While stretch marks are a thing of beauty to some, you may be wondering: Do stretch marks ever disappear? Beauty product manufacturers — who create all manner of lotions and potions that aim to decrease the appearance of stretch marks — seem to believe that it's possible.
Loving your stretch marks is your call. As a gal with stretch marks, I can happily say, I like mine — I feel they show my evolution from skinny teenager to curvier woman. IMO, stretch marks are beautiful and show the journey the owner has endured; whether that be undergoing a body transformation and drastically changing shape from thin to fat or vice-versa, or being a reminder of when your amazing body carried a child for around nine months. But, how you love your body is up to you. Everybody feels empowered by different things. If stretch marks make you feel like an invincible, strong human that's rad, but if they don't, that's fine too.
No matter if you're contemplating getting rid of your stripes or you're just curious if your stretch marks will be with you forever, you'll want to know if stretch marks ever really disappear. So, I spoke with Dr. Sharyn Laughlin, board-certified dermatologist at Laserderm and founder of Cyberderm, The Sunscreen Company, to discover the truth about stretch marks.
"A stretch mark — called striae distensae in medical jargon — is really an atrophic scar where the collagen and elastic fibers in the skin have literally snapped," explains Dr. Laughlin in an email to Bustle. "They are usually seen on the buttocks, thighs, breasts, or abdomen, but can occur over the shoulders, upper arms, and calves more infrequently," she adds.
"They are associated with puberty, pregnancy, steroid therapy — both oral or topical, particularly with the more potent fluorinated steroids — and with sudden weight gain or weight loss. They may be sign of adrenal disease or other endocrine (hormonal) problems," says Dr. Laughlin.
"They begin first as a red linear mark that may increase in width with time and eventually become white as they mature (striae albae). It is best to treat them as early as possible — in the early linear red stage," Dr. Laughlin recommends.
"Pulse dye vascular lasers used to treat port wine stain birthmarks and other blood vessel disorders are the most effective method of treatment. Early and optimal treatment by an expert can usually abolish them completely or reduce their visibility considerably," she explains.
"Adjunctive treatment with prescription retinoic acid medications are useful but require diligence, and may take a while to have any effect," says Dr. Laughlin. She elaborates, "Treatment with retinoic acids are combined with a variety of light based devices in an integrated approach. These include all the technologies used for repair and rejuvenation of the skin (ablative or non-ablative) fractionated erbium, carbon dioxide lasers, and radio-frequency devices, best performed by an experienced and skilled laser dermatologist. The end results may vary depending on the size, maturity, and location of the stretch mark, but some can be markedly improved for a satisfactory cosmetic result."
However, not all types of stretch mark treatments are available to all people, such as pregnant women and adolescents. Dr. Laughlin explains, "Laser treatment can also be used in pregnancy, or in the post-partum period even while nursing, and for any age group at any location. Retinoic acid preparations must be avoided in pregnancy and lactation, and used with caution in adolescents."
"Once the stretch marks become white or mature, effective treatment is more difficult," warns Dr. Laughlin. Therefore, if you want to get rid of your stretch marks, try to begin treatment before they reach this stage.
So stretch marks may disappear depending on the type of treatment you undertake and at what stage you begin treatment. However, if you love your stretch marks just the way they are, leave them alone and let them be a visual representation of your accomplishments and adventures in life!