All about stretch marks – removal and treatment
Stretch marks or striae as they are called in medical terms are all different names for the same symptoms, reddish and white stretch marks on the skin.
Stretch mark occurs when the skin is stretched from below and simultaneously, because of internal hormonal changes or medication use, exposure to increased amounts of corticosteroids. That’s when reddish blue or violet stretch marks appear on the skin surface which will later whiten.
New upcoming reddish stretch marks are called striae rubra (red striae). After a time, forming scar tissue and stretch marks whiten. That’s when it’s called striaei alba (white straei).
Stretch marks are caused primarily by hormones and weight gain
What stretch marks are caused by is not scientifically established. But it is known by two factors; growth and hormones. Striae is commonly associated with pregnancy, overweight and puberty.
Striae may also occur in certain diseases or as a side effect of medicine use. When it comes to medicine use, stretch marks can occur both after local use of strong cortisone on the skin, for example treating eczema and after use of steroid tablets.
Stretch marks can also appear while bodybuilding and with the use of anabolic steroids.
Women are one of the groups that express embarrassment of stretch marks, after their pregnancy a lot of stretch marks can appear on body areas such as breast, stomach, hips, back, buttocks and thighs.
It is difficult to prevent stretch marks but worth trying
There are many theories on how to prevent stretch marks. Unfortunately, there are no methods with 100% scientifically proven evidence.
Since there is a clear link between volume growth and stretch marks, it should be considered to avoid rapid weight gain. This includes a healthy lifestyle in terms of diet, fluid and exercise.
To maintain a good moisture balance in the skin can also be a good idea to prevent stretch marks. For pregnant women it is recommended to lubricate breasts, abdomen, hips and thighs with creams containing cocoa or shea butter 3-4 times daily.
The method has the best documented efficacy in prevent of stretch marks is the use of vitamin A cream. Unfortunately, improvements after this treatment are very limited.
You can improve but not remove stretch marks
Unfortunately, there is no treatment that can completely remove stretch marks. However, there are a number of treatments that can reduce them in size and visibility. The results can show significant improvements of disturbing stretch marks.
The sooner treatment begins, you can expect better results
Stretch marks begin as reddish marks with a smooth surface (red striae) but will later on whiten and get deeper into the skin where the marks are stretched (white striae). The early and upcoming red striaen responds best to treatment, which should be initiated as soon as possible.
Treatments that can improve stretch marks
How much one single stretch mark is noticeable depends on its colour, width, depth and texture. However, by reducing one or more of these factors, you can achieve improvements. This is what the different treatment options are aimed at. Among the best known are:
- Vascular laser – 3-6 treatments can provide significant improvements in red straei but has bad effect on white straei.
- Fractional laser – improves white straei by stimulating the collagen production in the skin and the formation of the outer skin.
- Carboxy therapy – carbon dioxide injections starts collagen repair and can improve both red and white striae. The treatment is promising but relatively new and untested.
- Microneedling – thousands of needle sticks stimulates the repair process in both red and white striae.
- Abdominoplasty – removes the over stretched skin on the abdomen but gives scarring
The treatments above can all have a positive effect on stretch marks. As a patient, it is important to have realistic expectations. No treatment other than tummy tuck can completely remove stretch marks. Many times it is a combination of different treatments that work best.
No treatment can completely remove stretch marks
What treatment is the best and most effect is difficult to answer. It all depends on how much stretch marks you have, what they look like and what your circumstances and goals are. The first step to a successful treatment is to inform yourself well. You can do so by the links on this page.
The information you find here is examined by dermatologist Tore Nilsen from Vaxsjo Medical Centre. It describes various treatment options to get rid of stretch marks but should only been seen as general guidance and cannot replace a consultation with a specialist.
Additional options for removal of stretch marks
- Find clinics offering treatments for removing stretch marks
- Ask a question about stretch marks or read answers from our Expert
- Discuss stretch marks and different treatment options in our forum