By Erin Lukas
Updated Feb 09, 2017 @ 5:30 pm
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Real talk: There’s nothing abnormal about stretch marks. In fact, studies estimate that 90 percent of pregnant women, 70 percent of adolescent girls, and 40 percent of adolescent men develop the streaks of broken elastin that are characterized by puckered grooves in the skin.

Although marks are common, it can be hard for a lot of us to embrace them if they’re particularly prominent or discolored—especially during warm weather when showing more skin is in. And while there’s a whole slew of topical creams and oils that promise to get rid of stripes, in reality they can only improve their appearance. “A stretch mark is like an acne scar. Since it’s a type of scar, the depth to where the damage of the skin is, is far below where any topical can reach,” explains N.Y.C.-based cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank. “So, sadly there’s nothing that can really be done topically despite what these products claim.”

Before getting too worked up over the fact that the products you’ve been slathering on aren’t really doing anything, there are in-office methods of treatment that vastly minimize marks and can even make them disappear for good. If you’re going to turn to a dermatologist to help you with your stretch marks, Dr. Frank stresses the importance of making an appointment early to get the best results. “Your expectations should be high if you catch them early. If you have stretch marks that are 20-years-old, they should be lower,” he says. “With every year that goes by, you can expect your results to be less. If you catch your stretch marks in the red stage, you have a 90 percent chance of controlling them.”

For newer marks, which are those that are red, raised and inflamed, Dr. Frank recommends vascular laser treatment. “This laser destroys the blood vessels causing the inflammation to the blood cells,” he explains. Aside from some bruising on the area that’s treated, there’s no downtime afterwards and you can expect to see improvement in 3-5 sessions.

On older marks, which are characterized by potted, silver stripes, Dr. Frank says that Fraxel laser resurfacing can aid in vastly diminishing them. Expect to experience a few days of redness following the skin-renewing treatment, and to see stretch marks reduced from 40 to 70 percent in 3-5 sessions.

While lasers work best on fairer skin tones, Dr. Frank says that microneedling is an option for deeper complexions. “Deeper skin tones aren’t as prone to stretch marks because they generally have more elasticity,” he explains. “But, microneedling can be a solution if you do have marks. Like lasers, you’re using physical trauma to through the tissue to stimulate new collagen and tissue regeneration. It’s about getting the body to fix itself.” And just like lasers, this method can be done in monthly intervals, with a bit of redness following. These 8 Body Balms will Winter-Proof Your Skin

Image zoom Kopari Coconut Balm

If you're like us, your love affair with coconut oil shows no signs of waning.The beauty wunderkind is the powerhouse ingredient in this balm along with a few other helpful moisturizers like shea concentrate, beeswax, aloe vera, and cocoa seed butter. Courtesy

Image zoom Make Beauty Marine Salve

This skin quencher truly does it all. Along with repairing your cracked lips, hands, and face, this mix of oils, butters, and algae also protects skin against pollution, heavy metals, and free radicals. Courtesy

Image zoom Pai Skincare Head To Toe Hero Buriti Balm

Crafted from all-natural oils and plant-based ingredients, this gentle salve is a pro at calming aggravated skin. Courtesy

Image zoom Province Apothecary Hydrating Rescue Balm

Warm this thick balm up in your hands and massage it on flaky spots to let it work its magic. This all-natural option owes its hydrating powress to a blend of calendula flowers, rosehip oil, sea buckthorn oil, and vitamin E. Courtesy

Image zoom Kiehl's Centella Recovery Skin Salve

We love that Kiehl's balm goes easy on the most tempermental of complexions, but still gets the job of hydrating parched skin done. Courtesy

Image zoom Clary Collection Clary Balm

Proof that good things come in small packages: A tin of a small batch skin-saver loaded with lavender, calendula, chamomile, and olive oil. Stash these chic compact pots in your pocket or purse to sooth your sad winter skin on the go. Courtesy

Image zoom Pommade Divine Nature's Remedy Balm

The name says it all: This jojoba seed-enriched formula makes irritated skin feel divine from head-to-toe. Courtesy

Image zoom Aesop Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm

Think of Aesop's tube as the post-shower equivalent of after-dinner dessert. Skin-smoothing benefits aside, its sandalwood, vanilla, and tangerine cocktail will turn your skincare routine into an aromatic experience. Courtesy 1 of 8 Advertisement