For many women, stretch marks are part of life, whether they appear during puberty, pregnancy, or on a weight-loss journey. So it’s no wonder there are so many women out there searching for ways to get rid of them. But is the idea of going under the knife to nix stretch marks really an option?

Let’s start by understanding what stretch marks are:

“When the outer layers of the skin weaken, the skin literally stretches in linearly or patchy arrangements. The stretched skin is thinner and more translucent so the color, texture and integrity of the skin appears different than the surrounding normal skin,” says David Shafer, MD, FACS, board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City.

In other words, stretch marks are permanent scars under the skin, explains Manish Shah, MD, FACS, board-certified plastic surgeon in Denver, Colorado. And because of that fact, the idea of a stretch mark ‘removal’ surgery really doesn’t exist. There are, however, multiple procedures that help minimize their appearance.

“The purpose of stretch mark treatments are to get the color to fade into the background and to grow collagen in the dermal injury to fill it back up to reduce the appearance of the stretch mark,” says Dr. Shah.

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