What the Yuck: Make my stretch marks go away
March 11th, 2011
02:20 PM ET

What the Yuck: Make my stretch marks go away

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: I have hideous stretch marks. Can you make them go away?

If I could, I'd be a rich woman. Almost 90 percent of us have stretch marks. Despite claims made on late-night infomercials, no cure-all lotion or cream will reliably erase those marks, which appear when skin stretched by the rapid growth of pregnancy (or major weight gain or loss) doesn't snap back.

The marks start out red or purple, and fade to white over time. Your best bet for diminishing them is seeing a board-certified dermatologist for micro-dermabrasion or a chemical peel, procedures that slowly remove layers of the scarred skin tissue. Most derms suggest six treatments on any spot that needs work, which can cost $75 to $600 a session, depending on the treatment.

Hoping to prevent stretch marks? There's a limit to how much you can do, and some of it comes down to genetics. Plus, you can't help but stretch in pregnancy. Staying hydrated and exercising regularly improves circulation to your skin to maintain elasticity.

As for all the belly rubs marketed to pregnant women for stretch mark prevention? Some women swear by them, but there's not yet scientific evidence to show they work. Lotions that contain cocoa or shea butter, olive oil, and vitamin E help your skin retain moisture, which may relieve the itching that accompanies dry skin and stretch marks.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.