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Expert Q&A

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What can I do about my stretch marks?

Asked by Kulsum, NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana

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I have stretch marks on my body. I wasn't pregnant nor am I pregnant now. How should I get rid of them permanently without going under the knife? Any safe creams or natural treatments?

Expert Bio Picture

Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Stretch marks are lines on the skin that show up after periods of rapid growth, weight gain or hormonal changes, such as during puberty, pregnancy or bodybuilding.

Also called striae distensae, stretch marks may fade with time, especially if they first appeared during adolescence. In the meantime, there are some nonsurgical methods of hiding or trying to remove these marks.

Cover up. Because stretch marks tend to show up around the upper arms, thighs, hips and breasts, try clothing that will hide the lines. Swimwear such as board shorts, swim skirts and surf shirts may do the trick in the summertime. Also, body makeup or sunless tanning lotions can help.

Soothe the skin. There are a number of creams and oils containing various ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acid, cocoa butter, vitamin E and plant extracts that may help get rid of stretch marks. While their efficacy may vary from person to person, and the products are sometimes costly, their use is probably not harmful. Check with your doctor to see if they may be worth trying in your situation.

Medicate. Your doctor may prescribe a topical retinoid cream to help remove stretch marks. Sometimes topical steroids may be used in combination with other creams or ointments.

See a dermatologist. Skin treatments such as laser therapy, microdermabrasion and chemical peels can help, especially if the stretch marks are relatively new.

Rule out other causes. Certain medical conditions (including Marfan syndrome, Cushing's syndrome, and prolonged use of oral or topical corticosteroids) are associated with the presence of stretch marks. You may want to talk with your doctor to see if you might have an underlying reason for them, other than possibly growth during puberty, since you have never been pregnant.

I invite our readers to share their experiences with removing stretch marks.

Good luck!

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