Stretch marks are a form of scarring that result from damage sustained by the dermis layer of the skin. The dermis layer is the middle layer of your skin in charge of elasticity. When this layer of skin is stretched too taut, it breaks and results in marks that are initially red or purple in color. While the stretch marks eventually fade, they will never go away on their own. As with all scars, topical treatments are available to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, but only surgical procedures can eliminate the scarring completely.

Puberty and pregnancy are 2 of the most typical phases in life when stretch marks can occur. There are hormones that are responsible for keeping skin taut, but when adolescents are experiencing rapid growth and hormone imbalance, stretch marks can result. Stretch marks can also affect hormonally imbalanced women during pregnancy. Hormones may be a key component to stretch marks because not every teenager or pregnant woman develops stretch marks regardless of how stretched their skin gets. Weight loss is another instance where scarring of stretch marks can occur.

Eating well and keeping your skin hydrated can help reduce the risk of stretch marks, as can some topical creams. There are a variety of creams that can be used during pregnancy to reduce the risk of stretch marks and there are also a host of creams and lotions that can be applied to stretch marks after the scarring has occurred. Everyone responds differently to the topical treatments, so if one doesn’t work for you then you may need to try a different one.

While topical treatments can help reduce or fade stretch marks, they cannot get rid of them completely. Surgical procedures may be an effective method to treat stretch marks; they include dermabrasion, laser treatments, and fractional laser resurfacing. Surgical treatments such as these rely on the body’s natural healing process of generating new skin to heal over the removed scar tissue. Other surgical procedures, such as tummy tucks, can be performed to remove the damaged skin as well.

Since stretch marks are commonly seen on the abdomen, arms, back, breasts, buttocks, hips, and thighs, some people feel self-conscious about their visibility. Even though they pose no health risk, most people with stretch marks will invest in topical creams or surgical procedures to reduce or remove the scarred skin. If you have concerns about stretch marks it is best to consult with your dermatologist to decide on the right treatment for you.

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