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Stretch marks (or striae) are pink, reddish or purplish indented streaks that often appear on the abdomen, breasts, upper arms, buttocks and thighs. Stretch marks are particularly common in pregnant women, especially during the latter half of pregnancy.
You may be concerned about these bright streaks on your skin, but stretch marks aren't serious and fade over time.

Anonymous and Mz Undefeated want to know what they can do to get rid of stretch marks caused by pregnancy and weight loss--

The truth about stretch marks is that nothing you put on them will completely take them away. Even expensive laser surgeries do not guarantee that you will walk out of your doctors office looking the way you did before those unsightly stretch marks made their appearance. The good news is that even without any treatment they will eventually fade over time.

For those who are adamant about getting treatment for their stretch marks the following treatments are among those available to help improve the appearance of stretch marks. None has been proved to be more consistently successful than the others.

• Tretinoin cream. Some research has shown that tretinoin cream (Retin-A, Renova) may improve the appearance of recent stretch marks — those that are less than six weeks old and still pink or red in color. Tretinoin should never be used during pregnancy. Tretinoin, when it works, helps to rebuild collagen, making the stretch mark look more like your normal skin. Tretinoin can irritate your skin. This treatment isn't effective on older stretch marks.
• Pulsed dye laser therapy. Used at wavelengths of light that are nonwounding (nonablative), this type of laser therapy remodels underlying skin (dermis) by stimulating the growth of collagen and elastin. Pulsed dye laser therapy is most effective when stretch marks are new, but it may still be effective on older stretch marks. This type of treatment may alter skin color on darker skin tones.
• Fractional photothermolysis. Like pulsed dye laser therapy, this nonablative laser treatment uses wavelengths of light to stimulate new growth of collagen and elastin. The difference is that it causes partial (fractional) damage to small dot-like areas within a targeted zone. Because most of the treated area remains undamaged, the skin heals quickly.
• Microdermabrasion. This type of treatment involves a hand-held device that blows crystals onto skin. These crystals gently abrade or "polish" the skin's surface. Then, a vacuum tube removes the crystals and skin cells. Microdermabrasion gently removes the skin's topmost layer, which may result in new skin growth that is more elastic. This therapy is an option for older stretch marks.
• Excimer laser. The excimer laser does nothing for collagen or elastin growth. Instead, its aim is repigmentation by stimulating melanin production. If it works, the old and lighter streaks become similar in color to the surrounding skin, and therefore less visible. This is often used for older stretch marks.

Work with your doctor to choose the most appropriate treatment. Factors to consider include:
• Age of the stretch marks
• Convenience of treatment — therapies differ in length and frequency of sessions
• Cost — these options are cosmetic and usually not covered by medical insurance
• Your expectations — most treatments, at best, are only partially effective

For more information on stretch marks:

April 28, 2011 - 10:03am


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