Dermatologists have an arsenal of tools to get rid of old, persistent, white stretch marks.
For people with fair skin, the dermatologist might use a series of pulsed dye laser treatments. For patients with darker skin, the doctor might employ an innovative therapy based on intensive non-laser light, designed to injure the skin just enough, like a sunburn, to stimulate collagen production. These treatments usually cost $1,000 to $10,000.
All patients who are not pregnant or lactating might receive Accutane, Retin-A, or Differin, the same medications used to treat cystic acne, to make the skin grow so fast it fills in the stretch mark. Costing several hundred dollars a month and usually not covered by insurance, these drugs require careful monitoring to prevent suicidal depression and/or liver disease.
Dermatologists can also offer chemical peels, but this likewise-expensive procedure can cause permanent discoloration of darker skin. What’s someone with white stretch marks to do short of winning Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Fortunately, there are slower but still effective methods of dealing with white stretch marks that don’t cost a fortune. The best approach to curing white stretch marks depends on their location.
White Stretch Marks on the Stomach
White stretch marks on the stomach result from fast weight loss, fast weight gain, and pregnancy. The most effective way to treat white stretch marks on the stomach is massage, preferably steel roller massage. Tiny metal studs on a steel roller irritate the skin just enough to increase collagen production. It’s not necessary or desirable to draw blood or to cause pain. Over a period of weeks, daily steel roller massage stimulates growth in the skin that fills in stretch marks.
White Stretch Marks on the Legs, Thighs, and Buttocks
The same methods that treat cellulite in women can treat white stretch marks on the legs, thighs, and buttocks of both males and females of all ages. Creams like Mederma that contain the Ayurvedic herb gotu kola send the plant chemical forskolin into the skin. This chemical recharges the antioxidant processes that power cells called fibroblasts to make collagen that fills in stretch marks from the inside out. Women who are trying to get pregnant should avoid using any product that contains gotu kola (Centella asiatica) because the tissue growth process that builds up the skin also prevents ovulation.
White Stretch Marks on the Breasts in Women
Teenage girls often develop stretch marks around the breasts shortly after puberty. It’s important to support the breast with a bra so that it does not sag down, pulling the skin tight. In older women, choice of brassiere is not as important to treating stretch marks occurring during pregnancy or after breastfeeding, but there is greater benefit from regular, preferably daily, massage. Use light stroke to pull skin away from the nipple, using an especially light touch over the heart. For best results, the massage that relieves stretch marks should be sensual, not rough. Regenerative creams like Mederma and Revitol will also help, although there is no benefit from products containing lanolin or shea butter unless the skin is unusually dry.
White Stretch Marks Around the Shoulders in Bodybuilders
White stretch marks in bodybuilders are a reminder of past bodybuilding programs, because every white stretch mark started as a much more noticeable purple or red stretch mark, usually when an intensive training program was conducted year-round. Stretch marks are also very common in athletes who use androstenedione or illicit steroids.
Getting rid of white stretch marks in athletes is usually best accomplished with microdermabrasion. This technique lifts and separates dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, reducing tension on the skin. Combined with vitamin-based treatments like Mederma and Revitol, microdermabrasion slowly eliminates white stretch marks over a period of several months. Home microdermabrasion kits are about 80 per cent less expensive than microdermabrasion at the dermatologist’s office.