Learn what you can do to minimize the unsightly marks that women commonly get during pregnancy.
-Some call them a badge of honor. Others say they're an unsightly side effect. Call them what you will. Most women get stretch marks while pregnant. -It's very common to get stretch marks during pregnancy. In some cases, it's a genetic tendency. If your mom had stretch marks, or your grandmother, or your sisters, there might be a little more chance for you to get stretch marks. You could also look at puberty, how that was for you. When you develop breasts, when you got a little more curvy around the hip, did you actually develop stretch marks in those areas? That might be a tell-tale sign that you're more apt to develop them when you're pregnant. -There are all kinds of creams and oils out there designed to diminish the appearance of stretch marks. But when it comes to prevention, there is really nothing you can do to keep stretch marks from popping up. -Wouldn't that be nice if we could really do something to prevent them? The truth is, there are a lot of products out there, there are a lot of skin care products, there are moisturizers, there is cocoa butter, there is aloe, there is Vitamin E, there's all kinds of old wives' tales. But the sad truth, as a dermatologist, I can tell you, is there really is not anything we can do to prevent them. -Dr. Deborah Sarnoff says there's no harm in using these creams if it makes you feel good, as long as you don't expect them to keep stretch marks at bay. -I think they make us feel better, and I think that it's-- if it has a nice scent, and it has-- just a nice feel to it, the skin can be softer. But I don't think any woman out there should delude herself into thinking that it's actually going to prevent the stretch mark, 'cause it's not coming from dryness. It's coming from just a stretch of the skin, it's a phenomena that is there. -But while there's nothing you can do to prevent stretch marks, there is plenty you can do once you have them. -After the fact, we do have some nice solutions, especially nowadays. I think the first thing one can do, post-partum, is take a look, assess the damage, and you could try to start using some moisturizers that have alpha hydroxy acids, maybe glycolic acid. You could perhaps get a prescription for Retin-A or Renova from your dermatologist. You wanna make sure, if you're breastfeeding, you wanna wait on that. But if you're not breastfeeding, I think it's perfectly fine to try to intervene with a little topical Vitamin A. You can go to the spa or the doctor's office and have a little bit of microdermabrasion treatments. These might help a little bit. -The most effective treatment is a new breakthrough laser treatment. -Ultimately, we do have lasers that can actually help-- in one case, they can help turn the purple red marks a little lighter, and then once they're silvery-white, we actually have a system nowadays-- which is very exciting-- that is really the first breakthrough to make the silvery-white stretch marks much less apparent. There is a laser system called the Affirm. It's a machine made by Cynosure, and the Affirm Laser has been shown to be very, very useful to treat the stretch mark. We can help make them thinner, we can help make them in length shorter, in width thinner, even in height. If you look in indirect lighting, you'll often notice that there's a little dip in the skin, there's a little-- what we call atrophy. It's not really up to the level. And under the microscope, they resemble scars. So, all of the treatments that we know that work for scars can be useful for stretch marks. -Lisamarie Conte is having the procedure done to reduce the appearance of stretch marks she got as a result of weight gain while pregnant. -When I gained the weight, I did progressively see the stretch marks. They more or less started to really come on towards the end of your pregnancy. They're very itchy and red, you know, after the baby-- about three months later, then they started to subside with the redness. But they do stay. -Lisamarie tried other methods, but nothing else worked to prevent or get rid of her stretch marks. -There really is no other way to get rid of them. There's no creams. They don't work. -Dr. Sarnoff says it takes several treatments to drastically reduce the appearance of stretch marks. -I think that many systems today, usually, it's a not one-shot deal. So, you might need to be treated a series of times-- maybe let's say, half a dozen times, six times, approximately a month apart. And I think you could look forward to nice improvement. I think that it varies around the country, but I would say each individual treatment is probably hundreds, not thousands. But if you go for the full series, it can get up there in price. -But both women say the treatments are virtually painless. -It's the easiest, fastest and-- to be quite honest, it definitely wasn't that painful. -I think it feels a little bit like a rubber band or like a pin-- very tiny, little. And usually, we cool the skin simultaneously while we're treating. So, your mind is a little bit paying attention more to the cooling. And so, I think it's very, very manageable. And if you could have a baby, you could definitely do this. -And after losing all her baby weight, Lisamarie is ready to look her best. -That looked better and I like me to feel better about myself.