It is often said that stretch marks are nature's badge of achievement. They showcase that you have experienced morning sickness and childbirth, spent long hours in the gym to lose weight or ate your heart out and not even cared about the extra calories. Everyone has a different story to tell!

Meanwhile, the “stretch mark acceptance movement” which has taken the pop culture by storm where the rappers croon about loving a woman with stretch marks and a few brands taking the initiative to stop photoshopping out the stretch marks on the celebrities and models. But somehow stretch marks are still a matter of concern for many. There are various effective remedies and treatments available that can help to diminish the appearance of stretch marks.  The following information can help you a lot to lessen and diminish stretch marks appearance. 

Stretch marks are medically termed as striae distensae. Stretch marks generally appear as red or purple marks on the skin, and then slowly they start fading and convert into white or silver color marks with time. The difference in color differentiates them into old and new marks. New or red-colored are the ones that can be treated comparatively very easy. They are initially red because blood vessels are present just beneath the skin. As the blood vessels are present just below skin. so it is easy to treat them because they are more responsive. Whereas white stretch marks are old and are generally more difficult to treat. This is because with time blood vessels becomes narrow, thus making it difficult to stimulate collagen production in response to treatments. Therefore treatment options are less, and they are difficult to treat. 

How does one get stretch marks?

The skin is composed of 3 layers: Epidermis (outermost layer), Dermis (middle layer), and Hypodermis (deepest layer). Stretch marks are formed in the middle layer, the dermis. As the body growth occurs or when the skin is stretched beyond its elastic limit due to various reasons, the collagen which is the cementing material of dermis is damaged or destroyed leading to the formation of stretch marks.

The factors that cause stretch marks:

1. Puberty: The child is constantly growing in size; it is called growth spurt. This cause girls to get stretch marks around the breasts and hips and boys around the thighs and arms.

2. Pregnancy: As the belly area enlarges to accommodate the growing baby, the skin over the abdomen is stretched, giving rise to stretch marks.  During pregnancy, the hormones are erratic, and some of them also increase the likelihood of stretch marks.

3. Heredity: Having a family history can predispose the occurrence of stretch marks.

4. Weight fluctuation: Rapid weight gain or weight loss also cause stretch marks.

5. Corticosteroids: These are often used in the form of OTC fairness creams, steroid injections for bodybuilding, and pills. This can give rise to stretch marks by making the skin thin and decreasing the skins ability to stretch.

6. Medical conditions: Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan’s syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are some of the medical conditions which can also cause stretch marks as they increase the level of cortisone in the body.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure:

1. Slow weight loss: Chose a diet or exercise plan that promotes gradual weight loss.

2. Diet: Eat foods that encourage collagen production. Some healthy low-fat foods that encourage collagen production include fish red, green vegetables, and citrus fruits.

3. Moisturizing: Apply moisturizing creams with hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and olive oil while losing weight, reduces the chances of the occurrence of stretch marks.

4. Home remedies: Researchers have found no results for  stretch marks removal with home remedies.

5. Treatment: Like any other scar, stretch marks are permanent, but the right treatment can make them less noticeable. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor before treating stretch marks as some creams contain retinol which can harm your baby.

Treating stretch marks at an early stage can give promising results and little effect on the mature stretch marks.

a. Alleviate the itch: Itching can aggravate the redness and worsen the stretch marks. Apply coconut oil for the itching and consult your dermatologist for medications.

b. Anti-stretch mark creams: Massage the product gently into the stretch marks for superior results. Apply the product for months to see visible results, however topical medication show the least effect on the old stretch marks

c. The procedures performed by dermatologists:

i) Chemical peels: They help in removing dead and damaged skin cells and triggers skin regeneration.

ii) Plasma Induction Therapy: It is effective in treating newer stretch marks. A sterile roller is used, which causes micro-injuries in the skin by creating tiny holes with micro needles. This activates the healing mechanism of the body. It heals open wounds by propelling collagen production that improves the scar, texture, and elasticity of the skin. Plasma rich in platelets and growth factors when infused with micro needling boosts collagen production and helps in improving the skin texture. Growth factors also hydrate the skin and leads to smoother texture and healthier skin.

iii) Pixigenus Laser: Latest in non-ablative and fractional laser technology. This creates a pattern of tiny microscopic wounds surrounded by undamaged tissue. The micro beams penetrate deep in the skin resulting in re-growth of cells and collagen remodelling. Unlike traditional non-ablative laser, it does not remove the complete skin layer.  It creates selective small perforations in the skin leaving surrounding tissue intact, thus reduces the downtime of treatment and helps the skin to heal faster as epidermis regenerates. The micro-injuries created during the procedure will start the healing process as collagen remodels, skin tightens, and texture improves. This protocol is completely safe. During treatment, the patient can feel mild heat sensation for about a couple of hours and thereafter virtually no discomfort at all.

iv) Neoclone  Laser: This involves thermo-mechanical energy. It vaporizes channels in the skin. As a result, new collagen is produced that effectively treats active acne scars. These channels are also useful to deliver a cocktail of serums and plasma to the deeper layer of skin and yield faster and effective collagen production with faster healing.

v) Microneedling Radiofrequency: This technique is the most advanced and unique as it is useful in treating the most old and challenging stretch marks. It can be used in patients with pigmented and tanned skin. It provides with less downtime and better compliance. Extremely tiny insulated needles are introduced in the skin and radiofrequency heats the dermis. This leads to collagen production and skin rejuvenation. This is one of the best treatments as it provides with minimal downtime and best results. It can be performed with PRP to achieve more beneficial results. 

Always consult your dermatologist for the best advice.

Keep Healthy! Keep Glowing!