Stretch marks can leave scars on your skin that can be very hard to hide. Although they are often associated with pregnancy, they can occur during many different times of life for both men and women. Genetics can determine whether or not you get stretch marks, and also determine the severity of their appearance. The most common cause of stretch marks is rapid weight gain or loss. That’s why they are so common during and/or following pregnancy. Stretch marks often fade on their own, but once there, they’re there for good! If you have stretch marks and would like to reduce their appearance, here are six effective treatments to consider.
What are stretch marks?
A stretch mark is actually a scar that develops when skin rapidly stretches and/or shrinks. Some people have them and don’t even realize that’s what they are. Because the skin is not used to such abrupt growth, it has difficulty adapting and is ruptured as the collagen and elastin are pulled. When the skin begins to heal from the stretching, it results in the scarred stretch marks. They can appear in different tones, but for the most part, you will see narrow bands on the skin that can be the same colour as your natural skin or vary in different shades of purples, reds, and browns. Another reason stretch marks are common for pregnant women, and teen girls are that fluctuating hormones can increase the risk for them to appear.
Some people will experience itching or tingling when stretch marks appear, and there can also be a feeling that the skin is slightly raised. Once the weight is lost, the marks will depress and feel like indents. The colours tend to fade to become closer to your natural skin tone as time passes. So, although they remain, they become less pronounced.
Who gets stretch marks?
The most common causes of stretch marks include:
- Growth spurts during puberty
- Rapid weight loss or gain
- Weight training that causes rapid muscle growth
During these periods, anyone can develop stretch marks, but the risk increases if you have others in your family with a history of stretch marks. Other risks for stretch marks include using a corticosteroid cream over a long period of time, or if you have Marfan Syndrome or Cushing’s Disease.
Begin with Prevention
The best way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks is to try to prevent them. Pregnant women, in particular, should be moisturizing their baby bumps and thighs using a good moisturizer containing natural ingredients such as coconut oil, almond oil, and cocoa butter. Pure aloe vera gel is also a good choice as it has soothing, healing properties.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t use any products without speaking to your doctor first. Many products contain dangerous ingredients for your baby, like retinol, so bring your cream to your doctor to confirm it is baby safe.
What are treatments for stretch marks?
While stretch marks will fade, they are unfortunately permanent. So, while nature does its best to help reduce their appearance over time, you might need a little help to make them even less noticeable. Here are some of the best treatments to help with stretch mark removal:
1. Creams and lotions
Stretch mark creams can help to varying degrees. In fact, some will do absolutely nothing, which means you could waste a lot of money using them. The best rule of thumb to improve your chances of success include:
- Use the product as soon as possible, as they tend not to work on older stretch marks.
- Make sure to massage the cream into the scars to help them penetrate more effectively.
- Apply the product every day for at least a few weeks, as it does take time to see results.
If, after a month or so, you don’t see any improvement, the cream might not be right for you.
2. Natural remedies
If you prefer the natural route, using the same oils recommended for prevention can help, including almond oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, or vitamin E.
3. Tanning products
Natural tanning will highlight your stretch marks, so avoid the sun. However, you can try fake tanners as they help camouflage the stretch marks by evening your skin tone. It won’t have any effect on helping them fade, but will instead act more of a coverup.
4. Prescription medicine
There are creams available with a prescription that can work for some people. Medications containing retinol, hyaluronic acid, and tretinoin can work on early stretch marks, but not on older ones. These are not suitable for pregnant or breast-feeding women, so be sure to get the thumbs up for use from your doctor.
5. Dermatologist applied cosmetic procedures
Dermatologists can perform a number of effective treatments, including:
- Chemical peel
- Laser therapy
Often, dermatologists will combine treatments to get the best results. A certified dermatologist must perform these procedures. You will also experience minor side effects immediately following most of these treatments, such as redness and swelling, and how long they last will vary based on your skin sensitivity and the treatment. In general, you can expect to be completely recovered in a few days, with some side effects only lasting for a few hours.
As mentioned, one of the natural products of your skin, collagen, is affected when stretch marks occur. Thus, it makes sense that it can assist in helping to repair the skin and bring back its elasticity and firmness. Using the latest technology, FORMA helps stimulate collagen production, resulting in tighter, smoother skin in areas where stretch marks appear. Because stretch marks consist of a series of “indents” and raised skin, the improvement to elasticity helps to even and fill the areas affected by stretch marks. It greatly improves skin texture, giving it a smoother, more consistent appearance. FORMA is safe for all skin types and is a very popular treatment to heal several skin woes, such as removing deep wrinkles and fine lines. It offers immediate results, which improves with each appointment and is non-invasive with no side effects. You will also experience little to no discomfort during your treatment. Unlike dermatologist treatments, you won’t require downtime and can return to work or get back to your day-to-day activities right away. Your skin will become more toned, and your skin colour will be even.
While there is no “cure” for stretch marks, these treatments can certainly help reduce their appearance. If you would like more information about FORMA, speak to our team at Clearview MediSpa today.