Men and women can get stretch marks on several areas of their bodies, including the abdomen, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms, and lower back. The marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. When constantly stretched, the dermis can break down, leaving stretch marks behind.
Stretch marks are a form of scarring that happens when skin doesn't bounce back after it's been stretched by pregnancy, weight gain, or extreme weight loss. Stretch marks often start off looking reddish or purplish and then become glossy, making the skin appear to be streaked in silver or white.
Treatment for Stretch Marks
There are several treatment options for stretch marks, although none of them are very effective. The degree of success with any treatment will depend on your age, your skin tone, and even your diet. Treatment options for stretch marks include:
- Surgical methods. Dermabrasion, chemical peels, or laser surgery can be used.
- Lotions and creams. Over-the-counter stretch mark treatments are available but are usually of little benefit. If you are pregnant, discuss your concern with your doctor at the beginning of your pregnancy, before stretch marks develop. That way you and your doctor can consider preventive strategies.
For treating stretch marks, it's best to be in the care of a surgeon or dermatologist. He or she can determine which treatment approach is best for you.
You should know that health insurance isn't likely to cover stretch mark treatment because it is a cosmetic procedure, even if the stretch marks are severe. Talk to your health insurance company if you have questions about your coverage.