Stretch marks, also called striae, happen when your skin changes shape rapidly due to growth or weight gain. They aren’t a sign that anything is wrong with your health. Both men and women can get stretch marks.
Pregnancy and puberty are the two most common times in life to get stretch marks. At first, a stretch mark will appear as a thin red or purple line on your skin that takes on a different texture than the surrounding skin layer.
Eventually, most stretch marks fade and take on a lighter or almost translucent coloring, and become shiny.
Getting rid of stretch marks in a completely natural way isn’t likely. They’re a type of scarring that rarely fades enough to become invisible. However, there are some remedies that can help minimize the appearance of stretch marks and help them to fade more quickly.
Newer, red-tinged stretch marks (striae rubra) are easier to treat. They appear red because blood vessels are present under the skin. The presence of functioning blood vessels allows red stretch marks to be more responsive to treatment.
White stretch marks (striae alba) are older and more difficult to treat. Over time, your blood vessels will narrow, making it hard to stimulate collagen production. Treatment results may not be as drastic compared to those of red stretch marks, but there are options available to help them fade more naturally and at a faster pace.
Stretch marks are scars or disfiguring lesions. They are also called striae, striae distensae (SD), striae atrophicans, and striae gravidarum. The most common areas affected include:
Stretch marks are not physically dangerous but can cause problems with self-image and anxiety. For some people, stretch marks are a significant cosmetic concern that can affect day-to-day living.
Pregnancy: Between 50 and 90 percent of women who are pregnant experience stretch marks during or after birth.
Puberty: Rapid growth is typical in young people going through puberty. This can lead to stretch marks.
Rapid weight gain: Putting on a lot of weight in a short span of time can cause stretch marks.
Medical conditions: Certain conditions can cause stretch marks, such as Marfan syndrome and Cushing's syndrome. Marfan syndrome can lead to decreased elasticity in the skin tissue, and Cushing's syndrome can lead the body to produce too much of a hormone that leads to rapid weight gain and skin fragility.
Corticosteroid use: Prolonged use of corticosteroid creams and lotions can decrease levels of collagen in the skin. Collagen strengthens and supports the skin, and a reduced amount can increase the risk of stretch mark.
Stretch marks cannot always be prevented. However, the following steps may help to reduce the risk: Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid yo-yo dieting.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Consuming a suitable amount of vitamins A and C can help support the skin, as well as the minerals zinc and silicon.
- Aim for slow and gradual weight gain during pregnancy.
- Drink six to eight glasses of water every day.
1. Exfoliate: A simple way to treat white stretch marks is through regular exfoliation. This removes excess dead skin from your body and new skin from your stretch marks. Exfoliating alongside other treatment methods can also enhance your results. Removing dead skin from your stretch marks allows other skin treatments to penetrate more deeply and work faster.
2. Topical treatments: Topical creams and ointments are more affordable methods for reducing the appearance of white stretch marks. Some creams are available over-the-counter, while others are prescribed by a doctor. Applied regularly, topical creams can lighten the tone of stretch marks but they may not completely remove them. Before using any topical treatment, discuss your risks with your doctor. Some creams can trigger an allergic reaction or may not be strong enough to treat your condition.
3. Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion is a painless procedure to reduce the appearance of white stretch marks. This procedure targets the upper layer of skin (epidermis), and works by stimulating the skin to tighten collagen and elastin fibers.In the procedure, tiny exfoliating crystals are sprayed onto the affected area or a special tipped wand is rubbed over the area. Using a wand-like device, the crystals are gently removed, taking with them dead skin from the epidermis layer. For effective results, microdermabrasion needs to be repeated over a period of time.After the procedure, your skin may feel tight and dry. There may be some redness from the exfoliation. It typically takes 24 hours for your skin to heal. Though effective, this procedure isn’t guaranteed to fully remove stretch marks. The severity of your stretch marks will influence your results.
4. Microneedling: Microneedling targets the dermis, the middle layer of your skin where stretch marks form. Within this procedure, tiny needles are poked into your skin to trigger collagen production. Increased collagen and elastin promotes skin regeneration that can improve your skin’s appearance and reduce stretch marks.To effectively treat stretch marks, you’ll need to participate in more than one treatment over a course of months. Microneedling has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing stretch marks, specifically for patients with darker skin.
5. Laser therapy: Laser therapy is a common treatment option to remove white stretch marks. In the procedure, lasers penetrate the skin, triggering regeneration. This stimulates the tissues around your stretch marks to heal at a faster rate. Laser therapy stimulates melanin production on the affected area, activating pigment cells in your skin. This causes your stretch marks to blend in with your normal skin tone. Though effective, laser therapy requires more than one session to notice results.There are a number of different laser therapies used to treat stretch marks and other skin issues. Discuss your options with your dermatologist.
Chemical peels are generally used on the face for treating wrinkles and age spots, but they can be used on other areas of the body for stretch mark removal.
Peels are used to peel off the top layers of the damaged, dead skin and encourages skin regeneration.
Type and strength of chemicals used for treatment may vary according to your level of stretch mark being treated, but there are three main types that exist today.
Alpha-hydroxy acid – burns off only the topmost layer of skin
Glycolic acid – burns off both the top and middle layers of skin
Phenol and TCA peel: the deepest chemical peel of all, and requires only one treatment for full effectiveness.You may experience stinging or burning pain during treatment,and the recovery period depends on your skin type and the strength of the chemicals used.
Multiple treatments may be required for optimal result.
Keep in mind that chemical peel may not remove stretch marks completely;
however, it will significantly fade away stretch marks and result in smoother, healthier, more youthful looking skin.
7. Red Light Therapy:
Red light therapy uses infrared light to treat stretch marks.
It will penetrate deep into the skin to enhance cellular activity and increase blood supply to the skin’s surface resulting in regeneration of skin cells.
It also promotes the production of fibroblasts and collagen that aids in the repairing and preventing skin damages.
It also carries several other therapeutic benefits, such as improving the skin’s appearance and structure, treating psoriasis, and pain relief.
Infrared light is beamed onto the stretch marks. The power of beams lessens the severity of the scars caused by stretch marks, smoothening and flattening their appearance.
Multiple sessions may be necessary to see an improvement of 20 to 60%.One stunning advantage of this treatment is that the results are permanent though you may need some follow-up maintenance treatments.
It also stimulates collagen and elastin production, improving skin regeneration.
You may also notice enhanced blood circulation, reduced inflammation and improved lymphatic drainage.
8. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP):
Platelet Rich Plasma contains highly concentrated amount of signal proteins which consists of platelets, white blood cells, and adult stem cells.
Injection of PRP to the damaged site will help generate the production of collagen and elastin, triggering skin repair.
It is often accompanied with Micro-Needling to support healing and rejuvenation in the underlying dermis as well as treating the surface layer of the skin.
Consistent treatments will allow your skin to to become tauter and smoother.