When skin expands rapidly (due to growth, pregnancy, or weight gain) the abrupt changes can cause elastin and collagen to rupture. As the ruptures heal, underlying blood vessels show through, leaving behind the telltale red or purplish marks called “stretch marks.” While the marks will fade to a white or silver color as blood vessels heal, they do not usually fully disappear. However, there is some evidence showing that a cream containing 0.1 percent tretinoin (retinoic acid) may help diminish early stretch marks. Tretinoin can penetrate the upper layer of skin and rebuild collagen, which explains how it improves stretch marks for some individuals. Laser treatments may also improve the appearance of stretch marks and increase collagen production over time.
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