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Treating Stretchmarks

Our skin has three layers of skin: the epidermis, or outer layer; the dermis, or middle layer; and the subcutaneous stratum, or deepest layer. Stretch marks (also known as striae) occur in the dermis, the elastic and resilient middle layer that allows skin to retain its shape. When the dermis is constantly stretched over time, the skin becomes less elastic and the connective fibers (collagen and elastin) are damaged and stretch marks appear.

While heavily dependant on your natural skin color, stretch marks generally start out as raised pink, reddish brown or dark brown lines that then become a brighter violet or purple. Over time these more vivid marks flatten and fade to be a few shades lighter than your normal skin color, and after years, they eventually become less noticeable, though they rarely disappear.

Stretch marks pose no health risks and are purely a cosmetic issue. If you find them unacceptable and want to get rid of them, here are some options:

Reddish/brown stretch marks

The most common treatments are Vitamin-C cream, Retin-A (prescription cream that exfoliates skin and allows new, healthy cells to grow), Mederma (an all-natural onion based cream), and Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids (exfoliants that work on a similar principle to Retin-A). A little more expensive but also much more effective is laser treatment. Lasers can be used to reach all areas of the stretch mark, make them match the surrounding skin most effectively, and to regenerate skin cells in even the deepest part of the mark. Optimal results with lasers generally require 2-3 sessions.

White and faded stretch marks

Old stretch marks are much more difficult to treat; however, a new development called Coolbeam can help. Coolbeam works by causing the skin to regenerate elastin and collagen, and in a test of 95 subjects with mature stretch marks that had responded to nothing else, all had their marks reduced in visibility by 75-100 percent.

For either type

Microdermabrasions and acid peels can be effective in evening out the appearance of stretch marks. Various surgical options are also available to try and make a cleaner or less noticeable scar.

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