What are stretch marks and where do they come from
Stretch marks (they are also striae) are not too pretty purple, pink or white winding stripes on the skin. They are not striking, but create an uneven tone. Because of this, the skin even on the most toned tummy or perfected hips looks loose and flabby.
Stretch marks appear when one or another part of the body rapidly increases in volume. For whatever reason. Here are the most common ones:
- pregnancy and the accompanying growth of the abdomen;
- breastfeeding – there are often cases when the bust becomes larger by 1-3 sizes;
- sharp weight gain;
- excessive bodybuilding, due to which the muscles are rapidly increasing in size;
- the rapid growth spurt that some adolescents experience during puberty;
- regular use of drugs containing corticosteroids (they are used, for example, in Itsenko-Cushing’s disease or Marfan’s syndrome).
Normally, collagen and elastin are responsible for the skin’s ability to stretch and contract. But if for any reason (hormonal, genetic, etc.) these proteins are not enough, problems begin.
The middle layer of the skin – the dermis – simply tears apart, like a paper bag that is being pulled over a larger item. The tears are closed with connective tissue. As a result, atrophic scars are formed. They are called stretch marks.
As with any scar, it is almost impossible to permanently get rid of stretch marks. Affected skin, penetrated by areas of connective tissue, will never return to its original state. But the right care and some procedures can make striae almost invisible.
How to remove stretch marks
In theory, stretch marks can be overcome at home. True, this applies only to the so-called fresh stretch marks. You can recognize them by their color – pink, lilac, sometimes red-violet. For these shades, the blood vessels are responsible, with which only the formed scar tissue is penetrated.
But gradually the vessels empty, the scars brighten and eventually, usually after 6–12 months, turn into old stretch marks.
In old striae, the pigment melanin is not produced, so they do not change their whitish color even with tanning.
No homemade gadgets work on old stretch marks. The scar tissue has finally formed, and now it can be removed only by professional methods. Let’s figure out all the available methods in more detail.
How to get rid of stretch marks at home
A variety of ointments, creams, gels are sold in pharmacies that promise to get rid of stretch marks. However, there is no strong evidence that these cosmetics help.
Nevertheless, in some cases, home care is effective, so it makes sense to start the fight against stretch marks with it. In order not to be disappointed in cosmetic procedures, keep in mind several important points:
- Use the product of your choice on early stretch marks. He certainly won’t help mature people.
- It is not enough to apply ointment or cream to the skin – they must be massaged properly.
- Massage enhances the effect of medical cosmetics.
- Use your chosen remedy every day for at least several weeks. It may take 2-3 months before the result appears.
Here are a few remedies that scientists believe can help.
- Creams and ointments with retinoids
Retinoids (adapalene, tretinoin) are active substances that increase collagen production and accelerate skin regeneration. In one study, people applied tretinoin to their skin every night for 24 weeks. After this period, it turned out that stretch marks became much less noticeable than in the control group who did not use any means.
Attention! If you are pregnant, be sure to check with your doctor. Retinoid medications can harm the unborn child.
- Products with hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is also thought to be able to stimulate collagen production. Sometimes creams and ointments based on it are really able to make striae more invisible, give the skin a more uniform shade.
- Means based on centella asiatica
Centella oil is one of the base oils in Ayurveda. And it really has beneficial properties. In particular, centella also causes the skin to produce more collagen. There is some evidence that products based on oil or centella extract visually smooth stretch marks.
- Products based on almond oil
Bitter almond oil has been shown to help prevent new stretch marks. For example, one study showed that women who massaged their abdomen with almond oil during pregnancy ended up with significantly fewer stretch marks than their colleagues in position who did not use oil or applied it without massage.
But scientists are not sure about the ability of almond oil to cope with existing stretch marks: more or less convincing evidence of this has not yet been found. However, they were not particularly looking for them. So it makes sense to give it a try: you may be lucky.
- Means based on cocoa, shea, olive, coconut and others
Popular for stretch marks, these products are powerful moisturizers. They soften the skin, make it fuller and more dense. The moisture-infused epidermis can partly mask the underlying connective tissue.
However, there are no studies that would prove the unequivocal anti-sharp effect of cocoa butter, shea butter and others.
How to get rid of stretch marks with professional methods
If the home methods did not help, or we are talking about old stretch marks, which massages and rubbing in creams can no longer cope with, you will have to go to a cosmetologist or dermatologist. You will most likely be prompted for one of the following procedures.
- Laser therapy
The laser vaporizes some of the cells of the scar tissue, and at the same time forces the skin to increase collagen synthesis. As a result, new, young and healthy skin is formed over deep stretch marks, which can hide stretch marks underneath.
- Chemical peeling
A product containing one or another concentrated acid will be applied to the skin. Peeling, like a laser, will dissolve some of the scar tissue and stimulate the growth of healthy skin.
We are talking about mechanical resurfacing of the damaged area of the skin with a special device with a rotating circular nozzle. The effect is approximately the same as that of laser therapy and chemical peels.
- Various injection methods
The doctor will inject drugs under the skin that enhance collagen synthesis and increase the moisture level of the skin, which will make it denser and stretch marks underneath less noticeable.
- Minor surgical intervention
This is the most expensive and radical, but also the most reliable way. The stretch marks are simply removed. If it was small, the surgeon will apply a cosmetic suture, which after a while will dissolve almost without a trace. If the stretch marks cover a large area, the doctor will transplant a skin flap here from another part of the body.
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