Dermatology: What a Stretch

Motherhood is beautiful. The scars it leaves behind aren't: more than 90 percent of women develop stretch marks during the last trimester of their pregnancies. Is there anything you can do to prevent them? "Choose different parents," says Denver dermatologist Barbara Reed. In other words: no, they're hereditary. Moisturizers will help soothe itching, but they won't improve your appearance. Dr. Andrea Cambio, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, suggests asking your doctor to prescribe tretinoin (Retin A) during the early stages after delivery and nursing. It can help fade the marks. Or try laser therapy with a pulsed dye laser (from $300 per session; go to aad.org for more info). For a less expensive approach, Cambio suggests sunless tanning creams, which can help camouflage older, silvery lines. There are better lasers in the works, but, until then, you'll just have to wear your scars with pride.

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