Stretch marks, or striae, are an unsightly skin condition that affects men and women who have undergone rapid growth, weight gain, or weight loss. They often appear in areas that are exposed, such as the stomach or arms, leaving many looking for ways to get rid of stretch marks.
In order to get rid of stretch marks, it helps to first understand what they are exactly. Stretch marks are a form of scarring that happen underneath the skin’s surface and may fade over time, but usually won’t disappear completely. They typically appear in the later stages of pregnancy or during puberty, and can often become more pronounced with age. Stretch marks also affect people who rapidly build muscle or lose fat.
The harmless marks are most commonly seen on the stomach, breasts, thighs, hips, lower back, and buttocks. Something that everyone, regardless of what’s causing them or where they show up, has in common is finding an easy, cost-effective way to get rid of stretch marks.
How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks
There are various skin treatment options available to help get rid of stretch marks. You may see topical skin treatments that say they can get rid of stretch marks, but while some of them may fade the scars, they won’t erase them completely.
Cosmetic laser treatment is gaining in popularity because it’s a non-invasive procedure that allows patients to resume their everyday lives. Laser treatments to get rid of stretch marks usually take about 30 minutes. The downside is that it often takes several treatments and really only works on new marks. It’s also a costly skin treatment to get rid of stretch marks, running anywhere from $300.00 to $1,000.00 per session.
A specific laser skin treatment used to get rid of stretch marks is the fractional laser. It involves targeting a small portion of the scar, causing a microscopic wound that the body responds to by producing new collagen and epithelium. Like cosmetic laser skin treatments, this requires several appointments, but can reduce the appearance of stretch marks by up to 75%.
A third skin treatment option to get rid of stretch marks is microdermabrasion. It involves blasting fine crystals at the affected area to remove a layer of skin and slightly reduce the visibility of lighter stretch marks. However, this treatment option is time-consuming, often taking 10 to 12 sessions, and doesn’t really get rid of stretch marks, since the tears are in the middle layer of skin. But microdermabrasion refreshes your skin, making it look healthier, which can make stretch marks less noticeable.
One of the more radical treatments to get rid of stretch marks is an abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck,” although this invasive procedure really only works on the marks below your belly button. An abdominoplasty involves making one horizontal incision just above the pubic area, starting and ending near either pelvic bone. The surgeon will then pull the abdominal skin down, tightening your abdominal wall by bringing the underlying muscle and loose tissue together with the sutures. The excess abdominal skin is removed; this is the part that will get rid of stretch marks under your navel. An abdominoplasty won’t do much to get rid of stretch marks in surrounding areas, although it might help to make them a little less visible.
If you do decide to get an abdominoplasty to get rid of stretch marks, you can expect to be on the table for up to five hours, maybe more, and recovering for anywhere from three to six months. Also, because this is a major surgery, it comes with more risks than the other methods to get rid of stretch marks, not to mention a bigger price tag.
Preventing Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
You won’t have to worry about trying to get rid of stretch marks if you don’t have them in the first place. To prevent new stretch marks from surfacing, the obvious answer is to try to avoid any sudden weight gain, and if you’re trying to lose weight, do so gradually. Consult with a nutritionist or work with a personal trainer at a gym so that you don’t have to deal with trying to get rid of stretch marks later on.
It also helps to keep skin moisturized, especially for pregnant women, as hydrated skin is less likely to develop stretch marks. Keeping the body hydrated internally by drinking water is useful to prevent and help get rid of stretch marks as well, because it makes your skin suppler and less susceptible to the tears that leave behind scarring.