You can develop stretch marks on almost any part of your body, but most people see them on the arms, back, breasts, buttocks, hips, shoulders, stomach, and torso. Despite how common stretch marks are, it's easy to feel insecure about having them. If you or a loved one is struggling with self-esteem issues, it's okay to reach out for help through an online therapy service.
Unfortunately, just like all scars, striae are usually permanent. However, they’re very likely to lighten up on their own over time. There are also a variety of treatments that can make them less noticeable, as well as ways to camouflage their appearance.
Home Remedies for Stretch Marks
Tanning Vs. Self-Tanner
Some people think tanning may reduce the appearance of their stretch marks, but in reality, the opposite is true! Scars don't tan, so tanning (whether outside or in a tanning bed) will only make them more noticeable. What does help reduce the appearance of stretch marks is self-tanner. While it doesn’t get rid of these scars, it camouflages their appearance so that they appear to be the same color as your surrounding skin.
There are many different brands of body makeup on the market that you can use to make your stretch marks blend in with your skin. Body makeup comes in a huge range of skin tones for different and can be very affordable depending on the specific product you choose and your skin type.
One over-the-counter ingredient that research has shown to reduce the appearance of new stretch marks is hyaluronic acid. Although reading the word “acid” may make you think this ingredient is harsh or painful, applying hyaluronic acid is safe as it is naturally present in your skin and is very gentle. You can find many moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid at your local drugstore, and they’re typically pretty affordable.
If you’d like to take a more aggressive approach to stretch mark removal, it’s necessary to see a doctor and discuss your options. The following procedures and prescriptions are a few of the most common ones used to help make stretch marks less obvious.
Tretinoin, often called Retin-A, contains a similar compound to Vitamin A. It increases collagen production, encouraging the skin to renew itself and fading stretch marks. Tretinoin or Retin-A is also used for acne and wrinkle treatment. Although it’s effective, it can be irritating to the skin.
Light and laser therapy
Pulsed dye laser therapy is a medical procedure that can be used to get rid of stretch marks. It involves a pain-free blast of light on new striae, and the energy from the light calms blood vessels under the skin, thereby improving the appearance of them. Redness for a few hours afterwards is normal, but contact a doctor is symptoms persist for several weeks.
This medical procedure for stretch marks involves a handheld device with tiny needles. Microneedling results in increased collagen production. Since it comes with less risk of hyperpigmentation than light and laser therapy, it’s often preferred by those with darker skin tones but has similar results.
Chemical peels don’t eliminate stretch marks, but they can lessen their appearance. A chemical peel works by applying an acidic solution to the skin. It essentially burns off the top layers of skin, removing damaged and dead skin cells. Then, the chemicals in the peel boost new skin growth.
Microdermabrasion is often used in conjunction with chemical peels. It’s somewhat similar to microneedling, but instead of using tiny needles, it employs small crystals which remove the top layer of skin. Microdermabrasion has been shown to fade stretch marks, but it doesn’t remove them completely.
Radiofrequency isn’t used as often as some of the other procedures on this list. It has only been proven to improve the appearance of stretch marks by one small study, so more research is needed. This procedure uses radio wave energy to create heat and encourage collagen production.
Similar to radiofrequency, ultrasound treatment for stretch marks sends sound waves deep into the skin. These sound waves heat the skin, tighten it, and stimulate new collagen production to lighten stretch marks.
A more invasive approach, cosmetic surgery for striae usually refers to a tummy tuck. While this does remove the extra skin containing mature stretch marks, it’s usually expensive and painful, and it leaves behind new scars.
Social media can cause major problems with self-esteem, especially if you tend to compare yourself to others. Start by unfollowing anyone who makes you feel insecure (you can also hide their posts if you don’t want to unfollow them). Then, seek out others with a similar body type to yours that you think look great. Better yet, ditch social media altogether, even for just a few days, and notice the way your inner critic becomes much quieter.
You are more than just your body! Make a list of ten things you love about your personality and character. Maybe you go above and beyond for the people you care about, or maybe you’re great at setting and achieving goals. Perhaps you’re a talented singer, a passionate artist, or an awesome person to see for advice. Keep the list handy, so you can refer back to it anytime you’re feeling down.
Your body has brought you this far in life- give it some credit and respect! Consider everything your body does for you on a daily basis and give it some much-deserved praise. Keeping the focus on what you can do rather than what you look like can make a huge difference in your mindset, especially if you commit to this perspective long-term.
Give your body the love and care that it deserves by nourishing it with healthy foods, getting daily exercise, drinking lots of water, and sleeping for seven to nine hours each night. Not only will this make you feel better physically, but it will also make you feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin.
Many people who feel insecure about their bodies choose to wear loose, plain clothing. Instead of trying to make yourself less noticeable, dress the way you want to feel. Imagine yourself as a truly confident person; what would you wear? Take the time to find clothing that makes you feel good about yourself, and wear it with pride!
BetterHelp is here to help you! BetterHelp is an affordable, accessible online counseling platform that matches you with a certified therapist. The same services, specialized to teens, are offered through TeenCounseling for ages 13-19. During weekly text, phone, or video sessions, you can discuss self-esteem, confidence, and anything else that may be negatively affecting your mental health. You may be surprised to see just how much speaking with a therapist can change your perspective and improve not just your self-esteem but your overall health!
“I don’t even know where to begin! Ms. Bent is down right amazing I started working with her a little over a year ago and we immediately clicked. I have been literally fired from every other therapist I have ever had starting at the age of 5. Now I’m 15 and I have been able to learn and teach coping skills as well as share my experiences of mental health issues because of the confidence and strength I’ve learned through Ms. Bent. I will forever be thankful for all the greatness, kindness, and most of all the fact that she doesn’t take anyone’s crap much like me!! Love you Ms. Bent!! ♥️♥️”
Still have questions about developing stretch marks? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions by those who have them.
Depending on the reasoning for your stretch marks, the skin color on the marks, and your doctor’s physical examination, you may need to try other options.
Stretch marks can disappear without treatments as well. They are a normal part of life and body changes. Sometimes, those who have weight loss or weight gain may notice that stretch marks fade with time. They may also disappear as your skin thickens or thins with age. A lifestyle change may also help.
Many people looking to prevent stretch marks that have had them diagnosed by their healthcare provider may feel afraid that this means they have gained weight or are fat. Any person of any age, body type, or gender can have a mark or can develop them. They don't just happen to those who are of a heavier weight.
Peer-reviewed studies show authoritative experiences with stretch marks in all types of people, and many stretch marks are caused by normal body fluctuations and growth. Some of the most popular articles online or in magazines may claim that striae are not normal. They may recommend a certain treatment, which may or may not be safe.
Safer sites like Healthline media blogs can be a good resource, but you should always refer to wellness professionals first. Your healthcare provider can let you know the cause of your marks and can help you treat stretch marks safely.
Many people develop stretch marks on the upper arms, breasts, stomach, inner knees, inner thighs, and sides. If you notice a stretch mark, don’t fret. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your body.
The best treatment for stretch marks is usually topical management. However, more advanced procedures like laser treatment, pulse dye laser treatments, and dermatologic surgery are available for some people. These services can be an invaluable service for those with a noticeable or large and dark scar.
Striae distensae are ones that may stick around a bit longer and often occur due to weight changes. If you have striae distensae, topical treatments may not help at first. You’ll want to speak to a dermatologist that is part of a dermatology association and has relevant experience in this type of mark.
Be sure to continue preventing fraud by not utilizing any products that are not dermatologist-approved, and by checking in with your healthcare professional before adding something to your skin. You may see products with unique IDs on a content ad or popular articles that you have never seen online before while scrolling through a site. Even if they claim that they can completely wipe out scars from pregnancy or weight gain, be sure to confirm with a medical professional before purchasing.
Never purchase a product from a site that doesn’t securely process your information.