Stretch marks (striae) are a form of atrophic scarring that occurs due to a combination of hormonal changes and sudden expansion of the skin that outpaces collagen and elastin production. Periods of rapid weight gain, growth spurts associated with puberty, and the body changes that occur during pregnancy are all factors associated with striae formation. A stretch mark starts out looking like a reddish or purplish line that eventually fades to white or silver. There is no proven method to prevent these scars from occurring (although avoiding rapid weight gain may help).

Potential Treatments

  • Retin A and other topical retinoid creams that are used for treating hyperpigmentation may also be helpful for minimizing striae.
  • During the initial stage of stretch mark formation (when the striae are red), a pulsed-dye laser may be used to lessen inflammation and fade the marks to a more normal color.
  • Stretch marks that have already faded to white may be treated with a fractional laser. This technique removes some of the scar tissue and may stimulate collagen production. After the treated area heals, it may have an improved color and texture.
  • Excimer lasers that remove scar tissue while simultaneously promoting melanin production may also be helpful for restoring normal pigmentation in some cases.

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