How to get rid of stretch marks - five things you can try
Given their name, it’s hardly surprising that stretch marks are formed when skin is pulled by rapid growth or stretching, on the stomach, upper arms, thighs or buttocks.
When our skin is overstretched, the normal production of collagen is disrupted – and the resulting scars are what 88 per cent of us will experience at some point in our lives.
They can be the result of puberty, pregnancy or weight loss, but their severity is affected by many factors, including genetics and the degree of stress on the skin. Even hormones such as cortisol – nature’s built-in alarm system – plays a role as it weakens elastic fibres in the skin.
Stretch marks may never go away completely, but their purple or red hue can fade to silver over time, and there are treatments that can lessen their appearance before then.
So, if you’re curious about how to get rid of stretch marks, you do have options. But what are they and how do they work?
1. Eat a nutritious diet
Eating a nutrient-rich diet can increase the amount of collagen your body produces, and collagen is what we need to give our skin more elasticity. This helps to reduce the chance of stretch marks occurring or becoming darker.
Try to include as much vitamin C, D and E, zinc and protein in your diet as possible. These can be found in:
- Lean proteins – salmon, tuna, tofu, beans, egg whites, peanuts, oysters, chicken, turkey, lentils, kidney beans, pumpkin and flax seeds.
- Vegetables – broccoli, spinach, kale, sprouts, carrots, garlic, red peppers, beets, green beans.
- Fruits – cherries, berries, tomatoes, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, avocados.
Staying hydrated also massively helps with skin elasticity, reducing wrinkles and helping to make your skin firmer in general, so try to drink between three and four litres of water a day.
2. Topical creams and oils
There is no miracle lotion, but over time, creams and oils help the skin increase its elasticity and hydrate it – reducing the chance of marks worsening and potentially fading them too.
If you’re a fan of natural oils, there are lots to choose from when it comes to getting rid of stretch marks. Argan, bitter almond, bitter orange, neroli and patchouli oils are all hugely popular.
Pure aloe vera is also a natural healer and has been found to help ease eczema, acne and sunburn. It contains antioxidants and vitamins A and C, making it an ideal stretch marks treatment. Experiment with the gel inside an aloe vera plant or buy already packaged. Either way, use daily and don’t rinse off any residue.
Vitamin A retinoids can help to rebuild collagen in your skin and fade the appearance of stretch marks. If you're pregnant or have a newborn, talk with your doctor about other treatment options, as possible side-effects of retinoid cream may affect the baby.
Bio-Oil has also long been recommended as a scar treatment.
Microneedling is a procedure that uses small needles to prick the skin. Commonly used on the face to stimulate smoother and firmer skin by generating new collagen production, it can also be used on acne scars, large pores, wrinkles and as a stretch marks treatment.
For an option that penetrates even deeper into the skin, RF microneedling uses radio-frequency waves to stimulate collagen induction, in addition to the use of tiny needles. As well as helping to rejuvenate skin in general, it can be highly effective at reducing the appearance of stretch marks as well.
You may need two to three sessions before you start to see any results. Remember, there’s no treatment that can completely get rid of stretch marks, but this can help reduce their visibility.
Fillers are injections that work by stimulating and volumising collagen in the areas affected by the stretch marks, improving the texture and appearance of the skin. Fillers can be used in combination with other treatments, such as microneedling, however, as with many other aesthetic procedures, you may need a few rounds before you notice the results.
5. Laser therapy
Having laser therapy can reduce the appearance of marks by using a concentrated beam of light to remove the outer layer of skin, which then helps it restructure. This process then makes the stretch marks appear smoother to the eye and the touch. It’s important to note that this procedure generally works best on new or early marks, so consulting a clinician in good time is recommended.
There are various possibilities for helping stretch marks fade. Use our clinic locator to find potential treatments near you.
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