Several ways to remove and/or minimize the appearance of stretch marks have been developed.
Tummy tuck surgery: While this requires you to go under the knife, it does have other benefits beyond removing stretch marks, including tighter abs.
Laser surgery: This is one of the most popular ways to remove stretch marks, since it's noninvasive, can be done right in your dermatologist's office, and is much easier to recover from than traditional surgery.
However, laser surgery is not a "done-in-one" solution. You will have to take several treatments over time before your stretch marks are finally faded.
Topical treatments: This includes chemical skin peels performed by a dermatologist, as well as the use of lotions and creams containing cocoa butter, vitamin E, or tretinoin (Retin-A).
These can be effective if the stretch marks are new, but do not work for everyone. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bogus lotions being sold that claim to treat stretch marks, so it's best to talk to your dermatologist and get reliable information before you buy anything.
Stretch marks are easiest to remove when they're still relatively fresh and brightly colored -- pink, red, brown, or purple, depending on your skin tone.
If your stretch marks have turned white, they will be much more difficult to conceal. So if you're planning to have your stretch marks removed, the earlier you can get to it, the better.
Tummy tuck surgery is a major procedure, with all the risks that entails. After getting a tummy tuck, you will have to remain in the hospital for at least 24 hours, and spend at least a week resting and recovering.
It can take up to four weeks to heal completely, depending on your physical condition.
With laser surgery, you can expect the affected area to be red and tender for a few days after the procedure. There may also be some blistering. Some people have negative reactions to laser surgery, including scarring, but this is rare.
A chemical peel will likewise leave your skin red, sensitive, slightly swollen, and flaky for a week or two, depending on the formula used.
Stretch mark removal is a cosmetic procedure and thus not usually covered by insurance. Tummy tuck surgeries average $6,700 but can vary greatly depending on surgeon and geographic location.
Laser surgery costs at least $200 to $1,500 per visit, while a chemical peel is somewhat cheaper at $75 to $600 per treatment.
The cost of topical creams varies wildly, but can be anywhere from $5 to $150 for a six-month supply.