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Can You Get Rid of Stretch Marks Naturally?

Dermatologists and real women share their favorite remedies for preventing and erasing stretch marks
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One of the most-often-searched queries in the beauty world has to be, "how to get rid of stretch marks," followed only by "how to prevent stretch marks." It's also one of the most controversial topics dermatologists face. The controversy comes from the vast difference between medical opinion (it can't really be done) and real-woman experience (such as one who swears applying olive oil three times a day prevented her pregnancy stretch marks).

So, what causes stretch marks, and how can you get rid of stretch marks? Stretch marks can form any time you grow faster than your skin can keep pace, says Dr. Doris Day, clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center and the author of "Forget the Facelift." Since the tears are happening at the dermis or middle layer of the skin, science is hard-pressed to prove that any topical product applied to the top of the skin will penetrate to prevent or heal these tears. And yet, internet forums are full of women professing their love for stretch mark creams, lotions and home remedies that prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

Dermatologists, meanwhile, say other factors may be at play. "Skin is hereditary and some women are simply genetically predisposed to not get stretch marks," Day says. Also, the slower you gain weight, she says, the less likely you are to get stretch marks. "The best way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy is to gain weight consistently," she says. "Don't get too big too fast."

(If you're determined to try a regimen of stretch mark prevention or treatment potions anyway, skip ahead to see the top-rated stretch mark creams now.)

As for how to remove stretch marks, dermatologists say they can reverse newly formed scars using one to three pulsed dye laser treatments in-office over the course of a month. The laser causes a wound in the skin, and when new skin is formed, the stretch marks are diminished. Dr. Day has also found success with a device called Endymed, which can be used on old stretch marks as well as new. It combines micro-needling with radio frequency to stimulate collagen and contract the skin. "It can take a few treatments," she says. "The important thing is to manage your expectations. The stretch marks can be improved but they won't be all gone."

Other options? The best stretch mark creams that claim to reduce their appearance are packed with good-for-your-skin nutrients that may temporarily smooth out the skin.. There are also dozens of Pinterest pages devoted to home remedies that supposedly get rid of stretch marks (though we recommend trying those with skepticism -- and caution). And, know that over time, the appearance of stretch marks, as all scars, will diminish on their own. Until then, you can, like Sports Illustrated model Chrissy Teigen, who posted a photo of herself on Instagram revealing her stretch marks (nicknamed "stretchies"), be okay with what is.

Here, the top-rated stretch mark creams for preventing and getting rid of your "stretchies."

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Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks
The Spoiled Mama's Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks, $34, has a creamy pure cocoa and shea butter base, but its claim to fame is that it's packed full of other plant oils, including organic, cold-pressed rosehip, tamanu and sea buckthorn oils. Tamanu, a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia, is said to promote the formation of new tissue, thereby accelerating wound healing and the growth of healthy skin. Rosehip oil helps fight dry, dehydrated skin and is said to aid in fading scars. Sea buckthorn oil is highly concentrated in essential fatty acids, tocopherols and carotenes, which promotes elasticity, hydration and regeneration in skin.

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Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy
Makers of Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy, $39.99, say the product is "clinically shown to increase the moisture content of the skin, thereby helping to keep skin more elastic and less apt to tear and form stretch marks."

Its fans say it also works to get rid of stretch marks as well as prevent them. It contains a number of botanical extracts, including centella asiatica, or gotu kola. (The wound-healing benefits of gotu kola extract were demonstrated in a study published in the October 2012 issue of the journal "Phytomedicine.")

Proof: The company says their research shows 76 percent of women who used Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy for 12 weeks to reduce the appearance of stretch marks saw results, and said they were satisfied with how much their stretch marks improved.

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TriLASTIN-SR Maximum Strength Stretch Mark Cream
TriLASTIN-SR Maximum Strength Stretch Mark Cream, $79, regularly receives online raves for eliminating the discoloration and furrows of stretch marks. The company claims it has "clinically tested the proven reduction in the appearance of stretch marks in as few as three weeks."

TriLastin says one of the keys to its success is their trademarked Sequenced Diffusion Delivery System, which helps skin absorb active ingredients over an extended period of time.

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Bella B Tummy Honey Stick
For expectant moms who want some sweet pampering in their stretch mark-prevention product there is Bella B Tummy Honey Stick, $9.99. It contains cocoa and shea butter to moisturize and hydrate skin, as well as jojoba oil; and aloe to prevent itching that often accompanies fast-growing skin.

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