Stretch Mark Removal: What Really Works?

Written by Daniel Friedmann, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on July 18, 2014 22 Comments

stretch marks

Stretch marks (also referred to as striae) are a common skin condition that often manifest as stripes with abnormal color and texture. Stretch marks are a natural response by the skin to a rapid expansion of a body mass, commonly seen with obesity or pregnancy. It is estimated that nearly 90% of all pregnant women will develop stretch marks during their pregnancy. Stretch marks are also genetic: if you’re immediate family has a history of stretch marks, it is likely that you are susceptible.

For many men and women, stretch marks can be a source of embarrassment, spurring a huge growth in products and treatments targeting stretch mark removal. We’ll take an in-depth look at stretch marks and discuss which stretch mark removal treatments have been proven to be effective.

What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks can develop when the dermis (second layer of skin) is stretched over a prolonged period of time, leading to inflammation and subsequent breakdown of collagen fibers. Because of this inflammatory process, blood vessels in the area dilate, giving stretch marks a typical purple or red color early on. After a period of months, the destructive inflammatory process subsides and stretch marks appear white.

Can stretch marks ever fully disappear?

Bright red, very early stretch marks (within a few weeks of developing) may be completely reversible. Unfortunately, many patients seek treatment months to years following their development, after the inflammatory process within the stretch marks has had time to produce irreversible damage. Once stretch marks have turned white, they can be improved but will likely never completely vanish. Any product or treatment promising to completely get rid of white stretch marks should be looked at with skepticism. However, there are treatments that effectively minimize the visual appearance of stretch marks, specifically targeting their color and texture.

What stretch mark treatments really work?

Many of the products touted on late night infomercials promising to get rid of stretch marks are either completely ineffective or only provide minimal temporary improvement in their appearance. To date, no topical cream has been shown to be effective for the treatment of stretch marks.

However, there are clinical treatments available to improve the appearance of stretch marks. A V-Beam laser or intense pulsed light device can be utilized to decrease or eliminate the redness associate with new stretch marks. Resurfacing lasers, such as the Fraxel re:Store and ResurFX devices, are a safe and proven treatment option that impact both skin texture and pigmentation by rebuilding collagen in the treated area. Early stretch marks are best treated with combination therapy in order to reverse the inflammatory process and prevent collagen destruction.

Daniel Friedmann, MD

Daniel P. Friedmann, M.D. is a fellowship-trained, board-certified dermatologist and phlebologist at Westlake Dermatology and Clinical Research Director of the Westlake Clinical Research Center. He has presented nationally on photorejuvenation, noninvasive fat reduction, radiofrequency devices, up-to-date techniques in photodynamic therapy, the management of stretch marks, and the treatment of hand, chest, and facial veins.

22 Responses to “Stretch Mark Removal: What Really Works?”

  1. Avatar Seth A. says:

    Thanks for sharing this information on stretch marks. My wife after pregnancy has stretch marks, and wants a plastic surgeon to remove them. She doesn’t know much about procedures regarding stretch marks, though, so I will send this to her. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Avatar Shannon B. says:

    I am interested in the research study for stretch marks if still available

  3. Avatar Rosalind says:

    Hi there, I really enjoyed this article. I wanted to
    write a little comment to support you!

  4. Avatar Tim says:

    Nice post 🙂

  5. Avatar Lee S. says:

    Very informative! Thanks for sharing. In my experience, I’ve used laser treatment and Microdermabrasion to get rid of my old and big stretch marks. For those new ones however, I got rid rid of them just by using some home remedies and natural oils.

  6. Avatar Erika E. says:

    I have developed really bad stretch marks from m pregnancy and my whole belly has turned dark. I started using dermelastic Serum a month back and have seen good progress so far. My stretch marks around my naval area seem to have lightened a bit. I will continue to use this product.

  7. Avatar Rena says:

    I hate my stretch marks!!!!!

  8. Avatar beau says:

    I was rather overweight a few years back and have since dieted down to a normal BMI, however, I now find myself having a normal body that is full of scars and marks! For three weeks, I have been using the Somaluxe Firming Lotion and I still have some left but I found that my stretch marks are less red. I hope if I keep using it longer they will dissappear !

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Beau, thanks for reading and submitting your comment. Also congratulations on getting to a normal BMI. Please let us know how the firming lotion works!

  9. Avatar Andy says:

    My stretch marks are the worst because they’re very long and purple. I’m hopeful that when I lose more weight around my tummy that they’ll become less noticeable, but knowing me and my luck, it probably won’t happen.

  10. Avatar Paula says:

    I’ve been trying some creams for my stretch marks but did not get good results. What can I do?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Paula,

      Thanks for reading our post! Unfortunately most stretch mark removal creams are ineffective. Laser treatments are definitely one of the most effective means of treating stretch marks. Please call us to schedule an appointment and we can find the best laser treatment for your specific needs!

      WD Staff

  11. Avatar Kanisha says:

    I had a few stretch marks on the side of my belly at 20 weeks of pregnancy, I immediately started using dermelastic serum and the marks disappeared a few weeks later, I am 35 weeks now and so far no stretch marks.

  12. Avatar Katia says:

    I gained a lot of weight this year and dermelastic serum got rid of ALL my red stretch marks that were new. I rubbed it on my thighs, hips and chest, every night after my shower. The smell is a tiny bit musky but it’s not bad and fades. It doesn’t stain clothes or sheets. I noticed a difference after about 3-4 weeks of use.

  13. Avatar Irene says:

    I wanted to ask about pricing for stretchmark treatment please.


    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Irene,

      Thanks for reading our post and for your interest! The cost for treatment will depend on the treatment area (size) and characteristics like severity. So unfortunately the only way to quote a price is through an in-person consultation. If you are in the Austin area, please give us a call to setup a consult!

      WD Staff

  14. Avatar Jenna says:

    hate stretchmarks 🙁

  15. Avatar Pam says:

    If you are pregnant, Dermalmd stretch mark removal serum is your go to! I am 6 months pregnant and have been using this twice a day since 5 weeks, and so far no stretch marks. It feels great on your skin and does not stain or leave an oily residue on your clothes.

  16. Avatar Jaime says:

    The creams and simple tricks DO NOT WORK. Thinking about laser and this really helped me make sense of everything. Thanks for sharing

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