Strech Mark Therapy

6 Simple ways to treat old stretch marks

5 min read

Over the years, your body accumulates marks from important periods in your life. Your stretch marks can be a testimony of sudden weight gain and loss, growth spurts, pregnancies, or muscle gain. As the months or years have passed, your stretch marks may have faded a bit, but they are still there, and while you may have given up on the idea of reducing them, it is still possible.

  • Stretch marks can change over time
  • While care works better the sooner it is started, you can still improve the appearance of older stretch marks
  • There are a variety of treatments available from creams to medical procedures.

In this article:

  • How do stretch marks evolve over time?
  • How can you help fade old stretch marks?

How do stretch marks evolve over time?

Depending on your skin type and color, new stretch marks are often red or pink lines called Striae rubrae. In some darker skinned people fresh stretch marks might appear darker than the surrounding skin (Striae Nigrae).[1]

Most of the time, they are flat or slightly raised, and are the consequences of sudden stretching of the skin. As the months or years pass, they gradually turn into faded, whitish lines, often with a wrinkly aspect, called Striae Albae.[2]

Striae rubrae
Straie alba

How can you help fade old stretch marks?

With stretch marks and scars in general, the rule of thumb is “sooner is better”, meaning that results will always be better when treatment is started early after the appearance of the marks. In general, results will not be as impressive on older stretch marks compared to new ones, but the good news is that, with a bit of work, they can be visibly reduced, and here is how:

  • Topical treatments:
    Topical over-the-counter products are often considered in first line of attack as these are the simple, non-invasive and mostly inexpensive methods. Although product compositions vary, they are generally very moisturizing creams, sometimes formulated with special ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.

Other treatments are rarely necessary, but if topical treatments fail to deliver the results you seek, you can discuss other, more invasive options with your dermatologist, including:

  • Chemical Peels
    Application of glycolic acid generates a peeling of the superficial layer of the skin, forcing it to regenerate. A recent study showed that it decreases stretch mark width and improves color by increasing melanin.[3] A time interval of at least 2 weeks should be respected between each peel, as it is aggressive for the skin. Several peels are needed to obtain satisfying results.[4] Home-use chemical peels can be found, but better results can be obtained by a dermatologist as your doctor will be able to adapt chemical concentrations to your skin type. This treatment can also increase the effect of topical creams.
  • Microdermabrasion
    Microdermabrasion is a mechanical peeling technique. Aluminum oxide/sodium chloride crystals are propelled onto the skin surface at a programmable pressure, and immediately vacuumed back up along with skin debris. By removing the superficial layer of the skin, it stimulates skin regeneration and collagen production. At least 5 weekly sessions are needed before seeing any significant results.[5]
  • Fractional microneedling radiofrequency (FMR)
    While penetrating into the skin, microneedles apply radiofrequency energy, inducing collagen and elastin production. After at least 4 monthly sessions, stretch mark width has been shown to be reduced.[6]
  • Laser
    By heating the skin, laser beams stimulate collagen and elastin production.[7] This results in improved elasticity, structure and color of the skin. Several sessions are generally needed to obtain good results, and the treatment must be supervised by a dermatologist. One of the limitations of laser treatment is that it is not suitable for dark skin types.
  • Cosmetic surgery
    As a last resort, and when the methods above did not work, surgery can be considered as an option. It involves excising the skin containing the stretch marks and is only performed when there is excess skin (after weight loss, for example). It is a heavy and expensive surgery which requires post-operative care and a few weeks of down-time.



Ideally, if you want to care for older stretch marks the place to start is with topical creams. But if that doesn’t have the desired impact, Chemical Peeling, Microdermabrasion, FMR and Laser are options. These are aggressive for the skin, so it is important to apply a good skin barrier to improve skin comfort and facilitate healing process. Mederma® Stretch Marks Therapy and Quick Dry Oil can help to hydrate, by locking in moisture and supporting cell renewal.


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