Whether you’ve lost a lot of weight, had a child, grown quickly (such as puberty), gained weight, or ever put on muscle; you’ve probably experienced them!
Stretch marks happen, and here’s the no-bs way to deal with them.
First of all, let’s discuss what a stretch mark is. A stretch mark is scarred indentation in your skin as a result of quick skin stretching and an increase of cortisone in your system. They can range from deep purple, to pink, when fresh and white/nude when old.
As a high amount of cortisone can cause stretch marks, those with Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and other adrenal gland disorders are more likely to develop stretch marks.
The skin consists of three key layers: epidermis (the outer layer), dermis (the middle layer) and subcutaneous or hypodermis (the deepest layer). Stretch marks form in the dermis when the connective tissue is “stretched” beyond the limits of its elasticity due to rapid expansion or contraction of the skin from sudden growth or weight gain.
The abrupt stretching causes the dermis to tear which allows deeper skin layers to show through, forming the stretch marks.
Usually, as the body grows, the strong connecting fibers in the dermis slowly stretch. However, with rapid growth, the fibers overstretch and break. Stretch marks are red or purple initially due to blood vessels showing through the tears in the dermis.” ¹
Okay, I’ve got stretch marks, what can i do?
The use of laser therapies has shown to be very effective for both new and older stretch marks. Laser therapy works best on lighter skin tones as some laser treatments may cause skin discoloration or pigmentation loss.
A board certified dermatologist or cosmetic plastic surgeon can give you more information about whether or not laser therapy is right for your particular scars and skin tone.
Laser therapies work by using wavelengths of light to stimulate growth of collagen, elastin or melanin production in the skin.²
Some of the most effective lasers for stretch marks include:
- 1,064-nm Nd:YAG laser3
- 1540-nm fractional nonablative laser4
- 1550-nm fractional nonablative laser5
- Fractional CO2 laser6
- Fractional photothermolysis7
- Pulsed dye laser8,9
Vitamin A (tretinoin):
Tretinoin a common ingredient in Retin-A and Renova has shown to help mild stretch marks, especially for those with darker skin for whom laser treatment is not an option. 12
While these creams may be relatively cheap, results may take longer, may result in irritation, dry skin, and should be avoided if you are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant.
What doesn’t work:
Over the counter creams, pills, lotions, and other topical products.
That’s right, those expensive “scar” creams, “stretch mark” creams, cocoa butters10, skin oils11, and more cannot heal or change stretch marks. Because stretch marks are scars as a result of dermal tearing, topical products (other than tretinoin) cannot and do not solve these problems. While keeping your skin hydrated is important, these products cannot prevent nor heal stretch marks.11
Stretch marks will fade in time, although they may never disappear on their own. Almost everyone has stretchmarks. Stretchmarks are normal and totally innocuous. If you do want to remove unwanted stretchmarks it’s best to save your money for treatments which have been proven to work. Spending hundreds of dollars on creams and lotions will only give you very hydrated skin.
Want to read some more? Check out our sources!
- Nichols, H. (n.d.). What are stretch marks? How can stretch marks be treated? Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283651.php
- By Mayo Clinic Staff Print. (2016). Stretch marks. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stretch-marks/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20169167
- Stretch marks: treatment using the 1,064-nm Nd:YAG laser. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18336578
- Fractional nonablative 1540-nm laser treatment of striae distensae in Fitzpatrick skin types II to IV: Clinical and histological results. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21551432
- Treatment of Striae Distensae with Nonablative Fractional Laser versus Ablative CO(2) Fractional Laser: A Randomized Controlled Trial. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22148016
- Treatment of striae distensae using an ablative 10,600-nm carbon dioxide fractional laser: A retrospective review of 27 participants. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20840494
- Treatment of striae distensae with fractional photothermolysis. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19438664
- Treatment of stretch marks with the 585-nm flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8624657
- Efficacy of pulsed dye laser versus intense pulsed light in the treatment of striae distensae. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24852467
- Cocoa butter lotion for prevention of striae gravidarum: A double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18715434
- Stretch marks during pregnancy: A review of topical prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25255817
- Comparison of topical therapy for striae alba (20% glycolic acid/0.05% tretinoin versus 20% glycolic acid/10% L-ascorbic acid). (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9723049