I Have Terrible Stretch Marks

Dear Sugar
I have bad stretch marks. They bother me because they are so apparent, and I am afraid to wear shorts that hit above the knee. Besides expensive surgery, what are ways to improve the appearance of stretch marks. Marked Up Maggie

Dear Marked Up Maggie
You don't have to live with your stretch marks forever. There are many ways to reduce their appearance if not completely remove them. I would start with the simplest solution which is buying an over the counter moisturizer or vitamin E or A creme. They can be effective conditioning the outer skin layer; however, they don't necessarily penetrate to the dermis (the deeper layers of skin) which is where the stretch marks begin. If cremes don't work, try an Alpha Hydroxy Acid creme. This will condition your skin and also act like an exfoliant. At first, you skin will seem flaky, but what's happening is that your outer layer of skin will shed and the healthier layers will emerge with better texture and color. If you stop using AHA's, your skin will return to its old appearance though. Next, you can try a prescription treatment such as: Tretinoin, or Retin-A. These medications thin the outer layer of your skin and removes dead cells while reaching the dermis layer and increasing collagen production. Ask your doctor what dosage to take. The idea behind this is to plump up your skin, (kind of like when you use that lip plumping lip gloss). So you should be cautious that if you take too much, you will have that feeling all over. Laser surgery is still in development for stretch marks. It won't remove them but it will fade their color. This is a costly treatment, but you will have instant gratification after a few sessions. Lastly, there's Endermologie. An endermologie machine uses a suckage technique to increase circulation to the marked area by 200%. You'll have to wear a body stocking during the process and each session lasts for 30 minutes. Several treatment sessions are needed to see results.

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