks. During these treatments, infrared and visible red light are aimed at the stretch marks, which softens how they appear on the skin. It may take several applications or treatments to complete the process, and similarly to applying retinol cream, it may take several weeks to see results.
3. Get A Microneedling Treatment
Despite the sound, microneedling is a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment that can improve the look of stretch marks. The treatment uses small needles on the skin (similar to acupuncture). The needling encourages the skin to produce new elastin and collagen, which has a repairing effect. People may experience some redness or irritation on the skin after treatments, but these are temporary, and ultimately, yield less stress marks. Microneedling tends to work better on “shallow, light stretch marks, rather than deep, darker ones.
4. Get A Dermabrasion Treatment
Dermabrasion treatments use an exfoliating device to remove the top layer of skin. Once this layer grows back, the skin appears smoother and more even. This treatment can be used for many undesirable skin appearances, such as acne, scars, wrinkles, and stretch marks. The treatment can induce some pain, so the doctor who performs the procedure may numb the skin during the process. This technique may cause unwanted redness on the skin for several months.
5. Try Healing Growth Factors With PRP
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a form of reparative medicine which is still relatively new to many consumers. It works by taking a person’s blood, removing the red blood cells, and concentrating it into a platelet-rich plasma protein. This new version, which contains specific growth factors and other biomolecules, is reinjected into the patient. This promotes wound healing, therefore, PRP can be beneficial for reducing stretch marks. Recent research suggests that PRP significantly improves the look of stretch marks by itself, as well as combined with microdermabrasion.
6. Resurface Skin With Radiofrequency
Radiofrequency operates similarly to an ultrasound. A small tool is placed on the skin and emits radio frequencies on the skin, but it does not penetrate deep into the skin the way an ultrasound does. It often requires multiple treatments to see results. For this reason, radiofrequency may be better suited for early intervention when stretch marks are not very dark or deep. Radiofrequency may also be used with microneedling which can yield more noticeable results.
7. Apply Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid naturally exists in our eyes and joints, keeping them lubricated with fluid. It’s been suggested that hyaluronic acid plays a role in the body’s response to injury, wound healing, and can reduce swelling. Hyaluronic acid can be found in supplement form, of which usage and dosage should be prescribed by a medical provider. However, for treating stretch marks, hyaluronic acid can also be found in serums which can be applied to the skin.
8. Apply Aloe Vera Gel
The gel inside of an aloe vera plant contains many skin-healing properties. It soothes burns, moisturizes, and can help heal wounds. Aloe vera can both prevent skin damage and help minimize it. For this reason, aloe vera gel applied to the skin may be beneficial in reducing stretch marks. Aloe vera is relatively safe when applied topically and can be used several times per day until desired results are achieved.
9. Get A Tretinoin Prescription
Tretinoin is derived from vitamin A, similar to retinol. If other treatments don’t work, you may consider getting a prescription for Tretinoin from your doctor. Tretinoin works by keeping pores clean, as well as lightening the skin in areas that have been damaged from the sun, stretch marks, or acne. The medication can also help replace old skin with newer skin cells.
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are lines or streaks that can appear in various places on the body in response to skin stretching. This is common in women during pregnancy but can happen in any instance of weight gain. Stretch marks are not concerning, health-wise, nor do they cause pain, however, many people aim to reduce them for cosmetic purposes. Stretch marks can vary in size and color, depending on how long the person has had them, what caused them, and the individual’s skin tone and composition. Stretch marks may appear lighter than your skin tone, or darker than it. It depends on the person. While many treatments to reduce the appearance of stretch marks can be obtained over the counter, some may require medical treatment that would be performed by a doctor.
Anyone can get stretch marks on almost any area of the body, although women tend to get them more than men. It’s estimated that more than half of pregnant women get stretch marks. The most common places stretch marks appear are the thighs, belly, breasts, butt, and hips. In some cases, stretch marks may reduce on their own, though skin-supporting treatments can help them go away faster.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
Any stretching of the skin can cause stretch marks. This includes pregnancy and other forms of weight gain. With sudden or quick growth, the collagen and elastin in our skin breaks, which leaves us prone to markings.
Having high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, may also contribute to stress marks, as cortisol makes skin more susceptible to markings by weakening the skin. Other hormone fluctuations may also cause changes in the skin, which can lead to stretch marks. Some people are more prone to getting stretch marks, including those who have gained weight rapidly while they were young and those who use corticosteroids, a type of steroid hormone.
Stretch marks may also carry a genetic component, in which certain genetic disorders (such as Cushing or Marfan syndrome) may cause them. Finally, if you have family members with stretch marks, you may be more likely to get them also.
How To Prevent Stretch Marks?
Since stretch marks are often caused by rapid skin stretching, managing your weight gain can be one way to avoid them (although this is not always possible, especially in the case of pregnancy). Other natural ways include staying hydrated (the skin needs adequate hydration to stay supple and healthy), and ensuring you’re getting enough nutrients in your diet, such as vitamins C, A, D, and E. Protein is also essential, as it is needed in any tissue repair process. Exercise helps to keep skin more elastic while also increasing circulation, which can help make the skin more adaptable as it stretches.
Being proactive is another important factor, since stretch marks are harder to treat the longer they’ve existed. This may mean using retinol or aloe on the skin preventatively and as soon as you notice them. Since stretch marks can be caused by rapid weight gain and/or weight loss, it’s advised to avoid yo-yo dieting, as this behavior can encourage stretch marks to form.
Though stretch marks are harmless, they can be unsightly and make a person feel insecure about their appearance. Whether you want to try a procedure such as laser or dermabrasion treatment, or a serum of aloe vera or retinol, there are many options that can help fade the appearance of stretch marks.
Frequently Asked Questions
In rare cases, stretch marks can be a symptom of certain genetic disorders. Please get a thorough medical examination and testing if you have stretch marks that are not related to weight gain.
Almost all treatments for stretch marks will take ongoing, consistent application and/or multiple treatments, and though skin cells may begin to regenerate immediately from treatment, you may not see results for several weeks. It’s important to be patient during this process.
Yes. Exercise is great for circulation, which improves skin elastin. This allows the skin to stretch more easily as it grows, which can help reduce the risk of developing stretch marks.