What Are Stretch Marks?
The medical term for stretch marks is striae. The skin on the human body is made up of three layers which are the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous or hypodermis. Stretch marks are created when there is excessive stretching of the middle layer of skin or dermis over a short period of time that causes weakening of the elastic support tissue.
Even though the epidermis remains intact, atrophic scars or depressed streaks are formed that are initially a variation of pink, reddish brown, purple, or dark brown color depending on your skin color and later turn to a silvery white. They usually will fade over time.
This article will explore the causes of these unsightly stretch marks, steps you can take to possibly prevent or minimize them, and try to determine the best way to get rid of stretch marks. Some of these methods we will look at include laser treatments, plastic surgery, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and special creams.
Causes Of Stretch Marks
Even though stretch marks are normally associated with pregnancy,
they also may appear as a result of rapid growth spurts during
adolescence, rapid weight gain, Cushing's Syndrome, excessive use of
corticosteroids, heavy weight-lifting, bodybuilding, and obesity. They
may also be largely attributed to heredity and hormonal changes.
Both men and women can get stretch marks. They normally develop in an area of the body where fatty tissue can be prevalent such as the breasts, upper arms, shoulders, stomach, buttocks, hips, thighs, and lower back. Besides this article, there are many other sources on the web where you can find information on the best way to get rid of stretch marks.
Stretch Mark Photos
How To Prevent Stretch Marks
First of all, if you can prevent stretch marks, there is no need to find a treatment. Exercise keeps your body in peak condition and is one of the best ways to prevent stretch marks.
Start off the day with a nice walk, jog, or run to get the juices flowing. This will help to clean out the pores and let them breath - to let the skin naturally hydrate. Follow this up with a healthy breakfast to get the body metabolism going.
Eat a proper diet. Yes, no one is perfect and everyone deserves to treat themselves to a certain desert of their choice or even a greasy hamburger once in a while, but for the most part, try to stick to eating mostly nutritious foods. Do this not only to keep your skin healthy, but to keep the rest of your body healthy and to keep those dreaded extra pounds off as well. After all, rapid weight gain is one of the causes of stretch marks.
Make a concerted effort to eat at least four servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Try to avoid coffee or, better yet, switch to tea. Drink six to eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day. If you are exercising regularly, this is very easy to do.
I know most people like to indulge in an alcoholic beverage on occasion and actually a glass of wine during a meal can help the food digest better and contains some beneficial anti-oxidants, but don't overindulge and don't drink at all if you are on a prescribed medication or pregnant.
Never go out during the day unless you have applied a sunblock or sunscreen to your exposed skin. If you will be working out in the yard, playing golf or another outdoor sport, or doing any activity outdoors where you will be exposed to direct sunlight, wear large sunglasses with UV filters and a hat, cap, or bonnet to attempt to minimize the effect of the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Take a multivitamin daily or, If you are pregnant, be sure to take your prenatal vitamins. Eat baked, broiled, or grilled fish two to three times a week. If you don't like fish, take an Omega-3 or Omega-6 supplement along with your daily vitamins.
Remember to keep the skin hydrated as much as possible. Use moisturizers that contain vitamins A and E and some combination of cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, and aloe. There are a number of other oils that are available and may be used as well. Revitol and TriLastin SR are a couple of commercial products available that contain a mixture of some of these ingredients.
It is recommended to follow the moisturizer with a cream that contains enzymes, silica, or collagen. Apply the moisturizers and creams several times during the day, right after taking a shower, and right before bedtime.
One last thing. Massaging the affected area can be an excellent way to remove dead skin cells, rejuvenate the skin, and induce collagen production.
How To Hide Stretch Marks
If you have stretch marks, your main goal will be to minimize or get rid of these unsightly scars. It can take some time to accomplish this, so naturally there will be times when you need to be able to cover up these areas. Here are some recommendations that can make life a little easier and lower the stress level:
The most obvious way to hide your stretch marks is by wearing clothes that will cover the affected area. No one will have a clue that you are hiding anything. You can even get creative with certain swimsuits and accessories to covertly accomplish your mission.
There may be times when clothing is not the answer to cover up the stretch marks. If you have some extra money laying around, then air brushing is a great way to cover up the marks. You can also get a spray tan at a beauty salon that offers these services.
If your budget is a little tighter, then you can cover up by applying a waterproof makeup foundation using a tone matched to your skin complexion. Other alternatives might include using a self tanning lotion or perhaps applying a bronze powder mixed with cocoa butter.
The best way to minimize the appearance of your stretch marks is through exercise. Stretch the affected area. Work the muscles and tone them up. These steps alone will produce impressive results.
Best Way To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks
Even though stretch marks do not impair the body's function, they are a cosmetic concern to those who have them. Some of the best ways to get rid of stretch marks include plastic surgery, laser surgery, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and stretch mark creams. They all may be effective to varying degrees depending on the depth of the marks. Even if a procedure does not produce the desired result, it should improve the appearance of the skin.
Let's take a look at these procedures.
Plastic Surgery For Stretch Marks
Scar revision surgery and tummy tucks can be performed by a dermatologist surgeon or plastic surgeon. During this procedure, the damaged skin is removed and the affected area is reconstructed using the remaining tissue to improve the appearance of the scarred skin.
This procedure is considered by many to be the one solution that gets the best results, however; there are some downsides. It is expensive, the recovery process can be painful and lengthy, and there is a chance of scarring.
Removing Stretch Marks With Laser Surgery
This procedure, also referred to as laser therapy for stretch marks, uses a pulsed-dye or fractionated laser to eliminate the reddish appearance of the stretch marks, stimulate collagen activity, and, to a lesser extent, regenerate elastin fiber.
The laser is aimed at the basin of the scar in the dermis layer of the skin where the energy is absorbed. The body sends collagen to this area to repair the damaged skin. New skin cells are then created that fill the stretch mark depression.
This procedure may be performed by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. The best results have been found when the procedure is done at the time the stretch marks first appear. It must be pointed out that laser treatments can cause hyperpigmentation when performed on darker skin types.
How To Remove Stretch Marks With Chemical Peels
For this procedure, a chemical solution is used to remove the damaged outer layers of dead skin cells from the skin surface and to stimulate the cells' regenerative process. There are different types of these chemical peels available. Most include either a glycolic or salicylic acid solution which may be applied at different strength levels.
This type of chemical peel can be performed by a plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or esthetician. It does not penetrate beyond the epidermis or papillary dermis layer of the skin. These peels are normally offered in a series of treatments.
Stretch Marks Removal With Microdermabrasion
This procedure can improve the appearance of the marks, reduce discoloration, smooth uneven surfaces, and stimulate the formation of new collagen and elastin. It can be performed by a plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or esthetician.
Microdermabrasion is a procedure where aluminum oxide crystals are sprayed on the surface of the skin while at the same time a vacuum-like suction is created which produces a light sanding or buffing of the skin surface while removing the dead skin cells.
This treatment produces a gentle resurfacing of the most superficial layer of the skin and softens and brightens the appearance of the treated skin. It normally needs to be repeated in a series of treatments to achieve the best results.
Microdermabrasion is most effective in the treatment of stretch marks during the early phases and when done in conjunction with a massage using some of the oils and creams previously mentioned in this article. If a large area must be treated, microdermabrasion can be rather costly and the results might not be optimal.
Stretch Marks Treatment With Creams
Certain topical creams can help renew collagen and elastin in damaged skin. Tretinoin cream, known by the trade name of Retin-A, and alpha-hydroxy acids may be prescribed by a dermatologist. They tend to have the same effect as a chemical peel and, when combined with steroid creams, have been successful in treating stretch marks.
Other over the counter creams that have proven to be effective are Strivectin, Revitol, TriLastin SR, and Elastin3. The success of the product varies according to the person using the product.
New Innovative Process In Clinical Trials
There is a new experimental process that was developed by a company named Isolagen and is currently in clinical trials in the United States. The process uses the patient's own fibroblasts to create a dermal filler. The filler is then injected into the stretch marks with the intent of smoothing the skin and ultimately improving its appearance.
A small biopsy is taken from an inconspicuous area on a person's body such as behind the ear. The tissue is sent to an Isolagen lab where the fibroblasts are harvested and used to produce many collagen cells that are then used to create the new Isolagen filler. This filler is sent back to the doctor who injects it into the desired area of the patient.
The grown collagen is genetically identical to the collagen presently inside the patient's body, which makes allergies or cross-reactions unlikely. Similarly, it is believed that the cultured collagen filler should be a more permanent solution than other fillers that have been tried since it shouldn't be rejected by the body.
The negative to this treatment is that it could prove to be quite costly. The biopsy and injection will need to be done by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon and the laboratory work will need to be performed by skilled scientists.
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kika on November 26, 2013:
I'm always said bcos of my stretchmark its very red nd I need atlist some tin dat can remove d redish into white am dying of tinking
Hasna on June 06, 2012:
Hi, i think mixing more than one cream for stretch marks together will give good result.
yvette gomolemo malebe on June 05, 2012:
I'm 21 and have stretch-marks for 3 years now, and they disgust me, i hate looking at my body.I tried so many things but nothing changed they just grow bigger and reddish.I just want to remove them and it doesn't matter if its going to take 5 years as long as they are going to be gone forever.(073 393 7039)
brandasaur from Planet X on March 23, 2012:
I feel so bad. I have nasty stretchmarks from a rapid weight gain. I was so depressed for a long while in the extent that i always cry because of it everyday. Then i got pregnant for two years in a row which gave me more stretchmarks. Now they are all white already. Thanks for this hub, it have the most complete info among the hubs ive read about stretchmarks. I might visit my doctor and ask about the Laser Surgery. :)
sadgirl on February 21, 2012:
Hi am 24 years and i have strech marks on my arms breast stomach i have put on weight, i wana get rid from it, i want to the the types of exercise i should do so that i get rid from them
Hime on August 05, 2011:
I am 18 and I have had stretch marks since I was 12. Its because of weight gain and adolescence. They are on my backside and go all the way down to my knees. I look like I was in a grizzly attack. Sadly I have had laser treatment twice now and it hasn't worked too well. Only on my upper thighs have they faded some. I will hopefully be getting my third treatment this month. While there I will ask about the other methods. I have never heard of some of them. To be quite honest they took a career path away from me. I have always wanted to be a model but now I cant. Hopefully they will fade soon.
manish on January 20, 2011:
i hav a mark on my cheecks,,it was caused by nail ,,itz so deep ,,will the mark go ,,,if yes tell me d soln,,i would b grateful
i understand on October 26, 2010:
dear upset, i totally understand... im also 15 (16 in a month) but i also have stretch marks. they bother me everyday and i feel like crying everyday cuz im embarassed to do normal things like go swimming etc. i have em on my butt and upper thighs (near butt). im also embarrassed o tell my mom or anything. but ive actually like sneaked to the drugstore near my house numerous times and spent my OWN money on things to treat them. nothings worked. i dont have the patience i guess. but i just wanna let u know i understand. & ur NOT alone. and i know u feel alone cuz i do too. but now i realized im not.
upset on September 03, 2010:
im 15 and i have stretch marks on my breasts and bum, i am embarrassed to tell anyone so i am unable to treat it. i dont want to show anyone and i am at that age where it is literally the end of the world! anyone have any advice please help, it would be much appreciated..
needamiracle on April 21, 2010:
I really wish that everyone either got them or didn't get them, doesn't seem fair, like life isn't tough enough, then you get stretch marks.