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NHS Choices - Treating stretch marks

There is no specific medical treatment for stretch marks. In most cases, there is no need to see your GP about them. Most stretch marks are not particularly noticeable and fade over time.

If you have several stretch marks that affect a large part of your body, or if you are worried that they look unsightly, there may be treatments available.

However, there is little or no medical evidence to show that these treatments will work, so it is important to be realistic about what they can achieve.

Creams, gels and lotions

Many creams, gels and lotions claim to be able to remove stretch marks. These products are essentially moisturisers for your skin and are available from pharmacies, supermarkets and health and beauty shops.

It is better to apply creams, gels and lotions to the stretch marks when they are at an early stage (striae rubra) and still purple. However, it is very doubtful that oils or creams can help prevent stretch marks.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy cannot remove stretch marks altogether, but it may help them to fade and appear less obvious.

Several different types of laser therapy may be used to treat stretch marks, such as pulsed dye laser treatment. This type of laser therapy works on early stretch marks (that are still red) by sealing the blood vessels within your skin and speeding up the fading process.

Laser therapy for stretch marks is usually very expensive and it is not available on the NHS. It is likely that you will need many treatments to obtain visible results, but the exact number will depend on your skin colour and type.

Cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery for stretch marks is very expensive and is rarely recommended.

If you have stretch marks on your abdomen (tummy) as well as a large amount of loose skin, it may be possible to have an operation called an abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck. An abdominoplasty removes the excess skin and fat around your abdomen, as well as removing the stretch marks below your belly button at the same time.

As this type of surgery is a cosmetic procedure (used to improve your appearance), it is not available on the NHS. Cosmetic surgery also carries a number of risks and can cause considerable scarring.

See the Health A-Z topic about Cosmetic surgery for more information.

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Related Information

Introduction - Find everything you need to know about Stretch Marks including causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, with links to other useful resources.... more

Symptoms of stretch marks - Stretch marks first appear as red streaks or lines on the surface of your skin that are slightly raised to the touch. Depending on the colour of your skin they... more

Causes of stretch marks - Stretch marks appear when your skin is stretched suddenly. They occur in the strong middle layer of your skin (the dermis), which supports your skin's outer... more

Diagnosing stretch marks - Stretch marks are not harmful and there is usually no need to see your GP about them.However, if you feel that your stretch marks are unsightly and they are... more

Treating stretch marks - There is no specific medical treatment for stretch marks and in most cases there is no need to see your GP about them. Most stretch marks fade over time and... more

Preventing stretch marks - Stretch marks are very common and they cannot be prevented altogether. However, the following advice may help you to reduce your risk of developing stretch... more

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