How Can I Get Rid of Stretch Marks?

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Ruth boraggina

One of the things I hate the most about my body are my stretch marks. I have a lot around the sides of my bum from when I had my growth spurt in puberty. Every summer I’m paranoid about going to the beach in a bikini (yay swimming skirts!). So what can you do?

Causes

Although it’s not clear how exactly skin gets stretch marks, they generally appear during periods of growth, such as during puberty, pregnancy, sudden weight gain or steroid therapy. About 90% of pregnant women get stretch marks! They can shrink and fade after the weight is lost, but don’t go away completely. Several conditions can also lead to stretch marks, incuding anorexia, tuberculosis and Cushing’s disease.

Whether or not you’re prone to stretch marks is often determined by genetics. The most common places for them to appear are on the thighs, upper arms, butt and boobs.

Developing stretch marks

A new stretch mark usually looks pink, and sometimes can be itchy and slightly raised (“striae rubra”). They then usually turn darker and grow longer. After some time, they turn white, flat and look sunken into the skin, and appear a bit like a scar (“striae alba”). Stretch marked areas tend to have less collagen, fibronectin, fibrillin and elastin, all of which are important skin components.

Treatment options

Successfully treating stretch marks is challenging, and there’s no cure discovered yet that works for everyone, so whoever invents one is going to get very rich!

Generally, stretch marks are easiest to get rid of when they’re fresh and still pink – they’re hard to treat when they’re white. Bad news for me!

Tretinoin (vitamin A) cream rubbed into fresh stretch marks is one of the most reliable treatments. It seems to work by stimulating skin growth. However, it does next to nothing on old stretch marks.

Trofolastin cream (active ingredient: centella asiatica) also seems to stimulate skin growth.

There is some evidence that glycolic acid, an AHA, may stimulate collagen production and improve the appearance of old stretch marks.

Monthly dilute (15-20%) trichloroacetic acid peels has been found to improve the texture and colour of stretch marks in one study.

More research is needed, but some initial studies have shown that cosmetic treatments such as microdermabrasion, RF, IPL and laser treatments (especially fractional photothermolysis using Fraxel lasers) could be effective in treating striae.

Prevention

Since stretch marks are so hard to get rid of, prevention is definitely better than cure! Stretch marks result from trauma deep down in the skin, so topical treatments aren’t likely to penetrate deep enough to quell them completely.

Although common sense would tell us that keeping skin well-moisturised will prevent tearing, not enough studies have been done to convincingly confirm or deny this. Oil and cream massages are often recommended for preventing stretch marks, but it’s not clear whether it’s the physical massage that helps, or the moisturising action of the oils, or both, or neither. Camellia oil in particular can help boost collagen in the skin.

Hyaluronic acid creams (e.g. Verum, Alphastria) can help prevent stretch marks by increasing skin strength.

Camouflage

The easiest way to deal with stretch marks seems to be to hide them!

Fake tan is a double-edged sword – the right one can do wonders, but the wrong one can show them up more since stretch marks are different in texture to undamaged skin! Sun tanning makes them more obvious, since the scar tissue doesn’t brown. Concealer is also useful for temporary cover.

Keeping your skin moisturised and toned (with dreaded exercise!) can smooth out the skin and make the affected areas less lumpy and obvious.

Most.importantly, we need to learn to embrace them! Most women (and many men) have stretch marks, including famous beauties such as Scarlett Johanssen, Kate Beckinsale and Angelina Jolie.

Are you self-conscious about your stretch marks? Or are you genetically blessed and have none? What stretch mark disguises work for you?

References

S Kang, K J Kim, C E M Griffiths, T-Y Wong, H S Talwar, G J Fisher, D Gordon, T A Hamilton, C N Ellis and J J Voorhees. Topical tretinoin (retinoic acid) improves early stretch marks. Arch Dermatol 1996, 132, 519.

M L Elsaie, L S Baumann and L T Elsaaiee. Striae distensae (stretch marks) and different modalities of therapy: An update. Dermatol Surg 2009, 35, 563.

G Young and D Jewell. Creams for preventing stretch marks in pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1996, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000066. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000066.

E Junga, J Leea, J Baekb, K Junga, J Leea, S Huha, S Kima, J Kohb and D Park. Effect of Camellia japonica oil on human type I procollagen production and skin barrier function. J Ethnopharmacol 2007, 112, 127.

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29 thoughts on “How Can I Get Rid of Stretch Marks?”

  1. This is really informative! I have struggled with stretch marks for years. Personally I use tanning as my cover up. I find they stand out more at first, but as I get darker they fade away.. I also find that tanning lotion firms my skin better than any moisturizer, so that may have something to do with it too.

    Reply
    • I’m a bit scared of tanning because of the sun damage 🙁 I’ve never managed to tan past the “glowing stretch marks” stage, but I might look into tanning lotion!

      Reply
  2. oooh amazing post! i never had a stretch mark in my life until i was 18 and went away to college, i gained a lot of weight and got them on my thighs. i lost all the weight (and more!) but i still have those dumb lines. i will be looking into these ways to him get rid of them!

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  3. ok you will laugh but I do have stretch marks just on one cheek of my butt!! how do you explain that?? LOL doesn’t really bother me but I do think it’s funny!! like half of my ass was bigger than the other =)))

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  4. I have stretch marks and I have quite naturally tanned skin so they show up! I also have more noticeable ones on one side than the other, just on my outer bum area and it SUCKS! I’ve tried heaps of stuff like Bio oil and specifically targeted stretch mark creams but nothing really works. . .I do the “dry brushing” on that area before a shower as it apparently helps circulation and promotes healing or growth (maybe!?) But i’ve also heard the brand De La Mer is really good but for $300 for a small pot. I can’t find the justice in spending that much withouth guaranteed success! Good post michelle 🙂

    Reply
    • Yeah, unfortunately most stretch mark creams just moisturise to make the area less obviously bumpy 🙁 I honestly think that whoever can invent a stretch mark cream that actually works on old stretch marks will make a bloody FORTUNE – I mean, it’s a problem that at least a quarter of the population has!

      Reply
    • Glad to hear that they fade, stretch marks and wrinkly tummies and all that are some of my biggest concerns about pregnancy! On the bright side, your boobs are one of the easiest areas to hide, or at least only show in dim, flattering light 🙂

      Reply
  5. Great post! I hate my stretch marks… I have them on my chest when I suddenly became a D cup. I hate how they resist tanning in the summer and it looks like I’ve got white stripes…

    I also love the fact that you cited your references properly! You’re such a proper PhD student 🙂

    Reply
  6. yea im pretty thin but i feel uncomfortable wearing bikini bottoms…my poor little bum is just not right…i have thin pink stripes and i got these when i literally grew 3 1/2 inches in a year!!!thanks for the info,lovely ladies.

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  7. Im 27 weeks pregnant & in one week i literally got loaded with stretch marks on my butt!! I have a couple of them on my waist line but not in the middle of my stomach. I used coco butter & im guessing that wasn’t much help i actually broke out. My body has been reacting different to lotions ever since ive because pregnant. I wish there was a cure to get rid of stretch marks lol looks like i wont be wearing bikini’s anymore!

    Reply
  8. It’s mentioned that stretch marks begin as pink-colored. I assume this means if you have pale skin. I, however, have dark skin. What do impending stretch marks look like on a dark-skinned person?

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  9. I hate my stretch marks its all over my bum.I have tried all these expenceive tissue oils and creams and nothing works:( going to try the tanning thing if that dosn’t work I guess its off to get lazered

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  10. Tretinoin, is good for lighten the stretch marks but I want to tell you that it would not work for everyone. Like me, from last 3 months I am using it continuously but not a single small change is happening to my skin. Now I had found an article where some home remedies are shared. Here in this link http://www.findhomeremedy.com/home-remedies-for-stretch-marks/
    So I want your review, that these shared remedies work for me. Last time when I had acne scars then I had treated them with natural remedies. So I hope this problem will also be solved using natural cures. Is it possible to treat stretch marks using natural cures, I want your valuable comments. Thanks

    Reply
  11. extremely useful guide 🙂 But i am worried about tanning of my skin around the area of stretchmarks. Is it usual that tans happens with the marks?

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  12. Hi Michelle, Great read! Have you tried using a natural remedy for reducing the appearance of your stretch marks? I use Aloe Vera mixed in with a little organic coconut oil and lemon juice. I make it from my Aloe Vera plant at home and it is a great inexpensive way to treat stretch marks. Results can depend from person to person, but for the most part it’s a good cheap natural way to reduce the discoloration of the affected area.

    Reply
  13. I have been using dermelastic for about two weeks now I love it and will continue to buy! I have suffered from acne scars since i was a teen im now 31 I have tried everything pills percription creams & nothing compares to this# I absolutely love it!!! scars are fading as well as stretch marks! Love love love!!

    Reply
  14. Hi Michelle, I am with you Stretch Marks can never be released. If they are pink there is come treatments and creams that can remove them but they are white they can not remove. So good article to aware many ladies before facing stretch marks problems. They can easily search or take treatment to defect their body with stretch marks.

    Reply
  15. Very useful guideline:) I am very glad to know that there is some solutions of stretch marks but I know if stretch marks get white then there is no solution for them to dull. If any one have stretch marks then he/she should use home remedies or other creams to get them dull or fade.

    Reply
  16. My son is always self-conscious about a scar on his chest from having chest surgery 9 years ago. It is a pretty big scar about 9 inches long. He was using scar cream right after he had the surgery but it never helped and anything he has tried since has not had any effect on it. Dermalmd scar serum has been awesome. He has used it for a little over a week and I already notice a definite improvement of the scar. It is definitely lighter. I am going to try dermalmd scar serum on my stretch marks now that I see for myself how well it works.

    Reply
  17. Great article, eliminating stretch marks has become a very common pursuit, we have always opted for natural means because the treatments here in Brazil have absurd values. As difficult as it is to eliminate these marks we can do some things to treat stretch marks, moisturize the body is something very easy to do and many people do not do not know. here in Brazil I have a website that I also board this side. It’s a rich content on your site. Really enjoyed. here in Brazil I speak a lot of retinoic acid which is essential for anyone who wants to eliminate stretch marks, take a look at my article. appreciate.

    Reply

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