Stretch Marks: Why are they caused and what options do you have to minimize their appearance?
Stretch marks are a normal and extremely common part of being human. Unfortunately, women are more likely to experience stretch marks than any other gender. It also doesn't help that society has deemed stretch marks "ugly". Oh the joys of being a woman!
This blog will be your guide to understanding what stretchmarks are, what causes them, how to prevent them, and how to minimize the appearance of this type of scar.
What exactly are stretch marks?
A stretch mark is a type of scar that exists when the body stretches or shrinks too quickly. They look like white or purple streaks in the skin and can be found on the butt, inside the thighs, around breasts, arms, and the stomach. Stretch marks can appear during pregnancy, especially if you're young; loss or gain of body weight too quickly; during a growth spurt; rapid gain of muscle while heavy weight lifting; medication side effects, and more. Even if you don't partake in any of these, you can still get stretch marks. Yay!
Bottom line, stretch marks are common and can creep up on your body without you even noticing. Even if you're in the best shape and health, you can still be prone to stretch marks, so how do we prevent them?
Can anything prevent stretch marks?
Researchers have discovered that treatments like cocoa butter, oil, vitamin E, and other stretch mark creams claiming to prevent or reverse stretch marks don't actually work. But, there are still some things you can do to help prevent further stretch marks. The skin holds elements like collagen (helps keep the skin firm) and elastin fibers that are able to stretch many times their own length, and snap back to their original length when relaxed. The stronger these elements are, the less likely they are to break and cause stretch marks.
Per the American Pregnancy Association, eating foods high in zinc, silica, and Vitamin C help your body form collagen. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect tissue from damage. B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin) are said to be great for promoting and maintaining healthy skin.
Did you know that about 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Water helps the skin by a number of things, including improvement of skin tone, premature aging, faster healing, reduction of puffiness, prevention of acne, tighter skin, gut health, and a ton more. Being dehydrated can lead to Transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which damages the skin barrier. Barrier damage causes premature ageing and other skin issues like frequent acne breakout, extreme dryness, etc. AKA dehydration is the root of all evil. Being hydrated can help prevent deep stretch marks.
Exercise helps with body circulation, which keeps the skin elastic and helps with stretching as your skin grows. In addition to increasing circulation, exercise can improve sleep patterns, limit mood swings, boost energy levels, and can help with self-image.
The most amazing skin treatment for locking in hydration on your skin! Hyaluronic acid helps retain moisture in your skin and can reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Research has shown that using hyaluronic acid on fresh stretch marks over about 8 weeks can visibly reduce the scar.
Okay, but what gets rid of stretch marks?
Sorry to say, but nothing can really get rid of stretch marks. There are a few things that can minimize the appearance of them, but these scars are something you will have to accept. I like to think of mine as proof that I live and grow, I like to think they give my body character, that they're beautiful. But sometimes I wish they weren't there...which brings me to some procedures that the very capable PA's at our amazing Medspa can do to minimize your stretch marks!
I'm sure you've already heard of this, but if not allow me to explain. Radio-Frequency Microneedling is a non-invasive procedure that stimulates your body to produce collagen. The procedure punctures your skin with tiny needles, triggering a healing response to the area. When this happens, your body sends healing agents, like collagen and metalloproteinases to repair the cells, which are responsible for the removal of old tissue and deposition of new dermal tissue. The radio frequency emitted is energy that stimulates collagen production and revitalizes your skin from the inside out. Results are gradual, but skin tightening doesn't happen overnight. To read more about RF Microneedling, click here.
Here is a before (top) and after (bottom) of only one treatment of RF Microneedling.
Although chemical peels are not our first choice to minimizing visibility of stretch marks, they can aid in the process. Chemical peels are a type of skin treatment where an acidic solution is applied directly to the skin to burn off the first few layers of skin. The process removes dead and damaged skin cells and triggers the body's skin regeneration process. Peels are beneficial for acne and acne scars, sun damage, age spots, freckles, and stretch marks.
Tretinoin, a retinol, is commonly prescribed and used on stretch marks for reduction of appearance. In one study, people who applied this prescription cream on their stretch marks every night for 24 weeks had less noticeable stretch marks. The group that didn't saw an increase in the scars.
The one and only gel with proven clinical efficacy to work on stretch marks - and we sell it! In a study done on 303 patients, 88% reported improvement of color, 86% reported reduction in visibility, and 83% reported reduction in itchiness. Furthermore, in the control group (not using the product), 61% of patients developed stretchmarks, while only 18% of patients in the test group (using Stratamark) developed stretch marks. To read more about the product, click here.
Stretch marks are normal and common to have. Let's change the narrative and see them as proof of life, something beautiful, natural, and indifferent.
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Stretch Marks: Why they appear and how to get rid of them. American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/scars-stretch-marks/stretch-marks-why-appear
What can be done to prevent stretch marks? American Pregnancy Association. (2021, December 9). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-concerns/prevent-pregnancy-stretchmarks/
Khona, M. (2022, January 21). 10 benefits of water for great skin + how much should you drink per day? SkinKraft. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://skinkraft.com/blogs/articles/benefits-of-drinking-water-for-skin
Chemical Peels: Effectiveness with Marks. StretchMarks.org. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.stretchmarks.org/chemical-peels/