To some people, stretch marks are a kind of badge of honor, one more thing to love and appreciate about the walking miracle of the human body. To others, they can be a source of self-consciousness or even shame.
If you fall into the latter category, you may be wondering how long it will take for your stretch marks to go away. The bad news is that they most likely won’t—not entirely, anyway. There’s also good news. Stretch marks can fade with time, especially if you’re taking care of the skin where they’re present.
It ordinarily takes somewhere between six months and a year for stretch marks to diminish. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do—or avoid doing—to help the healing process along and possibly make your stretch marks less noticeable.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Causes Stretch Marks?
- 2 Are Stretch Marks Permanent?
- 3 How Long Does it Take for Stretch Marks to Fade?
- 4 Stretch Mark Treatments
- 5 Things to Avoid
- 6 FAQ - How Long Stretch Marks Fade
- 7 Conclusion: How Long Stretch Marks Fade
What Causes Stretch Marks?
- Weight gain
- Medical issues
- Pharmaceutical side effects
- Putting on large amounts of muscle mass too quickly
Are Stretch Marks Permanent?
More often than not, yes.
Once your stretch marks have developed beyond a certain point, they’ll never go away completely, just like scars from past accidents tend to stick around for many years after the injuries that caused them.
That said, the body is capable of some pretty amazing things, and no two sets of skin are exactly alike. In cases where stretch marks are relatively minor, they can shrink and become less visually pronounced as the skin continues to repair itself.
How Long Does it Take for Stretch Marks to Fade?
Most doctors and dermatologists tell their patients that mild stretch marks can begin to blend in with the surrounding section of skin after about 6-12 months.
They say it takes about this long for the body to break down the worst of the scar tissue and start producing new collagen fibers in the affected area. Collagen is a solid yet pliable protein that gives skin its unique supple texture.
However, several factors can put an asterisk next to this 6-12-month timeframe, including the severity of your stretch marks, the overall condition of your skin, and your individual healing capabilities. Not all stretch marks are guaranteed to improve in a matter of months. Some people might not ever see an improvement in their condition.
Before you despair, you may be interested in learning that there’s evidence to suggest that certain types of treatments can positively impact the appearance of stretch marks.
Stretch Mark Treatments
If you’re determined to reduce the appearance of your stretch marks, we have a few options to tell you about.
Dermatologists have several different methods for dealing with stretch marks. The three most common are laser therapy, microneedling, and microdermabrasion.
- Laser Therapy – During a laser therapy session, doctors use potent lasers to reshape the uppermost section of skin, effectively camouflaging stretch marks.
- Microneedling – Microneedling involves either a sterilized dermaroller or a dermapen device to create microchannels in the skin. This controlled injury stimulates your body to produce collagen and elastin, thereby promoting skin renewal and regeneration. Though this form of treatment is still in its infancy, it has produced impressive results in clinical studies.
- Microdermabrasion – Another promising (and low-cost) procedure, microdermabrasion is effective for stretch marks. Itexfoliates the skin on a level deep enough to diminish the contrast between stretch marks and neighboring healthy tissue.
Keep in mind that while these sorts of procedures can make your stretch marks less pronounced, even they won’t erase them altogether.
Retinoid Skin Creams
Retinoids are vitamin-like compounds that encourage the production of new collagen cells. They’re most often applied topically in the form of medicinal creams. Such creams are readily available at drug stores and supermarkets.
Oral Collagen Supplements
Collagen is one of the primary building blocks of healthy skin. Taking a collagen supplement may therefore shore up your natural reserves and encourage stretch marks to fade faster.
While not a proven remedy for stretch marks, coconut oil is excellent for restoring vital moisture, strength, and elasticity to the skin. It also has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties that may enhance healing.
Things to Avoid
If the treatments mentioned above help soothe your skin and make your stretch marks less prominent, the actions and circumstances listed below will have the opposite effect.
Subsequent pregnancies, drastic weight gain (be it muscle or fat), and local trauma can all create new stretch marks or worsen the appearance of old ones.
Since scar tissue doesn’t darken when exposed to UV light, tanning can turn up the contrast between healthy skin and stretch marks. Get in the habit of covering up or coating sensitive areas with sunscreen when you know you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period.
Dubious Natural Remedies
Some of the solutions that homeopaths swear by, like sugar scrubs and aloe vera poultices, are basically harmless and can be employed without fear. However, others, such as chemical peels and undiluted essential oils, could just add irritation to your list of concerns.
FAQ - How Long Stretch Marks Fade
The following section will address some of the most commonly asked questions about stretch marks and their stigma.
Are Stretch Marks Bad?
Not at all. Stretch marks aren’t painful, nor are they a sign of poor skin health. 50-90% of women and many men have them and still lead perfectly normal, fulfilling lives.
Some people want to get rid of their stretch marks because they don’t like the way it makes their skin look. If you’re not bothered by your stretch marks, there’s no need to do anything about them.
Do Stretch Marks Go Away on Their Own?
In some cases, faint stretch marks may all but disappear once the condition that caused them (pregnancy, weight gain, etc.) is no longer present. More severe scarring, on the other hand, is often permanent.
How Can I Treat Stretch Marks at Home?
The simplest way to minimize the appearance of stretch marks is to stay hydrated, get plenty of restful sleep, and stick to a well-balanced diet consisting primarily of whole foods.
We recommend giving topical retinoid creams, hyaluronic acid, or nourishing oils a shot if you want to do a little more. You might also try supplementing with vitamin A, oral collagen, or other substances that have been scientifically demonstrated to benefit the skin.
Conclusion: How Long Stretch Marks Fade
Your stretch marks may be with you for life, but that doesn’t mean they have to become a defining feature.
With time, stretch marks can fade and become far less conspicuous. By taking care of your skin and choosing treatments that give your natural healing faculties a boost, you may be able to make them practically invisible.
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