Reducing the Appearance of Stretch Marks With Red Light TherapyLast Updated:
Stretch marks can be a source of embarrassment and distress. Most people who have stretch marks try to cover them to avoid feeling apprehensive and self-conscious around others. A poor body image due to stretch marks negatively impacts your emotional well-being.
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What Are Stretch Marks and What Causes Them?
Most common in women, stretch marks are widespread scars that develop when your skin changes rapidly and expands faster than it can regenerate.  Common causes include:
- rapid growth during adolescence
- sudden weight gain
- elevated cortisol levels (sometimes caused by the use of corticosteroid medications)
- anabolic steroids used for muscle-building
- breast augmentation surgery
- certain genetic disorders
Stretch marks commonly appear on the abdomen, hips, buttocks, and breasts, but can appear anywhere on your body. They look like streaks or jagged lines and are pink, red, blue, purple, or black.
Stretch marks (and all scars) are your body’s natural response to an injury. When tissue is damaged, your body acts instinctively to fix the problem and return your body to its original state.
Skin regeneration  is an ongoing process. Your body constantly produces new skin cells that rise to the epidermis (your skin’s surface). A uniform framework of collagen produces new, normal, healthy skin. Skin typically regenerates about once a month, more quickly in younger people.
[Read about red light therapy benefits for facial skin and age related skin conditions.]
When your body is in “healing mode”, however, it tries to treat an injury as quickly as possible. Collagen production is amplified to a higher-than-normal level, causing cell generation to become rapid and irregular. The result is scar tissue; a disorganized framework of new skin cells that differs from healthy skin in texture and appearance. When the emergent situation your body responds to is a rapid expansion of your skin, stretch marks are the result.
Why Are Stretch Marks Permanent?
Stretch marks (and most scars) don’t go away because cells in close proximity communicate with one another. Damaged scar tissue cells send harmful signals to neighboring cells during the skin regeneration process. New cells take on the characteristics of neighboring and predecessor cells. So, if neighboring or original cells are damaged scar tissue cells, their regenerated replacements will develop as more scar tissue. Thus, stretch marks are usually permanent.
Traditional Treatments for Stretch Marks and Why They Aren’t Very Effective
The most common treatments for stretch marks are:
- Retinoids — Chemical compounds chemically related to Vitamin A, retinoids stimulate epithelial cell growth. Retinoid treatments typically come in the form of topical creams.
- Microdermabrasion — An invasive treatment that literally “sands” your skin to obliterate dead skin cells, microdermabrasion requires healing time and damages skin prior to improving its appearance. Microdermabrasion alleviates the appearance of stretch marks and promotes collagen production; however, it is highly invasive, unnatural, and causes significant skin irritation before yielding results.
Plastic Surgery — The most extreme way to treat stretch marks, plastic surgery is invasive, expensive, and fraught with inherent risk. It requires significant healing time and only affects your skin’s appearance, having no impact on your overall skin quality or health.While these remedies might have an impact on fading stretch marks, they do nothing to prevent future stretch marks or improve skin health.
Conversely, red light therapy stimulates your body’s natural healing capabilities to diminish (or eliminate) existing stretch marks and prevent new stretch marks from forming. 
How Can Red Light Therapy Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
Red light penetrates your skin to reach your cells’ mitochondria (energy centers), increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, thus stimulating collagen and elastin production. Increased collagen promotes normal, healthy cell generation, not the disorderly kind that produces stretch marks and other scarring. Normal, organized collagen production replaces scar tissue with healthy skin tissue.    
Red light also triggers stem cell production. Stem cells are your body’s generic building blocks.  Stem cells are “unspecialized” in purpose and can divide to produce new, differentiated cells with specific functions as needed. Instead of damaged cells sending unhealthy messages to neighboring cells, stem cells send the right message to neighboring cells, signaling them to adapt to the properties of normal, healthy skin cells.
Because it enhances your body’s natural healing processes at the cellular level, red light therapy provides more stretch mark treatment benefits than topical or surgical options.
Which Wavelengths Are Best for Reducing the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
The best treatment for overall skin health including regeneration and scar healing is an integrated formula using a combination of red LED light and NIR light. The specific wavelengths known to assist with faster wound healing and scar reduction are 605, 630, 633, 640, 650, 660, 670, 720, 780, 810, 830, and 855 nanometers (nm).
Red light therapy devices for convenient at-home use are available in various wavelengths and wavelength combinations.
How Long Will It Take To See Results?
Everyone is unique in their response to treatment, so there is no “cookie-cutter” answer as to exactly how long it will take you to see results.
The timing of treatment can range from just a few weeks to several months, depending upon the severity and age of the scarring. Newer stretch marks are more readily treatable than older ones.
What Else You Can Do To Speed Up the Healing of Stretch Marks?
In addition to red light therapy, the healing of stretch marks is enhanced by proper diet and hydration. To supplement your red light therapy, drink plenty of water and eat lots of lean proteins, leafy green vegetables, and antioxidants. Minimizing your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol consumption also promotes optimal healing and better skin health.
Other home remedies that have demonstrated success in reducing the appearance of stretch marks are:
- home-made sugar scrubs consisting of granulated white sugar, coconut oil, and a bit of lemon juice
- coconut oil alone
- aloe vera gel
- collagen-boosting hyaluronic acid supplements
Through red light therapy, you can begin to reduce the appearance of stretch marks immediately in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
Red light therapy is 100% natural, safe for all ages and skin types, FDA-approved, and causes no adverse side effects.
-  harvard.edu - Skin Regeneration and Rejuvenation (opens in a new tab)
-  biomedcentral.com - Red Light for skin scarring prevention (opens in a new tab)
-  nih.gov - LLLT in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring (opens in a new tab)
-  nih.gov - Red Light & Skin Fibrosis (opens in a new tab)
-  nih.gov - LED light-therapy on endothelial cells (opens in a new tab)
-  nih.gov - Red light on the generation of reactive oxygen species in primary dermal fibroblasts (opens in a new tab)
-  nih.gov - LLLT Irradiation on the Proliferation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Derived From Rat Bone Marrow (opens in a new tab)