Ugh, and there they are. We were warned, so we shouldn’t be surprised, right? Yeah, well, show us a woman who isn’t shocked when she first sees a stretch mark, warning or not. The sad fact is, we can’t really get around them. Women of all ages regardless of height, weight, or parental status are susceptible to stretch marks. Another fact, which will hopefully make you feel a bit better, is that supermodels yes, the bikini models you see in Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret, suffer from stretch marks, too.
Ultimately, stretch marks are an unfortunate reality that comes with pregnancy, puberty and any other weight or muscle gain where the skin is stretched. There are preventative measures you can take to keep them at bay, but you want to be wary of claims that seem good to be true and always consult with a credentialed doctor when considering any kind of cosmetic procedure.
If you’re anything like us and you wish you could just wiggle your nose and make your stretch marks disappear, we feel you. We’re not hiding out when the warm weather hits and we’re not giving up our shorts, either. So how do we beat these damn things?
As it turns out, there are solutions to stretch marks, and we’ve got ’em. Here are several facts on popular procedures and topical options to prevent and remove their unsightly appearance in your life.
4 EXPERT WAYS TO GET RID OF STRETCH MARKS
Option #1: Topical Creams & Preventative Foods
There are a variety of topical treatments, the ones with cocoa butter are the trend, but they won’t do much if anything to improve severe stretch marks. These creams and oils perform better when used as preventive measures because fully developed stretch marks are rarely skin-deep.
Gelatin powder has been suggested as a great way to get more collagen into your system. Coconut oil mixed with beeswax is said to prevent stretch marks especially when applied throughout the day. Eating foods rich in vitamin C can help prevent stretch marks from the inside out. Adding things like red peppers, parsley, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts to your diets are good bets.
BOTTOM LINE: Creams and oils perform best if you use them preventatively and also consider your diet.
Option #2: Lasers
Many women who have post pregnancy stretch marks turn to lasers to eliminate this unwanted scarring. Kim Kardashian recently announced via her Snapchat that she would undergo laser treatments to rid her stretch marks. The Coolbeam laser, which is the one Kim is going with, requires up to 5 treatments at around $5,000 per treatment which adds up to $25,00—but they’re not all that expensive.
Lasers are known for high level of safety and efficacy and most patients come away very pleased with the result. The treated area heals rather quickly, within a week to three weeks.
BOTTOM LINE: Lasers are far less invasive than a tummy tuck, which has a much longer recovery time. Beware the risks though. Lasers can burn the skin or cause tissue damage. Therefore, it’s very important to choose a doctor who knows what they are doing.
Option #3: Platelet Rich Plasma with Micro-needling
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has been around for the past two decades and used to help athletes like Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez recover from injury. A few years ago, the “Vampire Facial” made headlines when Micro-needling was added to the procedure offering a vibrant, smooth, flawless complexion. The results were so great that cosmetic surgeons started to explore other parts of the body such as stretch marks on the buttocks, breast, arms, thighs and abdomen.
How does it work? Blood is taken from the patient then put into a machine that separates the platelet rich plasma from the blood. It is then spread over the face after the micro-needling is completed.
The micro-needling is a process where a pen-like tool with several tiny needles at the tip is carefully guided over the affected area making microscopic holes on both the outer and inner layers of skin. These holes are so small that they heal within a few hours. The process triggers a healing response in the dermis layer which is what causes the fast fading of stretch marks. Doctors recommend micro-needling with PRP over any other treatment because the results are significant and the cost is about $1000 per session.
The advantage of micro-needling with PRP for stretch marks over lasers is a lesser chance of scarring and skin discoloration. Skin on the body is more susceptible to hyperpigmentation than on the face making Micro-needling is a safer option for ethnicities with varying skin tones. This is a big advantage over cool beam lasers, IPL or chemical peels.
BOTTOM LINE: Micro-needling with PRP is a combination that offers a fast, in office option, with excellent results and is less costly than lasers.
Option #4: The Tummy Tuck
The tummy tuck is the gold standard for removing stretch marks because it offers the the best results. But it’s invasive and the recovery time is longer.
Known as abdominoplasty, the procedure removes excess skin in the abdominal region and tightens the muscles. The stretch marks below the belly button are discarded along with the excess skin. The tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that comes with risk so typically candidates must be non-smokers in good physical health. It is the only option for complete and permanent stretch mark removal. Recovery time can be up to 6 weeks and again it is critical that one chooses a reputable doctor. A botched tummy tuck can lead to off-centered belly buttons, long thick scars, and dangerous infections.
BOTTOM LINE: The tummy tuck is the gold standard for removing stretch marks because it is the only way to get rid of them permanently. But it’s also the most invasive.
Dr. Kirk Brandow is a trusted expert plastic surgeon who has developed many innovative, minimally invasive procedures for the face, body and skin. He has been featured on local, national and international television programs including 20/20, CNN’s Headline News, Good Morning America.