Stretch Marks

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What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are skin scars that form when the skin is stretched too quickly like in pregnancy and rapid fat or muscle gain. Stretch marks may be red, purple, or white in color. The key to treating stretch marks is to hydrate the skin and provide it with the nutrients it needs to progress through the healing stages.

Stretch marks appear first as pink lines perpendicular to the direction of skin stretch. They then progress into a more reddish purple color and finally turn white. White stretch marks are not only lighter than the surrounding skin but have a different texture, making them stand out. The site of the stretch marks may be prone to itching as it goes through the stages.  Stretch marks are common on the breasts, thighs, buttocks, outer thighs, hips, belly and back.

Causes of Stretch Marks

  • Excessive sudden growth and/or weight gain, including muscle mass
  • Hormonal changes, as in during pregnancy
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Biological factors such as the quality and quantity of collagen production
  • Stretch Marks and Pregnancy

    Stretch marks are common during pregnancy not only because of the rapidly growing baby, but also the weight gain that most pregnant women experience. Following these preventative measure will help reduce the severity of stretch marks during pregnancy:

  • Use moisturizer daily, especially on the belly, breasts and back
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Watch your weight gain
  • Learn more about stretch marks during pregnancy.

    Treatment for Stretch Marks

    There are many treatments for stretch marks. Some treatments can even be done at home. The type of treatment and whether it can be done at home depends largely on the type of stretch mark you are going to treat. Fresh stretch marks with a reddish tint can be successfully treated at home, while thick, white stretch marks need specialized treatment that is either not safe or too impractical to do at home.

    Stretch marks are usually treated by hydrating them with nutrient rich creams and lotions in order to assist the skin’s natural healing process, especially when they are in the colored stages. Laser treatments and carboxytherapy can help reduce the appearance of white stretch marks.

    Red Stretch Marks

    Red, pink, or purple stretch marks are newly formed, and so are still undergoing tissue repair. Healing them involves boosting this tissue repair by increasing cell turnover through exfoliation as well as providing the nutrients that the skin needs for optimal regeneration.

  • Skin exfoliation: Exfoliating promotes the formation of new skin through the removal of the surface layer of old, dead skin. This increased turnover of cells helps with the natural tissue reconstruction that is occurring within the red stretch mark.

  • Stretch mark creams: Creams for stretch marks promote healing by keeping the skin hydrated and providing nutrients like vitamins A, C, D, and E that help with regeneration of tissue. The rubbing motion of applying the cream to the scar helps promote circulation, which is also helpful for making the red stretch mark fade.
  • The best way to promote healing of red stretch mark is to not only moisturize your skin, but massaging the areas with stretch marks. This massage will help promote healing by stimulating circulation to the site of the stretch mark. It will also help skin remain elastic by reducing thick scarring. A scar gel with silicone may be applied to reduce the redness of the stretch marks as well.

    Some tips to prevent red stretch marks:

  • Avoid very hot baths, as they dry out the skin
  • Drink plenty of water to ensure proper hydration of the skin
  • Don't use harsh detergent based soaps on your skin
  • Apply moisturizer after shower to lock in moisture before it can escape
  • White Stretch Marks

    White stretch marks are a type of scarring of the skin caused by stretching of the skin when the body expands too quickly because of weight gain or pregnancy. White stretch marks are the final stage of stretch marks that may start off as pink, red, or purple.

    In contracts to the gentle methods used to treat red stretch marks, treatments for white stretch marks need to be a lot more intense to work. While red stretch mark treatments promote healing, white stretch mark treatments induce trauma to the targeted area in order to break up scar tissue, promote skin reconstruction, and blend the stretch mark with surrounding skin.

    Treatments like chemical peels and lasers are often used for white stretch marks. They work by exfoliating skin and destroying the top layer of skin cells resulting in the formation of new cells and production of collagen that blends the stretch marks with the surrounding tisue. A less destructive method for treating them is carboxytherapy.

    The following treatments have been proven effective for white stretch marks:

  • DermaRoller: A roller with needles imbedded into it is rolled across the scar, with the needles penetrating the epidermis to break down the scar and promote the formation of new collagen and elastin. Treatment is priced from $120 to $400. In home treatments may be possible.

  • Carboxytherapy : A procedure that applies multiple injections of CO2 directly into the marks, increasing blood circulation in the area and promoting tissue reconstruction. Price: $150-$500 per session.

  • Laser: Laser scar treatments burn off the top layer of skin off in order to promote its regeneration. The regenerated tissue is smoother and blends more with surrounding skin. Price: $200 to $400 per session.

  • Acid peels: Like a laser treatment they destroy the top layer of skin in order to stimulate new tissue formation. Price: $150 to $600 per session

  • Microdermabrasion: It is a physical removal of the top layers of skin, which like other treatments is meant to smooth out scars and promote new tissue formation. Price: $100-$250 per session.
  • The treatments above can be performed by dermatologists, estheticians and specialized physiotherapists.

    Helpful Tips for Treating White Stretch Marks:

  • Moisturize skin thoroughly
  • Avoid very hot and prolonged baths
  • Avoid harsh drying soaps
  • Use quality moisturizers daily after bathes or showers
  • Drink plenty of water
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