Let's face it, stretch marks are not very pretty. Whether they're brown, pink or white, thick or thin, if you've got them, chances are you wish you didn't. And once you do have them, they're extremely difficult to get rid of. The good news is, you're not alone. Most women will get stretch marks at some point in their life, and they will also seek stretch marks treatment
What are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks usually appear during periods of growth or when you quickly gain or lose weight. As your size and shape changes, your skin has to stretch to accommodate the change. Stretch marks are most common during puberty and pregnancy - times when the body undergoes rapid changes. But what exactly causes stretch marks to appear?
The skin has three layers: the epidermis, or outer layer; the dermis, the middle layer; and the subcutaneous stratum, the inner layer. While skin is quite elastic and can stretch a fair amount, it does have its limits. Once that limit is reached, the production of collagen gets disrupted, skin loses its elasticity and the connective fibers inside break. And all that equals you having a stretch mark.
Will I Have Stretch Marks?
Some people are more susceptible to forming stretch marks than others. Genetics can play a role, so if your mother had stretch marks, you're more likely to have them, too. Also, you're ethnicity can influence whether you'll get stretch marks, as well as how visible they will be. Darker skinned people people are less likely to get stretch marks while fair skinned are more likely to notice little red or pink marks.
The appearance of a stretch mark depends on the colour of your skin. They can be reddish brown, dark brown, or pink and will often turn purple over time. Stretch marks do fade eventually, becoming less noticeable on their own. Unfortunately, this can take quite a while; likely longer than you would like. As for where you might see them, the breasts, stomach, thighs, hips and buttocks are most common but it is also possible to find them on the legs, arms, pretty much anywhere fat accumulates and stretches the skin.
Some people are lucky enough not to get stretch marks, or to get them very rarely, but for most of us, they're a fact of life, especially during pregnancy. Statistically, between 75% and 90% of pregnant women will develop stretch marks. Some people claim that using a moisturizer or other lotion on the affected areas will reduce the chances of stretch marks developing by improving the skin's elasticity. It can't hurt to try, but be warned that that's not a guaranteed solution.
Getting Rid of Stretch Marks
It is possible to get rid of stretch marks, but, in some cases, it could take more effort or expense than you're willing to invest. Popular methods used to fade and remove stretch marks include:
- Tretinoin cream - also called Retin-A. Studies have shown that this may help reduce stretch marks. Do not use this if you are breastfeeding, as there have been no studies conducted to determine whether it's excreted in breast milk and what affect it can have on your baby.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) ' These plant derived extracts (sometimes called fruit acids) increase cell regeneration by removing the top layer of skin cells, allowing new, healthier cells to come to the surface, improving skin color and texture and allowing for better absorption of moisture. AHAs also purport to increase skin flexibility, which helps stretch marks to disappear.
- Endermologie ' This employs a special machine developed in France. Using rollers and gentle suction, the endermologie machine deeply massages the stretch marked areas, increasing circulation. This also expels built up water and toxins in the connective tissue as they are stretched. This requires a series of treatments, each lasting about half an hour and done by a trained technician.
- Laser Surgery ' This treatment won't remove the stretch marks, just make them fade. Laser surgery is most effective in the early stages of the stretch marks development, when the color is darkest, because the laser will only respond to dark colors. Laser removal will require a series of treatments for visible results.
- Micro-Dermabrasion ' Like AHAs, this method removes the outer layer of the skin, but micro-dermabrasion uses jets of zinc, aluminum oxide crystals, or a rough surface, to remove the dead skin. A small vacuum attached to a wand is usually used to suction off the dead skin. This process is painless and does not require anesthetic.
Many skin care experts say that keeping the skin soft and supple, not to mention well hydrated, can help ward off stretch marks, so be sure to drink lots of water (which is good for your skin in general). If you already have stretch marks and would like a way to cover them up, then you can use regular body makeup or you can buy specially formulated creams that work to remove stretch marks but are also tinted to help make them less visible.
Some women have also reported that using a self-tanner helps to camouflage their stretch marks. If you're going this route, remember that it is specifically tanners that you apply yourself that work. Since stretch marks don't really tan, sitting out in the sun or lying in a tanning bed for a while may make your stretch marks more noticeable as they remain light but your skin gets darker. Besides, tanning in the sun and on a tanning bed exposes you to UVA and UVB rays, which work to damage your skin, increase your risk of skin cancer, and can cause premature aging. So reach for that bottled tan instead.