Many people are curious about whether there is a safe and effective way to remove stretch marks. The reality is that stretch marks appear more easily on some people than on others. It is also easier to conceal the appearance of stretch marks for some people. Stretch marks appear when the skin grows quickly or is stretched by growth in an area under the skin.

The majority o pregnant women experience stretch marks, but athletes, children and other people also experience stretch marks as well. Stretch marks can technically appear anywhere on the body. However, the most common locations of stretch marks are areas in which fat is stored in large quantities on the body. Thus, you are more likely to develop stretch marks near your midsection than on the backs of your hands. On that note, if you suddenly notice a widespread appearance of stretch marks on your body, instead of just one place where you recently gained weight, you should consult a physician to rule out the possibility of an adrenal gland disease. If you anticipate that you will rapidly gain weight, it may be possible to prevent or reduce stretch marks by applying a cream to the area where the weight gain is anticipated.

Many people use cocoa butter to soften and protect the skin. Cocoa butter falls into the category of an "old wives' tale" in that many people try it, but no scientific research supports the claim that cocoa butter works. It may be worth a try as a preventative measure, since you won't need to remove stretch marks if you prevent them in the first place. There have been some studies of the efficacy of lotions or creams containing various combinations of vitamin E and elastin or collagen. These studies have had some positive results, which suggest that some creams may reduce or prevent stretch marks. Some doctors also suggest that proper hydration will help to prevent stretch marks. However, for people who already have stretch marks, some treatment is available to reduce their appearance.

Creams are available over the counter (that is, at drug stores) and on the internet. These creams may be a good way to start, since they are non-invasive, contain moisturizer that will, at the very least, soften your skin, and are relatively inexpensive. In fact, many companies have recently begun to sell creams that they claim are breakthroughs. They are so new that few, if any, studies have been done to determine whether they work. Aside from creams, doctors can remove stretch marks using various procedures, which are more expensive than creams and may not be covered by health insurance.

Dermabrasion and chemical peels have been cited as medical procedures to treat stretch marks. Given that dermabrasion and chemical peels are sometimes offered by spas, it may be worth asking your local esthetician if there is a spa in your area that can offer a less costly stretch mark treatment. These procedures reduce the appearance of stretch marks, but will not eliminate them. One of the only ways to completely remove stretch marks is a procedure such as a "tummy tuck," in which the surgeon actually removes the affected skin. Before going under the knife, you may wish to try a cream and to just wait a while, since many stretch marks fade in appearance over time.