Why Stretch Marks Occur: What You Can Do to Treat Them?

Whether they are caused from rapid weight gain or loss or from pregnancy, stretch marks can happen to both women and men. In some instances the marks appear during growth spurts in the early teen years. Even celebrities are plagued with the surface eyesores, including such popular stars as Jennifer Lopez and Leann Rimes. So, how do these unforgiving marks form upon the skin?


Blame It On Your Hormones

While you might think that a stretch mark forms because of stretching skin, that particular yet understandable notion is a misconception. The unsightly purple and red marks come about from hormonal changes. During any period of growth, whether it is due to weightlifting, pregnancy or adolescence, hormonal changes are the primary reason that stretch marks appear.
While it is true that your skin expands when you gain muscle mass or you get bigger, it is not the expansion that lends itself to the formation of the marks. Doctors say, instead, that metabolic and hormonal changes are the true culprits. Therefore, the skin might expand during pregnancy but hormonal shifts in the body cause a stretchmark to appear.

Applying a Steroidal Type Cream

One way the look of a stretch mark can be reduced is by the use of a steroid cream. Because stretch marks are also caused from inflammation, a steroid cream will help in reducing the inflammation and in smoothing the look of the skin. Typically, a steroid cream is combined with a retinoid cream or alpha-hydroxyl acid, either of which help in remodel collagen. With this formulation, women and men see their wrinkles, stretch marks and any blemishes fade away over time.

Placebo Type Creams

With that being said, there are a number of products that also don’t work, all which claim that they can minimize and eliminate stretch marks. None of these creams or lotions offers little, if any, proof to back up their claims. For instance, one study found that certain ingredients had no effect on stretch marks and were not any better, in essence, than a placebo in their effect. While these types of skincare products will make your skin feel smoother and silkier, they simply will do little for removing stretch marks from your skin.

Treating Stretch Marks – the Various Solutions

Unfortunately, stretch marks do not happen solely to a certain age group or gender. They can occur at any time, in response to a growth spurt or rapid loss or gain of weight. Medically, the marks are called striae distensae, due to the collagen and elastic fiber loss that happens in the deeper layer of the skin. Scientists calculate that around 95% of women possess stretch marks in one form or another during their lives.

Laser Therapy

Vascular Laser Therapy

One of the popular treatments for stretch marks is the laser. A vascular laser is usually the best remedy for purple and red stretch marks. Because stretch marks form, as well, from collagen damage, the laser is used to target the newest marks so collagen can be produced. The laser is also used to lessen the inflammation in the skin and reduce inflamed or swollen blood vessels. Usually patients need to undergo 6 laser treatments in order to see results.

Fractional Laser Treatments

For stretch marks that are older marks, which are white or silver in color, a fractional laser versus a vascular laser is usually used. This laser targets the skin surrounding the stretch mark and acts as a type of catalyst for the creation of healthy tissue and new collagen. Patients usually undergo about three session to see even and smoother skin. While this treatment is quite expensive, it will definitely remove the marks or make them much less noticeable.

Intense Pulse Light Therapy

The use of intense pulse light or IPL is often used to improve stretch marks that are pinkish or reddish in color by reducing the color alterations. However, any irregularities in the texture of the marks generally are not improved when this form of treatment is used.


When microdermabrasion is used to remove stretch marks, the top layer of old skin cells are also removed, thereby improving the tone and texture of the skin. This procedure provides results after several treatments. However, this particular therapy cannot address the deeper layers of the skin where stretch marks occur and, as a result, is not the most ideal treatment option.

Chemical Peels

Like microdermabrasion, chemical peels will remove the old dead skin cells and improve the looks of discoloration. When using this method, it is best to rely on peels that are classified as prescription-strength – ones that are performed by a dermatologist rather than an esthetician in a spa. Chemical peels are therefore not a typical stretch mark therapy.

Prescription Creams

A prescription type cream, such as Retin-A, will assist in thickening the skin, which, in turn, reduces the looks of stretch marks.

OTC Creams

A number of stretch mark creams are available in the marketplace. Some creams that are sold in drugstores have been known to help, including products that feature such ingredients as ammonium lactate (a mild form of alpha hydroxyl acid) or the above-mentioned Retin-A.


In certain procedures, where the skin happens to be removed, such as a breast reduction or tummy tuck, the stretch marks are also removed. However, these are invasive procedures that are also expensive. Therefore, removing your stretch marks should not be the main reason to go ahead and opt for a procedure. You may get rid of the stretch marks but you will also replace them with a scar. Liposuction will not improve the appearance of stretch marks either.


What you consume will also not get rid of stretch marks that form on the skin. However, a diet that features fruits and vegetables will promote your skin health and can help in preventing the creation of further marks, especially if your stretch marks are due to gaining weight.

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