Stretch Marks Creams

Stretch Marks Creams

Best Ingredients: Retinol & retinoids. Tocopherol, Silicone GelAdjunctive Treatments:Fractional lasers, vascular lasers, Tixel
Worse Ingredients: Anything branded natural, lemon juiceTips: Very hard to totally remove, much easier to partially fade. Treat early with vascular lasers

What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks are seen in just about everyone. These marks are a form of dermal scarring and can present with different colour and texture than your normal skin, & they range from purple to bright pink to silvery white. They occur when the dermal layer of the skin is suddenly stretched, as in the case of pregnancy or rapid weight gain. 


Fluctuations in weight results in the skin overstretching and the fibres breaking which ultimately causes stretch marks. When the dermis tears, the blood vessels under the skin show, making the stretch marks appear red or purple. Over time the blood vessels get smaller and the marks turn silvery-white in colour. 



The most common causes of stretch marks include-

  1. Pregnancy
  2. Puberty & growth spurts
  3. Sudden weight gain
  4. Steroids tablets, creams & ointments
  5. Genetics
  6. Health conditions such as Marfan’s, EDS, & Cushing’s Disease
  7. Body Building & muscle development 

Which stretch mark creams work?

The only creams that do anything are vitamin A creams known as retinoids. These creams can increase collagen production in the deeper dermal layers of skin, and thus can marginally improve stretch marks. You can obtain a prescription of tretinoin from your GP; you DO NOT need to see a dermatologist for this simple prescription. 


Topical creams and ointments are more affordable methods for reducing the appearance of white stretch marks. Retinol or retinyl aldehyde are available over the counter, whilst retinoic acid creams are prescribed. Not everyone will benefit from strong retinoic acid topicals as this frequent cause skin irritation. 



Silicone based creams and gels can also be useful in managing stretch marks. Unlike retinol-based solutions, irritation is uncommon with silicone. The most commonly used brand is Stratamark.

What lasers do I use to treat stretch marks?

Early stretch marks or striae rubra do best with lasers. These stretch marks are pink, red, or purple in colour. A combination of vascular laser, retinol & vitamin E can improve the colour & reduce the width of stretch marks. Expect 40-60% improvement after a series of 3-5 laser sessions. Occasionally I combine fractional lasers, microneedling or Tixel with vascular lasers. 



Older stretch marks known as striae alba are much harder to treat. These stretch marks are papery, white & atrophic. The overlying skin has wrinkles, crinkles & looks thin. The aim of treating these stretch marks is to thicken collagen in the dermal layer. Treatments including fractional laser with Fraxel or CO2 can be effective, as well as Tixel. Again I combine retinol or retinoids with these treatments. Expect a 20-50% improvement after a series of sessions. 

*Disclaimer: I do not consult for simple stretch mark treatments; book a consultation with my nurses at Cutis Dermatology or my dermal therapist in Sydney.

Davin’s ProTip on Stretch Marks Creams

Treat stretch marks early & have a treatment plan going into pregnancy. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome. Vascular lasers give the best results, followed by fractional lasers. Most patients will require 2-4 sessions over 4- 8 weeks. Retinol or retinoid creams are adjunctive. 


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