Ugh, stretch marks! We've got 'em... do you?
Women of all ages, regardless of height, weight or even, whether or not they have children, are susceptible to stretch marks. Ultimately stretch marks come with pregnancy, puberty, and any other weight or muscle gain where the skin is stretched.
Dr. Kirk Brandow, founder and director of the Brandow Clinic for Cosmetic Surgery, shared with us the top four ways to prevent and remove stretch marks. Here’s the scoop...
Option #1: Topical Creams & Preventative Foods
“There are a variety of topical treatments, the ones with cocoa butter are the trend, but they won’t do much if anything to improve severe stretch marks. These creams and oils perform better when used as preventive measures because fully developed stretch marks are rarely skin-deep,” explains Dr. Brandow.
Gelatin powder has been suggested as a great way to get more collagen into your system.That's because Gelatin provides glycine and proline, two amino acids that are used in the production of collagen. Collagen is one of the primary structural elements of skin and stretch marks occur when your body grows faster than what your skin's collagen can handle.
Coconut oil mixed with beeswax is said to prevent stretch marks, especially when applied throughout the day. Care to try this DIY fix? Here's an easy to follow recipe via humblebeeandme.com.
Lastly, eating foods rich in vitamin C can help prevent stretch marks from the inside out. What to eat? Veggies such as red peppers, parsley, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts.
Option #2: Lasers
Many women who have post pregnancy stretch marks turn to lasers to eliminate this unwanted scarring. Case in point: Kim Kardashian recently shared via Snapchat that she would be undergoing laser treatments to get rid of her stretch marks.
The Coolbeam laser, which is the one Kim Kardashian is going with, requires up to five treatments at several thousand dollars per treatment. Lasers are known for high level of safety and efficacy and most patients come away very pleased with the result. The treated area heals rather quickly, within one to three weeks.
“Lasers are far less invasive than a tummy tuck, which has a much longer recovery time. Lasers do have some risk in that they can burn the skin or cause tissue damage. Therefore, it’s very important to choose a doctor who knows what they are doing,” advises Dr. Brandow.
Option #3: Platelet Rich Plasma with Micro-needling
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has been around for the past two decades. PRP has been used to help athletes like Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez recover from injury. A few years ago, the “Vampire Facial” made headlines when micro-needling was added to the procedure offering a vibrant, smooth, flawless complexion. The results were so impressive that cosmetic surgeons started to explore other parts of the body to treat including stretch marks on the buttocks, breast, arms, thighs and abdomen.
How does it work? Blood is taken from the patient and then put into a machine that separates the platelet-rich plasma from the blood. It is then spread over the face after the micro-needling is completed. The micro-needling is a process where a pen-like tool with several tiny needles at the tip is carefully guided over the affected area making microscopic holes on both the outer and inner layers of skin. These holes are so small that they heal within a few hours.
The process triggers a healing response in the dermis layer, which is what causes the fast fading of stretch marks. Doctors recommend micro-needling with PRP over any other treatment because the results are significant. The cost is about $1,000 per session.
“Micro-needling with PRP is a combination that offers a fast, in office option, with excellent results and is less costly than lasers,” explains Dr. Brandow.
Dr. Brandow adds that the advantage of micro-needling with PRP for stretch marks over lasers is a lesser chance of scarring and skin discoloration. “Skin on the body is more susceptible to hyperpigmentation than on the face making Micro-needling is a safer option for ethnicities with varying skin tones. This is a big advantage over cool beam lasers, IPL or chemical peels,” he explains.
Option #4: The Tummy Tuck
If you have stretch marks on your stomach, very common after childbirth, you may be thinking tummy tuck!
The tummy tuck offers the best results for eradicating stretch marks on the belly, however it’s invasive and the recovery time is significant.
Known as abdominoplasty, the procedure removes excess skin in the abdominal region and tightens the muscles. The stretch marks below the belly button are discarded along with the excess skin.
“The tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that comes with risk, so typically candidates must be non-smokers in good physical health and certain they will not want more kids after surgery. It’s is the only option for complete and permanent stretch mark removal. Recovery time can be up to 6 weeks and again it is critical that one chooses a reputable doctor. A botched tummy tuck can lead to off-centered belly buttons, long thick scars, and dangerous infections,” warns Dr. Brandow.
There are preventative measures one can take. Be very wary of anything that seems too good to be true and always consult with a credentialed doctor when considering any kind of cosmetic procedure.
Here's the thing: How YOU feel about your stretch marks is what matters. If you love them, embrace them, wear them proudly... 'atta girl! And if you don't, there are things you can do to eradicate them. As women, we've earned our stripes; whether or not you choose to wear yours proudly, or work hard to prevent and correct them, is 100% up to you.
Do you have stretch marks? How do you feel about them? Have a secret to prevent or correct stretch marks? Do tell! Join the convo either in the comments below or on Facebook.
Featured expert: Dr. Kirk Brandow, founder and director of Brandow Clinic for Cosmetic Surgery is a plastic surgeon with two locations in the Philadelphia metro area and a third one on Jersey Shore. Named a “Top Doc” in Plastic Surgery by Philadelphia Magazine as well as nationally recognized for one of America’s “Best Plastic Surgeons” of this decade, Dr. Brandow is a trusted expert who has developed many innovative, minimally invasive procedures for the face, body and skin. He has been featured on local, national and international television programs including 20/20, CNN’s Headline News and Good Morning America.