How can I get rid of stretch marks?

I had my first baby nine months ago (I’m 32) and I have horrible purple stretch marks on my belly and thighs. Everyone keeps talking about going to the beach when it’s sunny, but I don’t want to strip off in front of anyone. Can I get rid of them?

Stretch marks are more common in women than men and particularly during pregnancy when the combination of hormonal changes and weight gain means the elastic fibres in the skin are more prone to damage. Sadly, once formed they won’t disappear but the deep purple colour will fade over time and a good fake tan will go a long way to disguising them. I have seen great results from laser treatment which is most effective if done whilst the stretch marks are still dark, but I’m afraid the treatment isn’t available on the NHS and is likely to set you back a few hundred pounds.