Stretch marks are caused as the skin weakens as a result of stretching due to either weight gain or pregnancy. This stretching and tugging causes the tissue underneath the skin to enlarge at a quicker rate than the skin can stretch to accommodate the gain in tissue mass. The dermis layer subsequently rips (ouch), the top layer of skin however, does not which is what results in the scarring we all know and ‘love’.
The ability of ones skin to stretch is detrimental to the amount of elastin in the dermis. A lucky few have a lot of elastin going for them and so will not fall victim to the wrath that is, stretch marks. Up to 90% of people however, will experience the purpley blue to red fault-lines during pregnancy showing that these marks are nothing out of the ordinary.
The high inevitability of women experiencing stretch marks at some point in their life is not the most comforting of thoughts and neither is the scientific fact that despite what the bottle tells you, there is no topical formulation that can completely eliminate the nuisances. This is something that we ladies have been warned of time and time again, but for some reason it doesn’t stop us from grabbing every lotions and seemingly magical potions off of the shelves. Why?
Is it that these topical creams and oils make us feel more in control? The fact is; stretch marks are entirely down to genetics. If your momma’s got them then it is extremely likely that you too will. Chad K. Wheeler, MD (Plastic Surgeon) softens the blow in explaining that although there is no cure, there are ways to make them less noticeable. This can be achieved through lightening the color through various laser treatments. More mature stretch marks can be camouflaged (through make-up) or even ablated with surgery. Some people could swear by coco butter, Vitamin E and bio oil but the reality of it is that elastin is either in the genes or it isn’t. Those topical lotions may very well provide a soothing relief to irritated skin and keep it hydrated but they will not physically increase the amount of elastin in the skin, so unless this is your reason behind your purchase, keep your money in your pockets!
How Can You Help to Prevent Stretch Marks?
When it comes to stretch marks caused by weight gain, what matters is how quickly you gain weight rather than how much. In order to reduce stretch marks when pregnant, though weight gain is inevitable, healthy woman should gain 25-30 pounds. According to Mary Lupo, MD (clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine), “It’s not a bad idea to not only try to stay within that range but to also gain slowly and steadily, as opposed to in fast spurts’’. It could be these fast spurts that cause the earthquakes in the skin, a slower and steadier weight gain will give more time for the skin to adjust.
Focus on Fading
It’s not all doom and gloom! Stretch marks will usually fade to a very faint silvery line but some tough ones will remain darker. There are certain methods of action you can take to reduce the appearance of your new little friends which are particularly effective whilst the marks are in their initial reddish stage. Options include onion extract and hyaluronic acid gels, retinoid or laser treatments in clinical spas. Laser treatments work to boost collagen growth through radio frequency technology and shrink the stretched blood vessels; the TriPollar Pose is a similar home version of this.
Perhaps we can take comfort in knowing that there really is no magic wand we can wave to make them magically disappear and in knowing that almost every woman under the sun has them in some way shape or form. Keep wary of products claiming to banish them for good and embrace your beautiful body, flaws and all.