Q: What can I do about stretch marks?

A. There are several treatment options for stretch marks. If you are serious about dealing with unwanted stretch marks, it is best to be in the care of a surgeon or dermatologist who can recommend your best options. If you go to a surgeon or dermatologist, he or she will take a detailed medical history, including medications you are taking. Some medications can cause stretch marks, and it is very important to be open and honest with your doctor. Those medications include hormones and steroids.

It is important to remember that you have to stick with a treatment plan in order to get the desired effect.

Q: What causes stretch marks, and how can I get rid of the ones on my hips and thighs?

A. Stretch marks commonly appear due to pregnancy, excessive weight gain and weight lifting. They occur when the skin is stretched and thinned, causing the elastic fibers to break. Many people use cosmetic creams, with ingredients such as alpha hydroxy (acids), to lessen the appearance of their stretch marks. These creams may be able to temporarily plump up the skin’s surface, but unfortunately are not scientifically proven to permanently remove the stretch marks.

Dermatologic surgeons can now use lasers to remove or improve stretch marks. The heat from the laser light triggers new elastin production in the deeper layers where the stretch marks are formed. As a result, your skin will have a tighter and smoother appearance. Newly formed red stretch marks may be successfully removed with a single treatment, whereas older and deeper stretch marks may require several treatments. The procedure is quick, causes minimal discomfort, leaves no scars and is relatively inexpensive. To schedule an evaluation with a dermatologic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, call the Department of Dermatology at 216.444.5724 or 800.223.2273, ext. 45724.