How can I get rid of stretch marks?

Ruth boraggina

One of the things I hate the most about my body are my stretch marks. I have a lot around the sides of my bum from when I had my growth spurt in puberty. Every summer I’m paranoid about going to the beach in a bikini (yay swimming skirts!). So what can you do?


Although it’s not clear how exactly skin gets stretch marks, they generally appear during periods of growth, such as during puberty, pregnancy, sudden weight gain or steroid therapy. About 90% of pregnant women get stretch marks! They can shrink and fade after the weight is lost, but don’t go away completely. Several conditions can also lead to stretch marks, incuding anorexia, tuberculosis and Cushing’s disease.

Whether or not you’re prone to stretch marks is often determined by genetics. The most common places for them to appear are on the thighs, upper arms, butt and boobs.

Developing stretch marks

A new stretch mark usually looks pink, and sometimes can be itchy and slightly raised (“striae rubra”). They then usually turn darker and grow longer. After some time, they turn white, flat and look sunken into the skin, and appear a bit like a scar (“striae alba”). Stretch marked areas tend to have less collagen, fibronectin, fibrillin and elastin, all of which are important skin components.

Treatment options

Successfully treating stretch marks is challenging, and there’s no cure discovered yet that works for everyone, so whoever invents one is going to get very rich!

Generally, stretch marks are easiest to get rid of when they’re fresh and still pink – they’re hard to treat when they’re white. Bad news for me!

Tretinoin (vitamin A) cream rubbed into fresh stretch marks is one of the most reliable treatments. It seems to work by stimulating skin growth. However, it does next to nothing on old stretch marks.

Trofolastin cream (active ingredient: centella asiatica) also seems to stimulate skin growth.

There is some evidence that glycolic acid, an AHA, may stimulate collagen production and improve the appearance of old stretch marks.

Monthly dilute (15-20%) trichloroacetic acid peels has been found to improve the texture and colour of stretch marks in one study.

More research is needed, but some initial studies have shown that cosmetic treatments such as microdermabrasion, RF, IPL and laser treatments (especially fractional photothermolysis using Fraxel lasers) could be effective in treating striae.


Since stretch marks are so hard to get rid of, prevention is definitely better than cure! Stretch marks result from trauma deep down in the skin, so topical treatments aren’t likely to penetrate deep enough to quell them completely.

Although common sense would tell us that keeping skin well-moisturised will prevent tearing, not enough studies have been done to convincingly confirm or deny this. Oil and cream massages are often recommended for preventing stretch marks, but it’s not clear whether it’s the physical massage that helps, or the moisturising action of the oils, or both, or neither. Camellia oil in particular can help boost collagen in the skin.

Hyaluronic acid creams (e.g. Verum, Alphastria) can help prevent stretch marks by increasing skin strength.


The easiest way to deal with stretch marks seems to be to hide them!

Fake tan is a double-edged sword – the right one can do wonders, but the wrong one can show them up more since stretch marks are different in texture to undamaged skin! Sun tanning makes them more obvious, since the scar tissue doesn’t brown. Concealer is also useful for temporary cover.

Keeping your skin moisturised and toned (with dreaded exercise!) can smooth out the skin and make the affected areas less lumpy and obvious.

Most.importantly, we need to learn to embrace them! Most women (and many men) have stretch marks, including famous beauties such as Scarlett Johanssen, Kate Beckinsale and Angelina Jolie. 

Are you self-conscious about your stretch marks? Or are you genetically blessed and have none? What stretch mark disguises work for you?


S Kang, K J Kim, C E M Griffiths, T-Y Wong, H S Talwar, G J Fisher, D Gordon, T A Hamilton, C N Ellis and J J Voorhees. Topical tretinoin (retinoic acid) improves early stretch marks. Arch Dermatol 1996, 132, 519.

M L Elsaie, L S Baumann and L T Elsaaiee. Striae distensae (stretch marks) and different modalities of therapy: An update. Dermatol Surg 2009, 35, 563.

G Young and D Jewell. Creams for preventing stretch marks in pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1996, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000066. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000066.

E Junga, J Leea, J Baekb, K Junga, J Leea, S Huha, S Kima, J Kohb and D Park. Effect of Camellia japonica oil on human type I procollagen production and skin barrier function. J Ethnopharmacol 2007, 112, 127.


  1. says

    This is really informative! I have struggled with stretch marks for years. Personally I use tanning as my cover up. I find they stand out more at first, but as I get darker they fade away.. I also find that tanning lotion firms my skin better than any moisturizer, so that may have something to do with it too.

    • says

      I’m a bit scared of tanning because of the sun damage :( I’ve never managed to tan past the “glowing stretch marks” stage, but I might look into tanning lotion!

  2. says

    oooh amazing post! i never had a stretch mark in my life until i was 18 and went away to college, i gained a lot of weight and got them on my thighs. i lost all the weight (and more!) but i still have those dumb lines. i will be looking into these ways to him get rid of them!

  3. says

    ok you will laugh but I do have stretch marks just on one cheek of my butt!! how do you explain that?? LOL doesn’t really bother me but I do think it’s funny!! like half of my ass was bigger than the other =)))

  4. says

    I have stretch marks and I have quite naturally tanned skin so they show up! I also have more noticeable ones on one side than the other, just on my outer bum area and it SUCKS! I’ve tried heaps of stuff like Bio oil and specifically targeted stretch mark creams but nothing really works. . .I do the “dry brushing” on that area before a shower as it apparently helps circulation and promotes healing or growth (maybe!?) But i’ve also heard the brand De La Mer is really good but for $300 for a small pot. I can’t find the justice in spending that much withouth guaranteed success! Good post michelle :)

    • says

      Yeah, unfortunately most stretch mark creams just moisturise to make the area less obviously bumpy :( I honestly think that whoever can invent a stretch mark cream that actually works on old stretch marks will make a bloody FORTUNE – I mean, it’s a problem that at least a quarter of the population has!

  5. says

    I have them on my boobs from being pregnant! Luckily they do fade heaps in time. They really used to bother me but not so much now that they are not as visible :)

    • says

      Glad to hear that they fade, stretch marks and wrinkly tummies and all that are some of my biggest concerns about pregnancy! On the bright side, your boobs are one of the easiest areas to hide, or at least only show in dim, flattering light :)

  6. says

    Great post! I hate my stretch marks… I have them on my chest when I suddenly became a D cup. I hate how they resist tanning in the summer and it looks like I’ve got white stripes…

    I also love the fact that you cited your references properly! You’re such a proper PhD student :)

  7. Anonymous says

    yea im pretty thin but i feel uncomfortable wearing bikini bottoms…my poor little bum is just not right…i have thin pink stripes and i got these when i literally grew 3 1/2 inches in a year!!!thanks for the info,lovely ladies.

  8. Anonymous says

    Im 27 weeks pregnant & in one week i literally got loaded with stretch marks on my butt!! I have a couple of them on my waist line but not in the middle of my stomach. I used coco butter & im guessing that wasn’t much help i actually broke out. My body has been reacting different to lotions ever since ive because pregnant. I wish there was a cure to get rid of stretch marks lol looks like i wont be wearing bikini’s anymore!

  9. Anonymous says

    It’s mentioned that stretch marks begin as pink-colored. I assume this means if you have pale skin. I, however, have dark skin. What do impending stretch marks look like on a dark-skinned person?

  10. says

    Similar to this web page your site is individual of my new faves.I like this website shown in addition to it has given me several sort of inspiration to have success for certain reason, so thanks.

  11. says

    There are a multitude of sunless tanning equipment, products, and merchandise available on multiple web sites. Of these, the best possible and well organized is the airbrush technique. An airbrush technique will aerosol a sun tanning solution throughout your body to produce a gorgeous brown

  12. Anonymous says

    I hate my stretch marks its all over my bum.I have tried all these expenceive tissue oils and creams and nothing works:( going to try the tanning thing if that dosn’t work I guess its off to get lazered

  13. says

    Can you do anything to prevent skin discoloration during pregnancy or after pregnancy ? Skin pigmentation changes usually disappear on their own after delivery . You can remove your fade skin easy way .Use stria fade that contain vitamin E and alpha hydroxy acids .Get instant solution in short time.

  14. says

    Tretinoin, is good for lighten the stretch marks but I want to tell you that it would not work for everyone. Like me, from last 3 months I am using it continuously but not a single small change is happening to my skin. Now I had found an article where some home remedies are shared. Here in this link
    So I want your review, that these shared remedies work for me. Last time when I had acne scars then I had treated them with natural remedies. So I hope this problem will also be solved using natural cures. Is it possible to treat stretch marks using natural cures, I want your valuable comments. Thanks

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