What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are the streaks that sometimes appear on the skin during pregnancy. They usually start out as pink, red or purple streaks and can appear on the abdomen or breasts. The bright colored streaks fade to white or gray over a time.

There is no way to prevent stretch marks; some women simply don’t get them during pregnancy.

What causes stretch marks?

The stretching of the skin causes stretch marks. Both the stretching of the skin as well as hormonal factors causes stretch marks in pregnancy. In pregnancy, you are more likely to develop stretch marks if you have a family history of them, if you are overweight, or if you use a corticosteroid medication.

Is there cause for concern over stretch marks?

Stretch marks are perfectly harmless; they are only a cosmetic issue.

Do creams and ointments help stretch marks?

While some products claim to prevent or treat stretch marks, they aren’t a big help. Such products usually contain cocoa butter, vitamin E or even coconut oil. They will not hurt your skin but probably will not help it much either.

However, over time stretch marks usually fade.

What can I expect if I do get treatment for stretch marks?

There are a few treatments that may offer minimal help for stretch marks.

  • Creams that contain Retin-A, Renova or Avita may help diminish recent stretch marks that are still red or pink. These creams help to reestablish collagen. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your OB/GYN may want you to delay usage.
  • Laser treatments use the laser to stimulate collagen, elastin and melanin production in your skin.
  • Microdermabrasion is done with a device that blows crystals on the stretch mark area. The crystals gently massage the skin and remove the top skin layer that stimulates growth of new and more elastic skin.
  • Alternative treatments include olive oil, certain plant extracts, vitamins and fruit acids.

Contact your neighborhood Texas Health Care Obstetrics & Gynecology clinic in DFW for more information on treatment to help diminish stretch marks.