Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are caused when pregnancy stretches belly skin. The condition is hereditary, so women whose mothers had stretch marks following pregnancy are likely to acquire them as well. Stretch marks also can occur after a large amount of weight is gained or lost. They may also develop after taking certain strong medications such as steroids. Stretch marks can appear pink, reddish brown, brown, or dark brown, and fade over time to a more silvery-white color.

Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., discusses stretch marks and treatments.

What you need to know

It’s best to treat stretch marks as early as possible. Research has shown stretch marks treated in the earliest stages — when they are still purple or red — more readily respond to treatment. Once stretch marks pass to the later stage — when they become white or silver, sometimes with deep indentations – they are much more challenging to treat.

Do's and Don'ts

Do...
  • Keep stretch marks well moisturized to promote pliant and supple skin.
  • Have stretch marks treated in the earliest possible stages.
Don't...
  • Attempt to treat stretch marks using creams and ointments containing peptides. There is no convincing evidence that such preparations work.

Stretch mark removal questions to ask a dermatologic surgeon

Stretch Marks Questionaire

  1. Which stretch mark procedure is the correct one for me? (What are the options?)
  2. What is the estimated cost of the procedure?
  3. How long is one appointment?
  4. How often will I need to receive treatment to remove my stretch marks?
  5. How far apart are the treatments?
  6. What are the common side effects or complications associated with the procedure?
  7. How can I prepare for the treatment/procedure?
  8. Does stretch mark removal hurt?
  9. What are my pain management and anesthesia options?
  10. How long is the recovery time associated with my procedure?
  11. Do you have before-and-after patient images to help to prepare me for what to expect?
  12. Will someone walk me through the process before going in for treatment?
  13. What are the risks?
  14. What should I expect after the procedure is performed? (i.e. short-term and long-term effects; activity restrictions; expected recovery period)

General questions to ask before stretch mark procedures

  1. Is a doctor on site?
  2. Is the doctor board-certified in dermatology or another specialty with equivalent training and experience?
  3. Was my medical history taken?
  4. Was I given an initial evaluation to determine if the technique or procedure is appropriate for my skin type?
  5. Did the doctor show me before-and-after photos?