Red vs. white stretch marks

Stretch marks are colored lines or streaks that appear on your skin from weight gain or growth. They’re essentially tears on the skin, but aren’t an indication of a health issue.

Stretch marks often begin as red or purple marks, and slowly fade to white or silver over time. The difference in color distinguishes how old the marks are. Though they may never disappear completely, treatment can lighten the color of your marks and shrink them. In other cases, stretch marks fade away on their own.

Newer, red-tinged stretch marks (striae rubra) are easier to treat. They begin red because blood vessels are present under the skin. The presence of functioning blood vessels allows red stretch marks to be more responsive to treatment.

White stretch marks (striae alba) are older and more difficult to treat. Over time, your blood vessels will narrow, making it hard to stimulate collagen production. Treatment results may not be as drastic compared to those of red stretch marks, but there are options available to help them fade more naturally and at a faster pace.

Removing white stretch marks

1. Exfoliate

A simple way to treat white stretch marks is through regular exfoliation. This removes excess dead skin from your body and new skin from your stretch marks.

Exfoliating alongside other treatment methods can also enhance your results. Removing dead skin from your stretch marks allows other skin treatments to penetrate more deeply and work faster.

2. Topical treatments

Topical creams and ointments are more affordable methods for reducing the appearance of white stretch marks. Some creams are available over-the-counter, while others are prescribed by a doctor.

Applied regularly, topical creams can lighten the tone of stretch marks but they may not completely remove them. Before using any topical treatment, discuss your risks with your doctor. Some creams can trigger an allergic reaction or may not be strong enough to treat your condition.

3. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a painless procedure to reduce the appearance of white stretch marks. This procedure targets the upper layer of skin (epidermis), and works by stimulating the skin to tighten collagen and elastin fibers.

In the procedure, tiny exfoliating crystals are sprayed onto the affected area or a special tipped wand is rubbed over the area. Using a wand-like device, the crystals are gently removed, taking with them dead skin from the epidermis layer. For effective results, microdermabrasion needs to be repeated over a period of time.

After the procedure, your skin may feel tight and dry. There may be some redness from the exfoliation. It typically takes 24 hours for your skin to heal. Though effective, this procedure isn’t guaranteed to fully remove stretch marks. The severity of your stretch marks will influence your results.

4. Microneedling

Microneedling targets the dermis, the middle layer of your skin where stretch marks form. Within this procedure, tiny needles are poked into your skin to trigger collagen production. Increased collagen and elastin promotes skin regeneration that can improve your skin’s appearance and reduce stretch marks.

To effectively treat stretch marks, you’ll need to participate in more than one treatment over a course of months. Microneedling has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing stretch marks, specifically for patients with darker skin.

5. Laser therapy

Laser therapy is a common treatment option to remove white stretch marks. In the procedure, lasers penetrate the skin, triggering regeneration. This stimulates the tissues around your stretch marks to heal at a faster rate.

Laser therapy stimulates melanin production on the affected area, activating pigment cells in your skin. This causes your stretch marks to blend in with your normal skin tone. Though effective, laser therapy requires more than one session to notice results.

There are a number of different laser therapies used to treat stretch marks and other skin issues. Discuss your options with your dermatologist.

6. Cosmetic surgery

If other treatments are unsuccessful, cosmetic surgery is an option. This expensive, yet effective, option can permanently remove white stretch marks from your body. However, it’s important to understand that surgery can leave scars of its own.

A tummy tuck, medically known as an abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure that not only removes stretch marks, but also removes excess skin and fat from your abdomen. This procedure gives the skin and abdomen a flatter and firmer look. However, a surgical procedure comes with a number of health risks. Before pursuing this treatment, discuss your options with your doctor.


Stretch marks are a very common skin issue. White stretch marks are older skin scars that are more difficult to treat than newer stretch marks. However, there are options available to reduce the appearance of your scars if you so choose.

Prior to pursuing treatment, understand there’s a possibility your stretch marks may not disappear completely. If you have questions or concerns about treatment or potential side effects, schedule a visit with a dermatologist.