Stretch marks can occur for a variety of reasons, whether you've gained weight rapidly, are pregnant or have built muscle fast. In any case, stretch marks can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. Using glycolic acid peels on your stretch marks can gradually make them less visible and help any redness dissipate over time.
Stretch marks occur when the skin is stretched too far, too rapidly. Common times for this to occur include during puberty, pregnancy, during weight training or at a point when you gain a lot of weight in a short period. When the skin is stretched too quickly, the collagen beneath the skin breaks down and is no longer produced as it should be. This results in dips in the skin where the collagen is no longer produced. Stretch marks may be purple, red or white.
Glycolic acid is a type of fruit acid or alpha hydroxy acid that is used in chemical peels. It can be applied at home or in a dermatologist's office. Common reasons for treatment include fine lines, wrinkles, acne, acne scars or sun damage. However, it can be effective in treating stretch marks.
Glycolic acid can help fade stretch marks over time. By applying it to your skin, you peel away the top layers to reveal healthier skin underneath. It's normal to see some peeling of your skin after using a glycolic acid treatment, but not everyone experiences this. You should notice an improvement in texture and coloration of your skin. Several treatments are required before you will notice a change in your stretch marks.
Glycolic acid peels are not for everyone. The chemical might be too strong for your skin and, if left on too long, could burn your skin. It's always best to use the lowest possible concentration first before progressing to stronger concentrations to avoid unpleasant side effects, like redness, stinging, burning, peeling and scabbing.
You should notice a change in your skin's texture after two or three treatments. You will probably need to use an at-home preparation of glycolic acid once a week for at least six weeks before you notice your stretch marks fading. It is likely that your stretch marks won't disappear entirely, even after several treatments, though you can expect an improvement in the redness, roughness or generally irregular appearance of your scars.
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Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.