Stretch Mark Treatment – Prevention, Causes and treatments

Stretch Mark Treatment

Stretch marks are a common occurrence that effects nearly everyone at some point in their lives.

Often viewed as embarrassing and something we need to hide, by the time we are adults – the majority of people will have them somewhere on their body!

It is important to remember that stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of and are part of who we are – they tell a story about our bodies growth and change over time throughout our lives.

In this article we will take a close look at stretch mark treatments, from common myths to offering practical tips for helping to treat them – helping you to embrace your body, stretch marks and all!

What exactly are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are a common skin condition which appears on the skins surface in the form of pink, red or silvery stripes.

These can affect anyone regardless of your age, gender, skin colour or body type. They appear when skin is stretched over a short period of time and can be caused by a range of different factors.

What do they look like?

Stretch marks are lines or stripes on the skin which can be red, pink or silvery in color, they can sometimes have a slightly shiny appearance.

Mostly found on the stomach, thigh, buttocks, breasts and arms they are known to run horizontally or vertically, and can form as a result of skin stretching and growing quickly.

Affecting self-esteem, many people can feel embarrassed and self-conscious about their stretch marks which can have a real affect on body confidence and mental health.

It is important to understand the causes of them and different treatments available to help improve their appearance.

Common myths about stretch marks

There are a lot of common myths about stretch marks, from who can get them and what they look like;

‘Only women can get stretch marks’ Incorrect – men, women and even children can suffer from them.

‘only overweight people get stretch marks’ while rapid weight gain or loss can be a common cause – people of all body types can get them. Its more about the rate of skin growth than the actual size of the body. If the skin is stretched or shrunk over a quick period of time then it can cause stretch marks to appear.

‘you can only get stretch marks on your stomach’ they can appear on any part of the body that has rapid growth or change. Areas such as thighs, arms, breasts, hips and back.

‘Stretch marks will go away if I use creams or other topical treatments’ while some creams, oils, and gels can help to fade and reduce the appearance of stretch marks, they will never fully disappear.

‘stretch marks are a sign of poor health’ stretch marks are a natural part of the body’s growth and development and cannot be influenced by a person’s lifestyle.

By looking at the true causes of stretch marks, we can start to look at the ways to help improve their appearance.

What are the causes?

Stretch marks (or dermal scarring) can be caused when the skin is stretched quickly beyond its normal limits and the collagen / elastic fibres break, causing lines or stripes on the skins surface. This can happen due to a variety of factors such as pregnancy, rapid weight gain, puberty or other medical conditions.

These factors all involve a swift and significant change in the body that lead to the stretching or tearing of the skins natural elastic fibres.

>> Pregnancy

During pregnancy the body undergoes significant changes to accommodate the growing baby – as the skin around the stomach, hips and breasts expands, the skin stretches which causes the elastic fibres to break which results in the formation of stretchmarks.

>> Puberty

Puberty is another common cause as the body undergoes significant growth and hormonal changes over a short period of time.

>> Weight Gain

When gaining weight quickly the skin cannot always stretch as quickly as the body needs it to, breaking down the collagen fibres and leaving behind the telltale stripes.

While stretchmarks are commonly caused by the reasons listed above, there are also some medical conditions that can be associated with them too…

>> Cushing’s Syndrome

This is a condition which can occur when the body is exposed to high levels of cortisol (the primary stress hormone) for an extended period of time.

>> Marfan Syndrome

Marfan Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue in the body, people suffering from this often have thin, fragile skin that is prone to stretch marks.

>> Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

This is another genetic disorder, people suffering from this often have hypermobile joints and very stretchy skin.

>> Obesity

Excess weight can put a strain on skin, causing it to stretch rapidly and causing stretch marks on the stomach, hips, back, arms, and legs.

For a definite diagnosis on any health condition, your GP or dermatologist will be able to perform a physical examination which will help to guide you on the correct course of treatment.

Stretch Mark Treatments

While they are a common and harmless condition, some people may seek medical treatment to reduce the appearance of their stretch marks or improve the texture of the skin. Here we look at a few different stretch mark treatments available, to suit all budgets.

>> Laser Therapy

A popular treatment that involves using a focused light beam to stimulate collagen production, laser therapy can help to improve overall skin tone and texture. Depending on the severity of the marks or scars, multiple sessions may be required to provide the desired results which can be expensive.

>> Micro Needling

Involving the use of a device with lots of small, fine needles these create tiny punctures in the skins’ surface to trigger the stimulation of collagen production – over time this can improve the appearance of the skin. As with laser therapy – multiple sessions may be required to see the results you want.

>> Topical Treatments

There are several options available in creams, lotions and gel forms. These include Retinoids which can help to increase collagen production and improve skin texture, and Hyaluronic acid which can hydrate the skin and give a plump appearance.

>> Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy

PRP Therapy involves injecting a concentrated solution of plasma into the skin, the platelets contain growth factors that can help stimulate collagen production and improve skin texture in problem areas.

It is important to remember that whilst being effective for some, these treatments may also have some potential side effects such as redness, swelling and bruising. It is imperative that you use a certified dermatologist or healthcare professional to carry out your treatment and determine the best course of action based on your individual requirements.

Can making changes to my lifestyle help?

There are several changes that you can make to your lifestyle that can help. While these may not completely eliminate the problem, they can help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and improve overall skin health.

Here are some examples;

>> Hydrate; drinking plenty of water can help keep the skin hydrated and improve elasticity.

·>> Moisturize; applying moisturizer to the skin can help improve texture and elasticity making it less prone to developing stretch marks. Look for products that contain ingredients such as cocoa butter, shea butter or hyaluronic acid – all of which can help nourish and hydrate the skin.

>> Exfoliate; regular exfoliation can help remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. Try using a gentle scrub with micro particles or a dry body brush once to twice a week.

>> Massage; helping to improve circulation and stimulate natural collagen production regular massage of the affected area can help.

>> Nutrition; eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals can help support overall skin health. Focus incorporating foods high in vitamins C & E and Zinc which can assist collogen production and skin healing.

>> Exercise; working hand in hand with a healthy diet, regular exercise can maintain a healthy weight which can help avoid rapid stretching of the skin. Cardio exercises such as running, swimming, cycling are good all round options to tone and tighten the skin to help with elasticity. Alternatively Yoga or Pilates are good low impact options which increase flexibility and tone the body at the same time.

>> Don’t smoke and avoid heavy alcohol consumption; both of these invite toxins into the body and can contribute to skin damage.

While maintaining a healthy lifestyle cannot guarantee the prevention of stretch marks, it can help to keep your body in optimum condition and maintain overall good skin health.

Using Natural Remedies

Using natural remedies such as aloe vera, coconut oil, and cocoa butter can be beneficial due to their properties that help to improve skin health. Here we look at some of their key qualities and how they can help;

>> Aloe Vera; known for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, making it a popular ingredient in many skin care products. It can help with reducing inflammation and redness associated with stretch marks / scars and can help with skin healing. Aloe vera contains antioxidants that can help improve elasticity and prevent further damage.

>> Coconut Oil; a natural moisturizer that keeps skin hydrated and healthy. It contains fatty acids and antioxidants to protect skin from damage whilst also reducing inflammation and promoting collagen production.

>> Cocoa Butter; a popular ingredient in moisturizers this has a lot of similar properties to coconut oil – it also contains phytochemicals to help improve skin tone.

These natural remedies are generally safe to use and can be incorporated into your daily skincare routine. With regular use they can help to improve skin heath and reduce the appearance of stretch marks over time.

It is important to remember that natural remedies may not be effective for everyone and contact a dermatologist for further information and advice for a personalised treatment plan.

Learn to love your skin

It is important to remember that stretch marks are a natural and normal part of the human body – the majority of people have them! They may fade over time, but try to embrace them rather than fight against them.

Instead of feeling worried or self-conscious, try to think of stretch marks as a testament to our body’s journey and growth.

So go ahead and rock those stretch marks proudly – you earned them!

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