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Dealing With Stretch Marks From a Medical Perspective

DrSugar Answers: Can I Prevent Stretch Marks?

DrSugar is in the house! She's here to answer your health-related questions, and this week she's discussing stretch marks.

Dear DrSugar,
I have been dieting and losing weight, which is the good news. The bad news is I have stretch marks around my breasts, belly, and hips — not so attractive. Are they going to be permanent? Is there anything I can do to prevent them or make them go away? Thanks!
— Stressing on Stretch Marks

Thanks for asking this question because I’m sure that stretch marks are a common concern for other FitSugar readers. Medline Plus defines stretch marks, also known as striae, as irregular areas of skin that look like bands, stripes, or lines. Striae are typically seen when a person grows or gains weight rapidly or has certain conditions or diseases. To learn more about stretch marks, including prevention and treatment options, keep reading.

Stretch marks seem to develop in a variety of circumstances, and mostly in women. They are quite common in pregnancy, with most women developing stretch marks toward the end of their pregnancy, especially if they're carrying larger babies. Substantial rapid weight gain or growth spurts are also likely to cause stretch marks. Chronic use of steroid-containing medications, such as lotions, creams, or pills, can cause stretch marks. They can also be associated with certain medical conditions such as Cushing's syndrome or adrenal gland diseases, hereditary disorders that cause abnormal collagen formation, and diabetes.

When it comes to stretch marks, prevention is better than treatment or removal. Even at best prevention is difficult, no matter if you do your best to rub plenty of creams, oils, and lotions on your skin. The best way to reduce the likelihood of getting stretch marks is to maintain a healthy weight.

In regard to your question as to whether or not your stretch marks will be permanent, this is hard to answer, but the answer is they could likely be permanent. Although, according to Medline Plus, marks can disappear after the cause of the skin stretching is gone. If your stretch marks do not go away with time, then there are some medical and cosmetic treatments that can be used to try to reduce the appearance of the stretch marks. However, if you do seek treatment for stretch marks, you should be aware that treatments can be only partially effective and won't remove them completely. Treatments that could be used include tretinoin cream, pulsed dye laser therapy, fractional photothermolysis, microdermabrasion, and many more. For more information on treatment options, I recommend seeking consultation with your primary care physician or with a dermatologist.

Have a question for DrSugar? You can send to me via private message here, and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

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