There are many skin issues a person can encounter over a lifetime, some of them easily resolved, and others that are near impossible to fix. One of the latter are stretch marks. Stretch marks, which inconveniently effect between 40 – 90 % of women, are scars that appear on the dermal layer of the skin due to a number of factors both in and out of our control. The appearance and depth of stretch marks will vary in intensity and can appear on multiple places on the body.
It’s safe to say that with stretch marks, very little is constant. Genetic factors, lifestyle, and diet are all factors in whether one person will get stretch marks over the next. One thing that remains true, regardless of where the stretch marks are located, how they got there, or what they look like, many people who have stretch marks are looking for ways to remove or reduce their appearance. But before you jump to purchasing the first expensive stretch marks cream you see on the shelves, you need a solid understanding of stretch marks, how they work, and a realistic idea of how to get rid of them.
What are Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are such a common term in our society, one we’ve been using to identify the marks of growing since puberty. However, many people are still truly unsure of what exactly stretch marks are and how they came to get them. To put it simply, stretch marks are scars that occur when the skin is stretched beyond its limits over an extended period of time or at a fast pace. The most common periods of time that stretch marks develop are during puberty when adolescent bodies undergo rapid growth, pregnancy where the body is stretched to accommodate a growing human, and quick weight gain where a person gains a considerable amount of weight in a short window of time. What is happening during these periods of stretching is, the skin’s natural structure begins to deteriorate. Collagen and elastin, which are key proteins in the skin, begin to decline. And the result is this deep scarring that for all intents and purposes, occurs from the inside out.
As for their appearance, the look of stretch marks will vary from person to person. Generally, stretch marks look like long lines or streaks of varying shades. Sometimes stretch marks are transparent in appearance while other times they can appear red, purple, or even brown. You’ll typically find stretch marks in areas like the thighs, especially the sides leading to and on the buttocks. Stretch marks are often common in places like the abdomen, breasts, and even hips. While all of these places are more specific to women, a considerable amount of men encounter stretch marks at some period of their life as well.
How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks
If you’ve found yourself dealing with the frustration of stretch marks, chances are you’ve asked the question: How to get rid of stretch marks? As much as we’d love to tell you there’s a magic stretch marks cream that will work overnight or a breakthrough stretch mark removal procedure that be done in a cinch, the reality is, stretch marks are one of the most difficult skin conditions to resolve. The cold hard truth is there are very few products that can significantly reduce the appearance of stretch marks let alone completely remove them. That being said there are still countless stretch marks creams and other products that promise to diminish the appearance stretch marks. If you chose to try a stretch mark cream, knowledge is essential to know if you have a shot at improving the appearance of your stretch marks or if you’re simply throwing money down the drain.
When it comes to stretch marks creams, their effectiveness can be found in the ingredients. While few things have been clinically proven to get rid of stretch marks there are some ingredients that are naturally more promising than others. Tretinoin cream, which is also known as retinoic acid, is a common ingredient found in many of the best stretch marks cream. Retinoic acid is used to help restore collagen in the skin which can, in theory, soften the appearance of stretch marks. Some studies have reported the use of a tretinoin stretch marks cream have reported improvements between 4 – 20% in length and width. If you do decide to use a retinoic acid stretch mark cream, be advised they should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Aside from stretch mark creams, there is also a host of natural based ingredients and products that have laid claim to improving or reducing the appearance of stretch marks as well. To ensure all of our bases are covered, let’s go over those. Some of the most frequently used stretch marks products are things like cocoa butter which many expecting mothers apply to reduce the chances of stretch marks appearing during pregnancy. Shea butter is another common product used to both prevent stretch marks from occurring as well as treating existing stretch marks. Both olive oil and bitter almond oil have been used by pregnant women, massaged into skin on a daily basis to help prevent an onset of stretch marks. While all of these products and ingredients undoubtedly have a number of positive benefits to the skin, unfortunately, none of them have been proven to actually reduce the chances of getting stretch marks or treating stretch marks that do appear.
Other Methods of Stretch Mark Removal
For those of us who have tried a stretch marks cream and weren’t pleased, the next step is undergoing a cosmetic procedure to correct stretch marks. Depending on the severity of the stretch marks, there are various methods that may prove to bring the success you desire. Of said procedures, one of the most successful and popular is a laser therapy procedure. With laser therapy, targeted and specific wavelengths are directed to help revive collagen and elastin production. With both Intense Pulsed Light laser therapy as well as Pulse Dye Laser therapy, there have been significant reductions in the size, appearance, and depth of stretch marks after multiple laser therapy sessions.
Another popular stretch mark removal procedure is microdermabrasion. This procedure has also resulted in some pretty significant improvements in the appearance of stretch marks. The way that microdermabrasion works is by gently removing the top layer of skin through a vacuum and polishing process, subsequently regenerating skin cells and promoting new growth.
Ultimately, getting stretch marks is a very common part of the aging process. While your personal preference may be to attack visible stretch marks at every chance you get, unlike many other skin conditions, stretch marks are simply cosmetic and not harmful. If you find that you simply can not deal with stretch marks, do your homework, and don’t fall for stretch marks creams that promise quick and easy results. And as a last resort, your dermatologist may be able to help you with more options to say goodbye to stretch marks for good.