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The Complete Guide To Stretch Marks: Causes, Prevention and Removal

stretch mark removal

Stretch Mark Removal: The Complete Guide To Treating Your Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are a cause of concern to many people – the can have a negative effect on our lives. This is the reason why, many of us are looking to understand the process of stretch mark removal. 

They can discourage us to wear some types of clothes especially those that expose our skin. They can also limit many of us from engaging in outdoor activities and sports.

Women are more prone to them, mainly due to pregnancy.

They are also known to affect various parts of the body, with the belly, buttocks and thighs being the most prone regions.

The article explores to the topic of stretch mark removal. It also looks at the treatment options that are available revealing that stretch mark prevention tends to be the most effective strategy to battle this issue. 

The article also provides information on many alternative treatment methods underlining the benefits and risks of each therapy. 


Defining What Stretch Marks Are

According to Medical News Today, stretch marks are long and narrow streaks or stripes which form on the skin, mostly in the abdomen area and acquire a different color from the rest of the skin in the surrounding area.

They are also known by other terms such as striae atrophicans, striae ditensae and striae gravidarum. They cause disfiguring scars or lesions which are characterized by flattening and wasting of the outer part of the skin.

They normally start as red or purple marks but gradually turn or fade to silvery white.

Stretch marks are common, almost everyone is prone to these marks although statistics indicate that women are more affected than men, one attributing factor to this situation is pregnancy.

Stretch marks mainly occur due to sudden stretching of the skin either due to pregnancy or weight gain or loss.

They are mostly visible in different parts of the body, although they are common in the belly, thighs, hips, breasts or generally areas where fats are known to accumulate.


What Causes Stretch Marks To Appear

There are a number of causes of stretch marks:

  • some are due to weight gain or loss
  • others are due to pregnancy
  • intense growth during adolescence can lead to stretch marks
  • acute trauma from an accident can be another reason
  • inappropriate or prolonged usage of some drugs
  • genes are also known to attribute to the appearance of stretch marks

Stretch marks mainly appear after an intense growth and failure of the skin to bounce back after such a period.

To understand how exactly stretch marks appear on the skin, it is important to have an understanding of how the skin is structured.

Human skin is made up of three main layers, each performing a specific role. They are:

  • the outer layer or the epidermis
  • the dermis, which is the layer which is found in the middle
  • and the deepest layer which is also known as hypodermis or the subcutaneous layer

skin-layers

The layers which are affected by stretch marks are the outer and middle sections of the skin.

This happens when the connective tissues is subjected to pressure forcing it to stretch beyond its limit.

The intense and rapid expansion and contraction of the tissues in these layers lead to scars or marks appearing on the skin, clearly showing the pressure that had been in the region as the skin attempted to accommodate the extra tissues or growth.

READ:  What Causes Stretch Marks To Appear

How exactly stretch marks develop on your skin

 

stretch-marks-on-skin

When the body grows, connecting tissues normally stretch to accommodate the growth, this process is usually gradual.

When the growth is rapid, that is over a short period of time, either due to additional fats, inflammation or a pregnancy, the fibers are subjected to a lot of pressure, leading to overstretching and breakages, this leads to the appearance of stretch marks.

Individuals who develop stretch marks normally start noticing the skin becoming thin in the affected area. This is due to expansion which is caused by a creation of a room to accommodate growing masses under the skin.

The location also becomes flattened and turns pinkish. There are some people who complain of an itchy feeling in the affected areas.

The lines or streaks later become clear turning pinkish, reddish or dark brown depending on the skin color.

They normally appear as patches forming parallel lines to the skin, a touch on the affected skin will feel wrinkly but eventually they flatten out.

As the lines flatten, they may begin to fade and change color to white or silvery. With time they become less visible although they never fade completely. 

Rapid weight change has a huge effect on stretch marks

Putting on excess weight over a short period of time may also cause the development of stretch marks. These marks are known to remain visible even after one sheds the extra pounds.

Dieting is known to cause a rapid decrease in weight, then the skin sags causing wrinkles which are products of stretch marks.

Body builders as well as athletes also get stretch marks as their muscles enlarge due to excessive build up.

Eating a balanced diet can also go a long way in the prevention of stretch marks. The quantity of carbohydrates needs to be reduced as well as the fats and oils.

The diet needs to be rich in vitamins and minerals, and more particularly vitamin E and C. The minerals which are required in adequate quantities are zinc and silicon.

The use of dietary supplements should be carefully considered. You should go natural or organic; eat food which are rich in these minerals. You will not only be avoiding weight problems but will be boosting your body through the consumption of necessary nutrients.

Junk foods and sugary drinks as well as alcohol need to be avoided at all cost. These are not only riddled with excess calories but also with chemicals which affect the skin.

Keep in mind that there are different variations of stretch marks

Stretch mark removal very much depends on the type of stretch mark you are dealing with.

There are variations of stretch marks, with the skin complexion determining the appearance of the skin condition.

Some variations are based on the color of the marks such as:

  • bluish
  • reddish
  • purplish

The location of the stretch marks is also used to describe the condition with varieties such as:

  • breasts
  • hips
  • thighs
  • buttocks
  • abdomen

There are also those which cover multiple parts of the body or are found in large areas of the body.

How some medications cause stretch marks to appear

There are some products or medications that can lead to the development of stretch marks.

Use of corticosteroids over a long period of time or inappropriate application of the drug has been associated with stretch marks, as it basically interferes with production of collagen in the body. 

Unless it is a recommendation from the doctor, the use of products which contain this ingredient should be curtailed or avoided altogether. In the case when this medication is used for treatment of eczema or acne it is advisable to use alternative methods. 

Treatments of conditions that predispose an individual to stretch marks are also very effective in prevention of the condition. This involves the identification of the symptoms and seeking treatment as soon as possible.

Stretch mark removal is most effective when prevention of the causes is achieved in the first place.

This not only heals the prevailing problem but further decreases the possibility of developing stretch marks and other health complications.


Pregnancy Stretch Marks

pregnancy stretch marks

Many women expect to get stretch marks during and after their pregnancy. In fact we consider this to be a normal occurrence.

You will hear of cases where women complain of their tummy itching and feeling tight as well as noticing lines as the belly grows in size.

Actually this is in line with an American Academy of Dermatology study which found 90% of women get stretch marks as they approach their third trimester.

During pregnancy, the body grows intensely, faster than the skin can keep up with. This leads fibers under the skin to break leading to stretch marks.

Dr Waldorf, an associate professor at the Mt Sinai School of Medicine says that a woman’s body gains at least 30 pounds during pregnancy. This is a huge gain and given that it is rapid, there is definitely some increased pressure on the skin.

The most affected areas are:

  • tummy
  • breasts
  • upper arms
  • buttocks
  • thighs

Professor Mary Lupo, a dermatologist at Tulane University points out that weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy, with expectation of 25 to 35 additional pounds for the whole duration.

She also points out that this leads to intense pressure on the skin, a major contributing factor to stretch marks among women.

During pregnancy, the body produces hormones which soften the ligaments in the pelvic area, making it flexible. In the process the fibers in the skin are also softened making them prone to skin stretch. As the baby grows, the skin stretches leading to the creation of pregnancy stretch marks.

Mary Lupo points out that young pregnant woman are more prone to stretch marks. The weight of the infant also determines the intensity of the stretch marks.

Women who tend to have big infants grow bigger and are likely to have more visible marks than those who have average babies.

Those who are carrying multiples are also at a risk of developing stretch marks; their belly will expand as it accommodates the multiple pregnancy.

Women who have excess amniotic fluid are also likely to develop stretch marks, since its accumulation also leads to an increase in size.

The weight of a woman before pregnancy also determines whether one will get stretch marks and how intense they will be. Women who are small are more likely to develop stretch marks compared to those who are big.

Genetic factors also play a role. Studies have shown that if a mother experienced stretch marks, chances are high that the daughters will have them too. Therefore if your mother had stretch marks, there is a high likelihood that you will get them too. 

READ:  Pregnancy Stretch Marks: How To Treat And Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Are Stretch Marks Genetic?

genetic stretch marks

In a study that aimed at finding the relationship between the development of stretch marks and genetics, 23andMe, one of the leading personal genetics companies, found that there are certain genetic factors which determine the development of stretch marks.

This clearly supports the fact that stretch marks can run in families.

If one or both of your parents developed stretch marks in their lifetime, chances are high that you will also experience the same.

This explains why some individuals are susceptible to this condition despite the fact that they do not gain a lot of weight.

Conditions such as Cushing’s Syndrome are also known to cause stretch marks. Although it is a rare health condition, it is known to occur when there is over-production of cortisol in the body.

Another condition, known as Marfan Syndrome leads to a weakening of the skin and the connective fibers, this leads to reduction of the elasticity, limiting the capacity to stretch. When the skin is subjected to pressure, it has no capacity to stretch leading to the development of stretch marks.

People who suffer from this condition normally develop stretch marks on the lower back, hips and shoulder areas.

A reduction in the level of collagen in the skin will automatically reduce its capacity to stretch making it prone to developing marks.

Failure to follow the instructions on the application of the creams or lotions which contain corticosteroid as well as using it over a long period of time have been pointed out as the main reason that lead to development of the stretch marks.


How To Prevent Stretch Marks

prevent stretch marks

Stretch marks can be prevented.

For people who are genetically predisposed the complete prevention may not be possible but there are treatment options which can surely reduce the likelihood of stretch marks appearing. 

Knowledge of the causes of stretch marks is the basis for prevention. Avoiding the causing elements and activities is the first step towards not having to think about stretch mark removal at a later stage.

For the majority of people who suffer from stretch marks, weight is a factor. They normally add or lose weight rapidly. If you are on a weight gaining mission, it is important that you seek assistance from an expert, so that they can advise you on how to go about it.

On the same note, dieting should be done with caution. Use programs that have been found effective.

An attempt to add or lose weight in a short period of time will not only lead to the development of stretch marks but also expose you to serious health complications. The process should be gradual and only after a consultation with a medical expert.

Being overweight leads to many health complications, some of which can reduce the quality of your life. Managing your weight becomes an important strategy not only to avoid stretch marks but also for general wellbeing.

There is a need to monitor what we consume, avoid food that is rich in fats and calories. This will reduce an accumulation of fats in the body, a factor that contributes greatly in the rapid growth and eventual development of stretch marks.

For those who may have already gained excess weight, no need to despair, further development of stretch marks on the skin can be prevented through the gradual shedding of extra weight.

This can be done through reduction of starchy and fatty foods, and regular exercise as well as an increased intake of fluids and fiber rich food.

It is important to seek professional advice before embarking on a weight reduction program. This ensures that it is done effectively and it gives the desired results.

One should ensure that there are no underlying medical conditions which may be affected by weight loss. Experts say that one would rather cope with stretch marks than trying to get rid or avoid them only to develop a serious health condition.

Apart from emotional effects, stretch marks may not have any other serious effects on an individual but there are conditions which may be existing alongside stretch marks whose effects may be life-threatening.

This stresses the need to consult a medical practitioner before embarking on a journey of stretch mark removal.

READ:  How To Prevent Stretch Marks With These Simple Steps

Stretch Mark Removal

stretch mark removal creams

Stretch marks may not have a harmful effect on our health, but they can damage our self-confidence beyond repair.

They are also known to affect relationships, as men and women shy away from exposing their bodies due to marks that make them uncomfortable.

They limit our activities; especially engaging in sports which require light clothing. Seeking treatment not only boosts our self-confidence but also goes a long way in ensuring that we lead a quality life through participating in activities that we enjoy.

Stretch marks normally do not require medical treatment, they are known to fade away with time but for those who would need quick results, there are methods that can be used to remove them, although only partially.

One important fact to note as you seek treatment is that they may disappear partially but complete fading of the marks may take time or may not be possible.

Experts talk of improvement but not complete disappearance of the stretch marks. The most effective way of managing stretch marks is prevention.

There are a number of products which can help in the treatment and removal of stretch marks. It is important to note that none may be recommended as more effective or successful than another but they help in improving the skin texture and the eventual fading of stretch marks.

Stretch mark removal creams

One of the effective stretch mark removal creams is the Retinoid Cream. This cream is a derivative of vitamin A retinoid such as retin A and renova A vita.

It is applied on the skin to help in building up the collagen levels. It helps to camouflage the stretch marks, making them seem line part of the normal skin.

Although it works in improving the texture and appearance of the stretch marks, it needs to be used with caution since tretinoin may cause irritation of the skin.

The product also need to be used with caution by mothers who are pregnant or nursing as it may have some side effects which may affect your baby.

Laser treatment for stretch marks

Lesser therapy is very effective in making your stretch marks less visible over time.

Laser stretch mark removal is available in different types. For example, the pulsed dye treatment is a painless process which can be used to treat stretch marks at an early stage. This is when the marks are still purplish or reddish in color.

The blood vessels below the marks absorb the energy produced by the laser treatment leading to collapsing of the vessels and ultimate disappearance of reddish or purplish color, or turning them to white.

The exact number of sessions will be determined by the intensity of the stretch marks as well as the skin complexion.

Given that there are number of light and laser therapies available in the treatment of the stretch marks, your medical consultant will help in selecting the most appropriate method given your skin color.

Microdermabrasion for stretch marks

Microdermabrasion is another treatment method which involves blowing away the crystals on the skin helping in removal of the top layer and leaving a new one to grow.

Many claim that microdermabrasion may not be the most effective procedure as it has an effect only on the top layers of your skin whereas stretch marks affect the inner layers. However, in combination with other therapies and depending on your type of stretch marks it can still help you reduce the appearance of stretch marks. 

Cosmetic surgery for stretch marks

Cosmetic surgery is an expensive procedure and it is rarely recommended, but for those who may have widespread stretch marks especially in the abdominal areas as well as loose skin, tummy tucking or abdominoplasty is available.

The procedure involves removal of the excess fat and skin around the abdominal area and in the process gets rid of the stretch marks which may have developed in the area.

The process is largely cosmetic making it unavailable in many centers, on the same note it is not covered in most of the medical insurance.

It also carries a number of risks, therefore those who decide to use it to improve their appearance need to understand what they are getting into before jumping ship. 


There are several factors that will determine the selection of the appropriate method or a combination of therapies to help in the improvement of your skin texture and stretch mark removal. 

Therefore it is important that you consult with a physician especially if you are planning to undergo a medical procedure. Your doctor will also ask questions which will help in determining the appropriate method.

There will also be a consideration of the skin type and color as well as the convenience of the client as some treatments may require repeated visits and ongoing treatments.

Given that the treatment of the stretch mark is a cosmetic therapy, chances are high that it is not covered in your medical insurance.

You also need to set realistic expectations. You need to be patient to avoid a situation of becoming too stressed about your results or the lack of such. 

If you are emotionally distressed by stretch marks, seek medical assistance. You will get the necessary advice on how you can improve the situation and at the same time counseling on the management of stretch marks. 

Do not let stretch marks limit your life potential. 

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