If you have stretch marks, more than likely you’ve thought about how to get rid of them. Advertisers capitalize on this with new oils and bloggers capitalize on this with new home concoctions, but what would your dermatologist tell you to do? What really works?

What Are Stretch Marks?

To understand treatment options, you first have to understand stretch marks. Stretch marks are scars that occur when the skin stretches as people grow, maybe in a growth-spurt or during pregnancy. When stretched past a certain point, the skin literally tears and creates a scar. Stretch marks often occur around the hips. Some ladies will find them on their arms or the insides of their thighs. Even young boys may get stretch marks on their backs as they grow taller. Regardless of who gets them or where they are, just like other scars, stretch marks won’t go away easily.

Related: Stretch Mark Products Not Working? Get the Results You Want With Icon Laser Treatment

Preventing Stretch Marks

Because the skin scars with stretch marks, prevention is key. In order to prevent stretch marks from ever occurring, moisturize your skin. A moisturizer like the CeraVe Cream makes the skin pliable. The more skin retains moisture, the more elastic it becomes.  When it can stretch a little bit, it’s less likely to tear. Diligence in moisturizing can make a difference in how your skin looks long-term.

Once you have a stretch mark, you will always have a change to the skin in that area. Stretch marks can improve in time, but your skin will never look like it did originally because it has been damaged. Early on, you’ll notice red marks, which then turn a purple color. With time and treatment, they will fade, but the skin can’t return to the way it was.

Treatment Options

Only one treatment noticeably improves the appearance stretch marks. Laser treatments, the most effective option, help significantly reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Your dermatologist can perform these cosmetic treatments and lessen the noticeability of your scars.

Approved by the FDA, laser treatment still won’t erase stretch marks, but it can make them much better. Moisturizing is the other option for treatment. You won’t notice drastic changes, but by keeping the area hydrated, the scars can fade over time.