Topical application of tretinoin (retinoic acid) has been shown to significantly improve the appearance of pregnancy-related stretch marks. In a double-blind, randomized, vehicle-controlled study, 22 women with early, clinically active stretch marks applied either 0.1% tretinoin or vehicle daily for 6 months to the affected areas. Patients were evaluated by physical exam monthly and by analysis of biopsy specimens of stretch marks obtained before and at the end of therapy in comparison with untreated normal skin. After 2 months, patients treated with tretinoin had significant improvements in severity scores of stretch marks compared with patients who received vehicle. After 6 months, 8 of the 10 tretinoin-treated patients had definite or marked improvement compared with one of the 12 vehicle-treated patients. An open-label, multicenter, prospective study of 20 women found that tretinoin cream 0.1% applied daily for 3 months to pregnancy-related stretch marks in the abdominal area resulted in significantly improved clinical appearance.
Another study reported that elastin content within the reticular and papillary dermis can increase with topical 20% glycolic acid combined with 0.05% tretinoin emollient cream therapy.
This therapy should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding.
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