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How can I Get Rid of Stretch Marks?

What are the best ways to get rid of stretch marks around my stomach and on my sides?

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Referred to as striae by dermatologists, stretch marks are usually caused by fluctuations in weight loss or weight gain. Some are caused by genetics or are brought on by an illness. Whatever the reason, you should know that there are numerous options and treatments available to you.

• Prevention and Fading: Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise plan will help you prevent stretch marks. Losing or gaining weight gradually, and keeping your skin moisturized with lots of lotion are key to prevention and fading. The striae can be visibly red at first, over a period of time they should fade in color.

• Exfoliation: There are several do it yourself options for striae exfoliation. They usually require common ingredients like baking soda or oatmeal. These remedies are gentle on the skin, and results can depend on how old the striae are, the location on the body, and how severe they may be.

• Microdermabrasion: This procedure is a little more intense and not recommended for those with sensitive skin. Research suggests that by repetitive treatments of removing the top layer of skin (it requires a machine that emits these itty bitty, rough particles) and allowing new skin to grow, hopefully improving the appearance of the striae.

• Creams and Lotions: This option is usually more effective with recently formed stretch marks. Products that have a lot of Vitamin E and C help to keep your skin moisturized however, this will not prevent striae. Coco butter is very popular among pregnant woman as treatment but further research shows that it really only moisturizes the skin. There are some creams and lotions that have Vitamin E and elastin in them that were shown to be more effective than coco butter. Pregnant women especially should ask their doctor about any effective prescription treatments.

• Chemical Peels: This treatment should only be done by someone is medically qualified. Peels can be painful, and may cause scarring or even infection. This option uses acid to take away the surface layer of skin. Results vary with peels, some see a more even skin tone, but chances are very unlikely it will remove striae permanently.

• Laser Treatments: This can be more costly, but some laser procedures have shown to achieve more desired results when used overtime. This seems to work better for striae because the pulsed laser goes through the surface layer of skin and causes new tissue to grow in the layer of skin where the striae are. Fractional laser treatments are different, this involves the laser making microscopic openings and causing new collagen to form, thus showing a decrease in visibility and scartissue. Laser treatments can cause bruising and discoloration of the skin though.

• Surgery: Although an expensive option, it's a guaranteed option. However, depending on the location of the striae, this may not be the option for you. Tummy tucks are very common procedures for striae that have formed on the lower abdomen. There is also body contouring surgery, which is more common for stretch marks formed from weight fluctuation.

You should always consult a dermatologist before starting any treatment for stretch marks.

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