Marsh column: Getting rid of stretch marks

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Q. Can I get rid of stretch marks and can I prevent them in the future?
A. Stretch marks are scars which have developed due to rapid growth, like in puberty or during pregnancy. Your skin gets stretched quickly and the normal production of collagen is disrupted. Collagen is a major protein that makes up the connective tissue of your skin. Your genetic makeup is probably the most important factor whether you get them or not. If your family history includes stretch marks, your chance is very great to get stretch marks, too.
The following is good for overall health and skin:
– Eat a healthy and well balanced diet.
– When pregnant, use a body brush or washcloth to massage the area to increase circulation.
– Drink plenty of water; hydration is critical to healthy skin.
– Skin moisturizers like cocoa butter are an effective way to moisturize but no research studies have shown their ability to prevent stretch marks.
So many products claim to prevent or diminish stretch marks. However, only one randomized controlled study showed that their product could prevent stretch marks.
Laser treatment and dermabrasion are effective ways to get rid of stretch marks. You do need to see a dermatologist and/or plastic surgeon to be able to have these procedures done.
Some good news is that if you got stretch marks due to rapid growth, weight gain, or muscle gains they eventually will diminish but also realize they will never disappear completely.
A cheaper way to make them less noticeable is sunless tanning sprays. Tanning beds do not work because stretch marks are less likely to tan.
And you can always wear bathing suits and clothes that cover the stretch marks up.
Hopefully, your genetics are in your favor.
Contact Ester Marsh with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@