What Are the Treatments for Pregnancy Stretch Marks?

When skin stretches due to accelerated weight gain, such as during pregnancy, stretch marks may occur. While the skin is very elastic, there are certain limits to which it can stretch, and the addition of 25 to 35 pounds brought on by pregnancy can cause stretch marks both on the stomach and the breasts. While purple or red stretch marks may fade to white or silvery streaks over time, there are some more immediate treatment options available to new mothers.

Topical Medications

Medications for the treatment of stretch marks include tretinoin (also known as Retin-A). This topical solution helps decrease redness by causing blood vessels to constrict, making the marks fade to white or flesh color. Breastfeeding mothers should be aware that little testing has been conducted as to whether Retin-A is secreted in breast milk.

Other topical options include using Mederma, a scar removal cream, which uses onion extract as its active ingredent. When applied several times per day, the cream helps to soften the area and promote healing, helping stretch marks appear less pronounced.

Glycolic acid is another treatment option that can be prescribed by a dermatologist. Glycolic acid is known to stimulate collagen production, which may help minimize the appearance of stretch marks. These treatments also can be used in combination with retinoids for best results.

Laser Treatments—New Stretch Marks

If you have recently given birth and are hoping to eliminate new stretch marks that are still red or purple in color, certain laser treatments have been shown to help stimulate healthy cell and collagen production. One such is the V-Beam, a vascular laser aimed at reducing redness, making stretch marks less noticeable.

Laser Treatments—Older Stretch Marks

Stretch marks that have matured over months and have turned into white or silver streaks may require another fractionated laser treatment known as Fraxel. These types of treatments take at least three sessions to show results. Unlike the V-Beam—which treats the skin’s top layer—this laser aims at stimulating production of collagen under the skin’s second layer.

It is important to note that there is no treatment that can fully eliminate stretch marks. While lasers and ointments have been shown to visibly reduce them, stretch marks may not be treatable for some women, based on their skin coloring and genetic history.

When skin stretches due to accelerated weight gain