What You Actually Can Do About Stretch Marks

I have stretch marks. You probably do, too — statistically speaking, of course. Eighty percent of women have these little scars, and by my estimate, nearly 100 percent of us have felt self-conscious about them. They appear like little lightning bolts zig-zagging their way across our thighs, our bellies, our breasts. They can be purple, pinkish, or (as mine are) paler than the rest of your skin. Stretch marks can appear during pubescent growth spurts, but they develop in adulthood, too; around half of all pregnant women will develop them. Point is, they're common.
Here's the rub: Stretch marks are also impossible to eliminate. Yes, while stretch marks are fresh and new, you may be able to improve their appearance — or, at least, keep them from getting deep. Some people recommend rubbing shea butter on the marks, while others run out for a prescription of topical tretinoin. But, these treatments aren't guaranteed to do much on new stretch marks, and on old ones, they won't do a thing.
So, what to do about them in the long run? No cream will make stretch marks disappear, but laser technology holds promise. Four or five treatments with a fractional nonablative laser can improve the texture of stretch marks. Sounds good, but each session can cost $500 or more — and at best, you'll see around 50% improvement. That takes us back to the most reliable (and, perhaps, most challenging) way to deal with your stretch marks: self-acceptance. Because if you can't beat 'em, you might as well learn to live with them.

Photo: Via NOAA.

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