If you’ve recently had a baby or have lost/gained a significant amount of weight, chances are you’re no stranger to stretch marks. Stretch marks (or striae) are a completely normal type of scarring that develops when our skin stretches or shrinks quickly. Stretch marks vary in length and often start as a pinkish red or purple, which over time can fade to a white or silver colour.
Regardless of your age or gender, you may, at some point in your life, notice stretch marks forming on your skin. Today, we have a look at everything you need to know about this common phenomenon – what causes them, how you can prevent them and everything in between. Sit back, relax and read on to find out more.
What Are Stretch Marks?
One of the most common questions that we get asked by clients is what exactly stretch marks are and what purpose they serve the skin and body. To put it simply, stretch marks are scars that happen when your skin rapidly stretches or shrinks. They typically show up as bands of lines running across your skin and may start off pinkish or red purple, fading into white or silver over time. Skin is usually fairly stretchy, but when overstretched, the normal production of collagen is disrupted. As a result, your skin can develop stretch marks.
It is important to note that stretch marks aren’t painful or harmful, although some people may not like the way they make their skin look.
So, What Causes Stretch Marks?
“Why do I have stretch marks?!” may be a question that comes to mind. There are a myriad of reasons that may cause stretch marks to appear on your skin. Some of the most common include:
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain;
- Rapid growth during puberty;
- Genetic disorders such as Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome;
- Use of corticosteroid on the skin for a prolonged period of time; and
- Weight training when you have rapid muscle growth.
Are Stretch Marks Genetic?
Researchers have found that there is indeed a genetic link to stretch marks. For example, if you have immediate family members who have stretch marks, there is a greater likelihood you will as well. Additionally, those with deeper skin tones (and hence, more melanin in their skin) are often less likely to develop stretch marks. This is because darker skin tends to be more elastic compared to paler skin types, but this doesn’t mean that stretch marks are completely avoidable.
Overall, when it comes to hereditary stretch marks, severity is affected by several factors, including your genetics and the degree of stress on the skin.
How To Prevent Stretch Marks
While there may not be a 100% effective or tried-and-tested method to preventing stretch marks entirely, here are some tips that may reduce your likeliness of developing them:
Maintain A Healthy Weight
One of the most helpful things you can do to prevent stretch marks is to maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can help prevent significant weight gain or weight loss that may cause your skin to stretch out and lose its elasticity. Working to control body changes from happening too quickly may very well be your best bet to prevent stretch marks from forming.
Eat A Nutrient Rich Diet
You may be more prone to stretch marks if you are deficient in nutrients such as Vitamin c, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Zinc and Protein. As such, eating foods that boost skin health is always advised. Be sure to include a variety of different fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet, along with lean sources of protein and healthy fats.
Moisturising your skin with a high quality moisturiser regularly may help prevent stretch marks. Although there are no creams or oils proven to prevent stretch marks, keeping the skin supple may be helpful for reducing the risk in some people. Moisturisers are also effective in reducing itching that happens as the skin stretches.
Ensuring that you are well hydrated is key to maintaining smooth, elastic and supple skin. Soft skin doesn’t tend to develop stretch marks as much as dry skin does, so if that’s not enough motivation to up your daily fluid intake, we don’t know what is! Aim to drink at least 104 ounces for men and 72 ounces for women on a daily basis. Avoid soft drinks, coffee or caffeinated tea that may cause a diuretic effect on the body.
How Do I Get Rid of Stretch Marks?
If you are like most of us who already have stretch marks, you may be wondering what you can do to get rid of them entirely. Many products and procedures promise to minimise the appearance of stretch marks, or even make them disappear completely. To date, however, little evidence supports the effectiveness of these products.
The most ideal treatment for stretch marks include those that work on a dermal level to stimulate and remodel the damaged and stretched collagen and reduce the appearance of colour. Such treatments include:
Skin Needling is a non-invasive procedure that creates microscopic channels into the skin. This stimulates the wound healing response, triggering the production of new collagen and elastin fibres to correct and re-build the skin’s structure without harming the surface layers of the skin. For those with stretch marks, this improves the depth and size of the Striae by remodelling and reshaping the damaged tissue, as well as repairing and reducing the stretch marks colour.
Laser Toning Treatment utilises Q-switch laser technology. The rapid speed of the laser combined with a high repetition rate causes vibration in the skin which helps stimulate collagen.
Low Intensity Laser Therapy (LILT) utilises 3B cold laser technology, which stimulates cell production by emitting various light wavelengths, triggering a variety of healing, regenerating, stimulating and corrective responses that can stabilise and normalise skin function with no heat, discomfort or downtime. For Stretch Marks, LILT works to stimulate the natural healing response, promote rapid scar tissue repair, collagen production and renewal, resulting in stretch mark reduction and removal.
What you can do to support your in-clinic treatments at home
In addition to all the in-clinic treatments we can perform to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, the use of a home roller and a retinol will further enhance your results. We recommend the daily use of the O COSMEDICS SKIN-INJECT MTS (Micro-Needling Therapy System) Derma Roller with the Lira Clinical C4 Retinol
Stretch marks -Before & After
In A Nutshell
Stretch marks are a totally normal part of life and chances are that everyone will experience them at some point in life. Many creams and other skin products claim to get rid of stretch marks, but the truth is that most don’t work and are incredibly costly. Usually, the best thing you can do is to be patient as stretch marks often fade with time.
If they still bother you, we highly recommend getting in touch with one of our expert clinicians who will be able to guide you through the various treatments available at VC Dermal Clinics.