Is there a stretch mark treatment or cure?
Stretch marks are unfortunately one of the most common skin concerns faced by women. They can arise from sudden and excessive weight loss, after giving child birth, and even with sudden weight increase. Fortunately there are effective treatments options available that do not require surgery but first, let’s look into what stretch marks are exactly.
Our skin is comprised of three major layers:
- The epidermis, the outer most layer of the skin (the part of your skin you see everyday); the surface
- The dermis, the layer beneath the epidermis, is where there are collagen & elastic fibers, hair follicles, sweat glands & sebaceous glands
- The hypodermis, which is the deeper layer made of subcutaneous tissue, fat & connective tissue
Stretch marks (or striae) occur in the dermis and is the result of our skin stretching suddenly. The dermis is made up of strong interconnecting fibres and allows the skin to stretch as your body grows. However if a part of your body grows rapidly over a short time these fibres can become thin, over stretched and some may break. When this occurs tiny tears develop and the blood vessels that lie under your skin show through; This is why stretch marks can have a reddish/purple appearance when they first begin to surface and may feel itchy.
The blood vessels do eventually contract, leaving the fat under the skin visible. The stretch marks eventually fade to a silvery white or grey colour and appear as flat stripe like lines however over time they usually fade and look like slightly depressed white streaks. Stretch marks can occur anywhere where the skin has been stretched in both men and women, however due to many factors such as genetics and lifestyle, some of us are more prone to stretch marks than others.
Our bodies naturally produce a hormone called cortisol and this hormone is released under times of stress but also has many other functions in the body; one of which is to break down sugars for use as energy. It has been suggested by some dermatologists that this excess cortisol environment is what can make some people more prone to stretch marks. Cortisol decreases the amount of collagen (the protein that helps with skin elasticity) in our skin and so this is a major contributor to the creation of new stretch marks.
Most common areas for stretch marks
Stretch marks usually occur on your:
- Upper arms
- Shoulders & Lower back (often seen with men who perform regular resistance training)
Stretch marks often occur:
- During pregnancy
- After rapid weight gain
- During puberty due to growth spurts
- If you have a family history of stretch marks
- Health conditions and other hereditary (genetic) disorder such as Marfan syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome and adrenal gland diseases can cause widespread stretch marks
- After the prolonged or inappropriate use of corticosteroid medication
Stretch marks are common during pregnancy, particularly in the later stages. Whether or not you’ll get stretch marks depends on your skin type, how elastic it is and obvious genetic predispositions.
As a baby grows, stretch marks can develop on the stomach due to the skin stretching at a rapid rate. Stretchmarks can also develop on the thighs and breasts as they get become bigger during the pregnancy.
After childbirth, stretch marks usually fade and become less noticeable, however they do not always disappear completely.
Rapid weight gain
If a lot of weight is gained over a short period of time, stretch marks can occur as the skin is suddenly stretched and can still remain this way even after losing the weight again.
As weight fluctuates rapidly, stretch marks can occur, however by losing weight slowly and steadily the skin is not put under as much sudden strain, in turn helping to reduce/prevent stretch marks.
It’s very common for bodybuilders and athletes to develop stretch marks as their muscles increase in size.
During puberty, the body often develops very quickly in growth spurts and this sudden growth and stretching of the skin can result in stretch marks in both boys and girls.
Boys may develop stretch marks on their shoulders and lower back, and girls may develop them on their hips, thighs and breasts.
If stretch marks are common amongst your family you may find you will be more likely to develop them yourself.
Laser therapy can help fade stretch marks and make them less noticeable. Several different types of laser therapies are used to treat stretch marks such as Low Intensity Laser Therapy which is a very therapeutic and a fairly natural process for rejuvenating the skin and promoting cellular regeneration. Laser skin treatments using the Medlite Q switched Nd Yag laser have also been shown to be effective and safe treatment options. Both treatments work on the deeper layers of the skin to repair and stimulate collagen production.
Skin needling is one of our specialties at Victorian Cosmetic Dermal Clinics and it is also known as CIT (collagen induction therapy). This treatment stimulates collagen production in your skin and assists your skin to produce more of it’s own natural collagen. By promoting a rebuilding of the collagen fibres within the skin, we are then able to lay down new foundations to improve the surface skin appearance.
Creams, gels and lotions
There are a huge range of creams, gels and lotions available out there and they can help make the skin feel smoother however they cannot remove stretch marks. In order to treat stretch marks a product needs to be able to penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin (the dermis) and these creams simply do not. That’s not to say you should not try them as some can definitely make the skin feel softer and smoother and can help improve the appearance of the skin.
However if you’re wanting to remove the stretch marks and see a visible change in the skin you will need to look into a treatment option that effectively targets collagen production on the area where the damage has occurred (the dermis). This key factor is what makes skin needling and laser therapies so effective as the treatment is targeting the dermis to repair the damage from the deeper layers up. A course of treatments is required for both, however to get more information speak to one of our experienced dermal therapists to find out the best treatment option for you.
Get in touch to consult with one of our dermal professionals about how you can fade away your stretch marks.