I will never forget the first time I spotted a stretch mark on my body. I was about 13 years old. My older sister and I were taking a dip in the pool, and she noticed them. “Oh, so you have stretch marks, too,” she said as she pointed to the top of my chest. I asked her what they were and what it meant, and she explained that it was a result of my skin stretching to fit my growing body. She also told me not to stress about it because all of my sisters had them (there are 5 of us), so we could blame genetics.

From that moment forward that I became self-conscious about this apparent “flaw,” in my physique, which I finally embraced during my college years. I love my body, and that means, the stretch marks that come with them.

According to a recent study nearly 90 percent of women have had an encounter with stretch marks. Genetics play a role as doctors say that if your mother had them, it’s likely that you will too, but there more prevalent causes such as rapid weight gain and rapid weight loss that also lead to them. The most common time they appear is during pregnancy and those adolescent teen years when growth spurts occur. Some women find them unsightly, while others look at them as endearing symbols of the baby they carried or the way their body filled out a bit as they entered into womanhood.

If you still want to banish your stretch marks, here are some ways to combat them:

1. Look for products with key ingredients.

Not every item on store shelves can really get the job done when it comes to removing stretch marks, but there are some good old fashioned ingredients that can help diminish the appearance of stretch marks. Wheat germ oil is known as a home remedy that lightens the appearance of stretch marks if used in the early stages. Vitamins A C & E should be your best friend because they all increase skin’s elasticity and moisturize skin to lock in much-needed moisture. Vitamin C helps increase collagen production, and when mixed with glycolic acid can yield great results.

2. Treat them as soon as you spot them

The best time to take action against stretch marks is the first time you notice them. The sooner they’re treated, the more likely they are to respond to treatment.

3. Be patient

While you want to get rid of your stretch marks in time for next week’s vacation, getaway, it’s important set realistic goals. Depending on the severity and age of your stretch marks progress could take months or even up to a year before you really see change. I’ve heard many women, who have successfully treated their stretch marks say that their #1 advice is to remain patient, and to consistently treat them for the best results.

4. Go see a doctor

If you just can’t stand the sight of stretch marks on your body, then you might want to visit your dermatologist to see if there are any medical treatments you can try. Laser therapy is a is a very popular option that many women turn to post-pregnancy to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and heal skin. Microdermabrasion is a procedure where the top-most layer of skin is removed by chemical or mechanical means. Endermologie is a machine that massages skin to increase circulation and expel toxins. See your dermatologist for the latest information on these methods.

How do you deal with stretch marks, Clutchettes?

-Margaret Francois

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