Stretch Marks What Are They And Can We Get Rid Of Them

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Stretch Marks : What Are They And Can We get Rid Of Them

Stretch marks

Stretch marks are one of the most common issues affecting our skin – in fact it was revealed that in the US alone, over 80% of Americans have stretch marks.

Medical name “Striae Disensae”, stretch marks are common in both women and to a lesser degree men too.

This article is gong to delve into the background behind them and the various methods of fading them.

What Are Stretch Marks And Where Do They Come From?

Its most likely that you first noticed a stretch mark or two during puberty. Alongside acne, growth of new body hair and an irrational temperament we also had stripy skin to deal with as well.

Puberty is one of the most common times for us to develop stretch marks, its the time when we can really grow quickly, and its during those times that our skin can develop stretch marks.

Basically its all about the speed and the amount of the growth. The skin is naturally very elastic, but when we grow at a faster than normal rate, its normal production of collagen can be disrupted. This effects the various layers of our skin – the outer layer (the epidermis) and the second layer (The dermis). 

The dermis contains blocks or bundles of collagen, which are pulled or stretched when the skin grows or stretches quickly. 

The torn bundles separate from the main areas of collagen and when the skin stops stretching (or growing) these torn bundles of collagen are often visible through the epidermis – giving you that distinct ‘tiger stripe’ look of stretch marks.

There are two main times in our lives when we can grow rather quickly and these are the most common times for getting stretch marks – puberty and pregnancy.

The most common areas affected are the breasts, thighs, buttocks, and hips, both are subject to rapid changes during both these times in our lives.

They can also develop in cases of fast weight gain too – and I don’t just mean if you have got fatter, for instance bodybuilders who put on a lot of muscle quickly can also develop stretch marks, their skin stretching faster than its usual cycle as the muscles quickly increase in mass.

man with stretch marks on arms

As you have probably realised after my last comment above, men can also develop stretch marks, sure they don’t have the same bodily processes to deal with as us women ( pregnancy for instance) and they are less likely to get them but around 40% of men do have them in varying degrees.

They tend to get them on their upper arms, thighs, backs and buttocks.

Why Do Some People Get More Stretch Marks Than Others

It is something as simple as having a thicker skin – and I don’t mean that as it sounds, If you have a physically thicker layer of skin, it tends to have more elasticity, and therefore you are less lily to develop stretch marks. 

Those with darker skin or someone who is a tanning addict could be more at risk of developing those tiger stripes, its well recognised that UV exposure can make stretch marks worse.

The thing to so is to make sure you always use a good sunscreen.

Another cause can be ‘Cushings Syndrome’, a condition that exposes your body to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

This can promote the increased production of the natural oil in the skin called Sebum, accelerating the ageing process this can lead to more lines, wrinkles and the appearance of stretch marks.

Medicated creams that contain hydrocortisone can, especially when used for long periods of time, encourage the appearance of stretch marks, the same can be said for oral steroids too.

This means that people with Asthma, arthritis and in fact anybody receiving steroid type drugs for other health conditions could be more at risk of developing stretch marks.

If you are concerned about this, make an appointment and talk it over with your doctor – do not stop the medication on your own.

stretch marks on tummy

The Appearance Of Stretch Marks

In their early stages, stretch marks can be a darker red or purplish collier, they can also feel indented and textured rather like a scar resulting from an injury. In the early stages that can also be itchy too.

The reason for the darker colour at the start, is because when collagen tears, blood vessels can also be damaged, causing that bruising type look under the skin.

They do fade over time, and eventually transform into a whiter, silvery colour that can become almost invisible or only shine under bright light.

Can You Get Rid Of Stretch Marks

Lets get honest here – you cannot completely get rid of stretch marks, BUT YOU CAN reduce their appearance, making them far less noticeable.

There are a number of topically applied treatments available the market, ingredients like cocoa butter, shea, almond oil, vItamin E.

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applying stretch mark cream

You Can Also Try:

Laser Treatments: A seriously expensive treatment ( courses range from around $2000-6000).

A laser is applied to the skin, traumatising it and encouraging increase collagen production in the area, this can help smooth the skin, reducing that appearance of the stretch marks.

Microneedling: Performed using PRP ( Platelet Rich Plasma) the skin is punctured with fine short needles using a roller or other apparatus. This triggers the skins repair response, sending new collagen to the area, smoothing the area and reducing the appearance of stretch marks. 

The PRP liquid is a growth factor that helps to reduce both skin inflammation and reduce the appearance of wounds, scarring etc.

Costs can vary but expect to pay $1000-3000 for a course of treatments. Results can take time to appear, most users reckon around 2 months post treatment before you see an benefit.

Increasing Collagen

As collagen is key factor in the appearance of stretch marks, its feasible that by increasing your natural collagen production, you should be able to reduce their appearance. 

A good cream could help some women take collagen drinks or supplements to help bolster their collagen levels.

There Are Some Specific Ingredients That Can Help Improve Stretch Marks

There are a few really good ingredients that are known to help reduce the appearance of these tiger stripes. They can definitely make a difference, especially of you start treatment early on.

Look For:

Retinoids – Vitamin A derived products that help to rebuild collagen levels.

They help to bolster and thicken the collagen bundles responsible for stretch marks.  Their use can take time, and can cause skin dryness especially in the early days.

Vitamin E – especially good for treating scars and sunburn. Vitamin E signals the body’s cells, brining them them to areas of the skin that needs to be repaired. It can help bolster collagen fibres, and also act as an anti oxidant, reducing the fewest of harmful free radicals.

Embrace Your Stretch Marks

When push comes to shove, they are part of what makes you, well – YOU

You might look at the fashion ads in these magazines or on TV, and wish that you had perfect skin like the models used.

Well don’t forget, that these women have them too, the use of photoshop and other filters etc are commonplace.

Its refreshing to hear that several top fashion brands have stoped the use of photoshop in their adverts, ASOS being one and what about Victories Secret?,

Their latest advert for the Fantasy Bra features – yes you guessed it – Stretch Marks!.

vixtorias secret fantasy bra advert

If more brands like these got on the bandwagon and started embracing our flaws and imperfections, we would all be much happier.

I personally believe that if you can grow to love your tiger stripes, its defiantly the way to go, but I totally understand why some of us need to try and reduce their appearance.

Do you love or hate your stretch marks? How do you deal with them? I would Iove to hear your thoughts and comments below:

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The information in this website is for advice and guidance only. It is based on my own intensive research and personal experiences, and is not intended to replace professional medical advice, or to diagnose or treat any health conditions. All rights reserved.