The Definitive Guide to Treating Stretch Marks
Stretch Marks Treatment Options
(Last Updated: July 2016)
The following is our guide to the treatment and eventual removal of stretch marks. This guide explains what can be done to reduce the appearance of existing stretch marks and to prevent future stretch marks from forming. This treatment approach is effective, safe, and permanent. However it is worth noting upfront that no treatment is immediate. Stretch marks will take a minimum of 2-4 weeks to begin fading and patience is required.
What will this guide cover? This first page covers the treatment options available on the market today. These include surgical and topical approaches to removing stretch marks. Our organization believes strongly in the use of topical creams to address stretch marks, as surgical and other invasive procedures pose risks that often outweigh their benefits. That being said, we do our best to present all the possible options. The second page of this guide provides details on how to select a topical treatment, including what specific ingredients and qualities to look for. For more on product information, please visit our Medication Comparison Page.The third and final page of this guide provides our detailed approach to using a topical treatment to eliminate stretch marks.
Topical Stretch Mark Removal
Topical treatment of stretch marks involves the use of one or more creams/lotions applied directly to affected areas. These topical formulations are aimed at reducing the appearance of stretch marks over time. Topical stretch mark “removal” is not an immediate process. If fact, of the methods presented on this site, topical stretch mark treatment is the slowest. However we recommend this approach because it is the least invasive of all options and can be incredibly effective at reducing and eliminating the appearance of stretch marks.
- Painless – Topical treatment of stretch marks is completely painless.
- Safe – The risks posed by topical treatment of stretch marks are very low. Skin irritation due to allergy or extreme sensitivity are rare but possible.
- Common – This treatment approach is the most common way people deal with stretch marks. This allows for a great range of options when finding and selecting a topical product to use, as well as a wide range of opinions and feedback from people who have used topical stretch mark products.
- Slow – As stated above, the topical treatment of stretch marks is a slow process. Patience is required. With every application of an effective topical product the appearance of stretch marks will be reduced slightly. It is not likely you will be capable of viewing this slow process on a day-to-day basis. Like at-home teeth-whitening, the results are best observed looking week-by-week and month-by-month.
Surgical Stretch Mark Removal
The surgical removal of stretch marks is one of the few ways to guarantee the near-immediate elimination of stretch marks. However this treatment type is only possible for stretch marks found on certain areas of the body – specifically stretch marks found on the mid to lower abdominal region. Surgical stretch mark removal is normally done as part of a “tummy tuck” known as a abdominoplasty.
- Complete removal of stretch marks – if the stretch marks meet certain criteria in terms of position on the body they can be completely removed through surgery. Unlike topical treatment and other options, this procedure does not simply fade stretch marks – it directly eliminates them.
- Invasive – any surgery comes with significant risks and issues. Surgical removal of stretch marks is no different.
- Recovery time – surgical removal involves incisions and stitching of the skin and outer tissue. Recovery from such a procedure requires mandated rest time and a recovery period.
- Cost – Costs associated with an elective surgical process can be very high and often are not covered by traditional health insurance.
We do not recommend or promote the use of surgery for the purpose of removing stretch marks. Stretch marks are an extremely common and unfortunate condition but they are a cosmetic condition which pose no direct health risk to those affected. For that reason undergoing an invasive medical procedure like an abdominoplasty (“tummy tuck”) to remove stretch marks is a dangerous and unnecessary risk.
Laser Stretch Mark Removal
There are a handful of different types of laser treatments designed to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Careful and thorough research is recommended when going this route as different facilities specialize in different types of laser treatment and will often push one form over another based on what they are equipped to provide rather than what is actually best for you and the type of stretch marks you may be looking to treat.
- Effectiveness – Laser treatment of stretch marks has a relatively high rate of patient satisfaction.
- Cost – laser treatments require multiple visits to a specialist and the costs of these treatments can be unpredictable and costly.
- Risks – mishandling of high-powered lasers can result in damage to the skin.
Chemical Peel of Stretch Marks
It is possible to treat stretch marks with chemical peels of the outer skin, however this procedure is usually reserved for those looking to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots. The process works by applying a thin layer of chemical solution which is designed to peel off and remove the top layer of skin, thus promoting the development of new, healthy skin cells. The relative concentration and strength of the chemicals used can vary by skin type and severity of stretch marks. Often this procedure causes patients pain and a burning sensation.
- Improved skin health – Chemical peels can improve the overall health and vitality of skin, resulting in skin which is smoother and younger looking.
- Effectiveness – Chemical peels are no longer a common way of addressing stretch marks because of their relative ineffectiveness vs other treatment types.
We do not recommend chemical peels for the purpose of treating stretch marks. While effective at revitalizing skin, chemical peels are not particularly effective in reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
Similar to chemical peels, microdermabrasion aims to rejuvenate skin by removing the top-most layer, allowing new skin cells to replace old tissue. This treatment type involves the use of an abrasive spray (normally containing crystal powder) which is blasted at the skin. We do not provide specific pros and cons for this treatment type as it is almost identical to the results of chemical peels.
We do not recommend microdermabrasion as a means of treating and removing stretch marks.
NEXT UP: Selecting a Topical Treatment…
Now that you understand the various treatment options you can see that topical treatment offers an effective and safe means of reducing the appearance of stretch marks. Our organization, Stretch Marks Authority, recommends the use of topical treatment as it presents the least invasive and most cost-effective process. The remainder of this guide is dedicated to providing readers with (1) how to select an effective topical treatment and (2) how to then use that treatment and maximize its results.