There are certain “imperfections” that would make you to be tentative when it comes to taking your clothes off in the public. Stretch marks are among such.
These streaks aren’t really a sign of a serious problem. They don’t always suggest ill-health. But how awful they can look on the skin will make you wish strongly for something that can help to quickly get rid of them.
What can make you to have stretch marks on your skin? What are the options you have for treating or preventing them, and how effective are such? In this comprehensive article, you will get answers to these questions along with other useful information.
What are Stretch Marks and What Do They Look Like?
A stretch mark is a type of scarring on the skin with an irregular color. They usually appear like narrow streaks, lines or stripes on the skin. People also refer to them by some other names, including striae and striae distensae (SD).
These streaks can show up in different colors between individuals. They can be red, pink, purple, reddish-brown or purplish-blue. Individual skin color typically determines how they look.
Stretch marks often fade over time, but they are unlikely to disappear totally without deliberate intervention.
The most common places where these streaks show up include the abdomen, upper arms, breasts, shoulders, buttocks, hips and thighs. They are most likely to appear in areas of your body with high amounts of fat.
Stretch marks do not constitute serious risk to your health, but they can be a real nuisance. They can have unpleasant effect on your body image.
In some people, the cosmetic concern may interfere with ability to function effectively.
How Do You Get Stretch Marks?
These undesirable lines usually result after sudden, rapid growth of the body. This change causes the skin to stretch beyond the level it can efficiently handle.
Rapid shrinkage of the skin is also said to be capable of making stretch marks to appear.
Sudden growth or weight change causes the dermis, the layer of the skin that helps it to retain its shape, to tear. It is ordinarily impossible for stretch marks to form when this resilient layer remains intact.
The extreme stretching of the skin causes collagen and elastin to rupture. These are two important structural proteins for keeping away issues such as wrinkles and stretch marks.
When the dermis and these proteins become ruptured, stretch marks may surface as your skin tries to heal.
The risk of having these streaks increases when certain factors impede the production of collagen and elastin. The protein fibers are useful for elasticity and resilience of your skin in response to stress. Support for the skin reduces when their levels drop, increasing risk of dermal and epidermal tearing.
Striae often begin as purple or reddish lesions. Prior to these, however, you may observe your skin becoming thin or feeling itchy.
The raised streaks flatten and lose pigmentation with time. Their color eventually turns to silver in many people. It is possible that they may become hard to notice after some years.
Causes and Risk Factors
As already explained, stretch marks are traceable to sudden growth or weight changes. We discuss below some of the factors or conditions that can make this to happen.
This is arguably the most common causative factor for stretch marks. The form that is seen in pregnant women is called striae gravidarum. It results from sudden expansion of the uterus and rapid weight gain.
Any woman who becomes bigger as a result of pregnancy has a potential of having these streaks. Estimates have it that up to 90 percent of pregnant women have them either during pregnancy or afterwards.
Changes in hormone levels in the body can also play a role in development of stretch marks. This is a factor in those seen as a result of pregnancy.
For instance, researchers say that a combination of estrogen, relaxin and cortisol during pregnancy can bring about accumulation of fluid in connective tissue. This increases the risk of skin layer tearing.
An increase in the steroid hormone cortisone may make it more likely for you to have the stripes. This reduces the flexibility or elasticity of your skin and raises the risk of tearing. It impedes the formation of collagen and elastin fibers by fibroblasts.
There are diverse diets for different purpose. Some help you to lose weight faster and others to bulk up quicker. Either of these kinds of diets may leave you prone to stretch marks. They put your skin under undue pressure.
Young people often experience growth spurts during their years of puberty. The sudden change can cause their skin to stretch.
This phenomenon isn’t really something to worry much about. It is more likely for the resulting marks to fade and become unnoticeable as the kids grow older.
Yes, you could possibly have stretch marks when trying to build muscles. Engaging in weight training while experiencing fast muscle gain can cause this to happen. Low fat in areas of muscle growth can leave bodybuilders with the streaks.
Hormonal changes that take place in the body during muscle building is said to also be a possible factor in this.
This is a genetic disorder that is characterized by abnormal growth. It weakens fibers in your skin and reduces its elasticity. Through these effects, Marfan syndrome can leave you exposed to having stretch marks.
People have this rare disorder due to high levels of the hormone cortisol in the body for extended period of time. Cushing’s syndrome brings about rapid increase in body weight and makes the skin to lose its resilience.
The use of creams containing corticosteroid may lead to stretch marks. This is more likely when you make use of such for a long period of time. This anti-inflammatory substance causes the amount of collagen in your skin to decline, making you more likely to have the streaks.
Being female increases your risk of having stretch marks. They also do run in some families; if a parent or close relative has them, you just might also.
Other risk factors include:
- Teenage pregnancy
- Birth weight of child in a pregnant woman
- Chronic medical conditions, including those linked to the adrenal gland
- High body mass index (BMI) prior to being pregnant
How Do You Treat Stretch Marks?
There are different options available to you for getting rid of these unsightly streaks. But the efficacy of most of these treatments is often questioned by experts. Some expensive offerings have even been found to be ineffective.
Poor efficacy or high prices of products make some people with stretch marks to simply settle for body makeup. This helps to make them less noticeable.
But if makeup won’t cut it for you, you could still consider getting treatment for the lines. You just have to note that such may not completely eliminate them. They are scars – you can only succeed in making them less noticeable.
With that said, let’s have a look at some things that may help you reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
A number of herbal or natural remedies are thought to work, although there is no research to back most of them.
One of these which you may find beneficial is bitter almond oil. Researchers found in a study that pregnant women who massaged it on their belly had fewer stripes than others who didn’t do the same.
Argan oil is also another great option for treating stretch marks as it has been used for millennia by Berber women to successfully get rid of them especially after pregnancy.
Centella asiatica is another herbal remedy that some people think may help with stretch marks. You can find it in some products intended for this purpose. It is believed to regenerate skin tissue and boost collagen synthesis.
Among the other home remedies that are thought to be useful are vitamin E, cocoa butter and olive oil.
There are tons of topical preparations out there promising to help you fade stretch marks. They include creams, gels and lotions.
These products won’t work for everyone that uses them, as researchers have found. Some of them won’t even work at all, or may just produce difference that is very hard to notice, for those who use them.
Many of these offerings for stretch marks aim to help by boosting collagen production.
There are certain ingredients you should ideally look out for when buying a product. These are constituents that have some research to back their efficacy. They shouldn’t just be based on mere conjecture.
If you need a recommendation to start with, you could check out Skinception Intensive Stretch Mark Therapy. The highly-rated product contains trademarked, clinically proven ingredients, including Regestril and Darutoside. The constituents are not merely collagen boosters. They have been shown to reduce the depth and length of stretch marks in clinical trials.
This particular product not only boosts collagen synthesis, but it is said to also improve the levels of elastin in your skin. The two structural proteins can be beneficial for reducing the appearance of streaks on your skin.
Tretinoin and hyaluronic acid are two of the other ingredients in stretch mark creams that research has shown to be potentially beneficial as well.
Experts advise that you should start using topical preparations for stretch marks as early as possible. Their effects reduce significantly once the streaks reach an advanced state.
You should use them every day, as directed, taking time to massage them well into your skin.
If you aren’t getting much help from topical products and home remedies, you may seek the advice of a skin doctor (dermatologist) on a cosmetic procedure.
Options include laser treatments. A notable procedure is pulsed dye laser therapy. This involves the use of pulsed light’s energy to calm the blood vessels under the skin, which may contribute to the streaks.
Other procedures your dermatologist may suggest include:
- Fractional CO2 laser therapy
- Chemical peels
Although these procedures may be helpful, experts say they cannot get rid of stretch marks completely. They will only assist in reducing the appearance of the lines.
In some cases, you may need to undergo more than one of these procedures to get the best results. Each of these also carries risk of side effects.
What Can You Do to Prevent Stretch Marks?
It is not always feasible to prevent these lines from forming on your skin. This is also not entirely impossible, however.
There are many creams, lotions and gels that can supposedly help to keep stretch marks at bay. Some experts say, however, that there is little or no proof that these actually do anything.
You may hope to get help in preventing the marks by using ingredients that have been clinically shown to indeed help.
In addition, you can get help with this by:
- Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Taking an adequate amount of water (6-8 glasses) daily
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Keeping away from yo-yo dieting
You may succeed in reducing your risk of having stretch marks by putting these tips into practice.
When to See a Doctor
You do not really need to see a doctor before you get a product for combating stretch marks. They are available over-the-counter and online.
But some of these treatments can be expensive and, yet, ineffective. You should not delay any further before seeing a dermatologist if you find that you’re spending significant amount of money on treatment without commensurate benefits.
A certified skincare professional is in a better position to suggest something more helpful. Recommendations will usually take into consideration factors such as age and how long you have had the streaks.
Beyond the cosmetic concern, stretch marks aren’t indicative of a serious problem. They do not really suggest long-term health risks.
Treatment is limited, in terms of efficacy. You want to ensure you go for topical preparations that contain ingredients backed by research, if you will be using one of those. It is also important that you use such according to instructions.
You should consider talking with a board-certified dermatologist, if the products you try don’t seem to work. This will enable you learn of any new product or a procedure that could prove more useful.
Stretch Marks: Common Causes and How To Get Rid of Them (https://www.webmd.com/beauty/what-are-stretch-marks)
Stretch marks: Why they appear and how to get rid of them | American Academy of Dermatology (https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/stretch-marks)