Stretch marks can occur when the skin is stretched because of pregnancy as well as weight gain or loss. They are caused when the middle layer of skin gets stretched too quickly, and some of the collagen fibers break. While they are not harmful to your health or painful, they can take a toll on your confidence. Prescription retinoid creams work to reduce new red stretch marks by increasing the production of collagen and stimulating new blood vessels in the skin. Lasers can also be used to both flatten stretch marks and decrease the redness.
Retinoic acid cream, also known as 0.1 percent tretinoin works by rebuilding collagen in the skin to improve stretch marks. It is only available by prescription, and works best on newer stretch marks.
Laser Treatments for Stretch Marks
The pulsed dye laser and fractional laser are the two most common types of lasers used to treat stretch marks. Different lasers target different types of stretch marks including darker or white marks. Pulsed dye lasers are ideal for treating dark or red stretch marks, while fractional lasers are ideal for white or lightly colored stretch marks. However, the goal is always to achieve smoother, stretch mark-free skin. Both types of lasers use wavelengths of light to stimulate collagen and elastin in the skin. There is often little to no downtime associated with laser treatments for stretch marks.