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How-To 2 min

Last Updated Jan 29, 2024

How to Treat Stretch Marks

Author
|
Board-Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Muneeb Shah

Stretch marks, also known as striae distensae, are a common skin concern that affects many people. There are two main type of stretch marks, striae rubra (red) and striae alba (white). They can appear on various parts of the body such as the abdomen, breasts, thighs, hips, and even arms. It's important to note that 90% of people have stretch marks, meaning that they're normal for most people!

 

What causes stretch marks? 

They are caused by rapid stretching of the skin, which can occur during pregnancy, growth spurts, or weight changes. Excessive use of topical and oral corticosteroids can also weaken the skin, making it more prone to stretch marks. 

Can you prevent them?

There is no guaranteed way to prevent stretch marks, but there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of getting them. For example, keeping your skin hydrated during pregnancy with a hyaluronic acid-based moisturizer and massaging the abdomen can help prevent them. 

How do you treat stretch marks?

There are various topical treatments available, such as creams and oils, that claim to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. However, there is limited evidence to support their effectiveness, and ingredients like vitamin E may even cause more harm than good. Effective treatments for stretch marks work by three main mechanisms: improving hydration, stimulating epidermal thickening, and stimulating collagen production. For striae rubra, lasers that target redness also help (e.g., IPL and PDL). 

Improving hydration  Silicone scar gels, hyaluronic acid, centella asiatica, and massage with almond oil
Stimulate epidermal thickening Retinoids (e.g., tretinoin), Peptides (e.g., Matrixyl)
Stimulate collagen production Retinoids (e.g., tretinoin), high-strength glycolic acid (20% peels), microneedling, and fractionated lasers

Doctor's Note

There are two main type of stretch marks, striae rubra (red) and striae alba (white).

Effective treatments focus on hydration, epidermal thickening, and collagen induction

Topical retinoids and high-strength glycolic acid are the most effective topical options

Microneedling, RF microneedling, and fractionated lasers are effective in-office treatments

The Research

  • Lokhande AJ, Mysore V. Striae Distensae Treatment Review and Update. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2019
  • Timur Taşhan S, Kafkasli A. The effect of bitter almond oil and massaging on striae gravidarum in primiparaous women. J Clin Nurs. 2012 Jun;21(11-12):1570-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04087.x. PMID: 22594386.

Dr. Muneeb Shah

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Muneeb Shah headshot

Dr. Muneeb Shah

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Muneeb Shah is a double Board-Certified Dermatologist and Micrographic Dermatologic Surgeon in Hudson Yards, New York. He is passionate about educating the public on common skin issues and has accrued a following of 21+ million across his social media platforms on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

Location: New York City, NY

Doctor's Note

There are two main type of stretch marks, striae rubra (red) and striae alba (white).

Effective treatments focus on hydration, epidermal thickening, and collagen induction

Topical retinoids and high-strength glycolic acid are the most effective topical options

Microneedling, RF microneedling, and fractionated lasers are effective in-office treatments

The Research

  • Lokhande AJ, Mysore V. Striae Distensae Treatment Review and Update. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2019
  • Timur Taşhan S, Kafkasli A. The effect of bitter almond oil and massaging on striae gravidarum in primiparaous women. J Clin Nurs. 2012 Jun;21(11-12):1570-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04087.x. PMID: 22594386.

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