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You must have marveled at models for their flawless skin while you look at your stretch marks in disgust. But do you understand what a stretch mark is? Stretch marks (otherwise known as striae), are visible linear scars in areas of excessive skin stretching. The excessive and abrupt change causes the collagen and elastin to tear and as it heals leave ugly scars behind. Collagen and elastin are two important proteins that support our skin.
This article aims to help you understand what these unwanted features are. We will also provide simple, yet effective methods to maintain the elasticity of your skin. And finally, prevent the development of the dreaded stretch marks. Understanding what a stretch mark is and how it forms is the first step towards prevention.
What is the Cause of Stretch Marks?
There are different factors that predispose you to develop these unwanted features. It may be poorly understood but several researches have tried to establish. However, in one study, it purported four main theories:
- Mechanical stretching of the skin. It stretches the skin beyond its limit leading to tearing of its underlying tissue layers. As the skin heals, it leaves these unwanted marks behind.
- Hormonal changes. Pubertal growth sports, rapid weight gain and loss, and pregnancy are all governed by hormones. In fact, according to the same study, it occurs in 50% of all pregnant women. There is rapid stretching of the skin in these occasions resulting in the development of these unwanted features as well.
- Congenital structural problems of the skin
- Genetic predisposition. It also commonly occurs in certain ethnic groups (particularly people with darker skin tone). With a strong family history, you will likely develop these unwanted features.
A study in 2019 states that the key cell player for the development of stretch marks is dermal fibroblasts (cell that contributes to the formation of connective tissue). This new information could pave the way for directing the treatment initiatives.
What Treatments Are Available for Minimizing the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
There are several treatments available to reduce stretch marks and improve your skin’s appearance. According to a study, there are different target for every treatment modality including the following:
- Dermal collagen induction (to improve tissue strength)
- Vascularity reduction on the stretch mark
- Skin wrinkling and texture improvement
- Pigmentation change
- Increase in blood circulation and elastin production (for its increased elasticity)
- Cell proliferation improvement
- Hydration improvement
- Anti-inflammatory properties
As such, topical creams and lotions have been recommended despite little evidence of efficacy according to another study.
- Moisturizer. A study states that moisturization is key to decrease or improve the appearance of these unwanted features.
- Silicone gel. Another study we reviewed is the use of silicone gels, which suggested that its use can increase collagen levels and reduce pigmentation.
- Tretinoin cream. A study suggests that it can increase collagen production.
- Chemical peels (exfoliation). This has been used but the efficacy is yet unknown.
However, according to a study, there has been no topical agent yet that proves to be efficacious against these unwanted features.
- UV radiation (temporary effect with loss of pigmentation for a few months)
- Light and laser therapy. One study suggests that the Nd:YAG laser can significantly improve the appearance of these unwanted features. In another study, both picosecond fractional and non-ablative fractional lasers improved the texture of the scar.
- Radiofrequency (RF). A study suggests that RF can indeed reduce the visibility of stretch marks. A nanofractional RF such as Venus Viva may help.
Remember, while these treatments can help minimize the appearance of these unwanted features, they may not completely remove them. It’s always best to consult with a dermatologist to find the most effective treatment for your specific situation.
How Can I Reduce Stretch Marks Naturally?
You can reduce stretch marks naturally through various home remedies and lifestyle changes. Regularly moisturizing your skin can help maintain its elasticity and potentially prevent these unwanted features.
A study suggests that a cream containing Centella asiatica extract, vitamin E, and collagen hydrolysates can prevent formation of additional stretch marks in women who developed them during puberty.
Consuming an adequate amount of water also contributes to maintaining skin hydration. This further enhances its flexibility and ability to withstand stretching.
Regular physical exercise can also aid in preventing these unwanted features. Exercise tones your muscles, keeping the skin firm and helping to prevent it from stretching rapidly. Remember, while these natural remedies may help, they don’t guarantee complete removal of stretch marks. However, they can significantly help in reducing their appearance and preventing future ones.
Can Coconut Oil Remove Stretch Marks?
Coconut oil, while beneficial for skin health, cannot completely remove these unwanted features.
It contains nourishing fatty acids and antioxidants that can help improve skin elasticity and reduce inflammation. Regularly applying coconut oil can hydrate the skin, potentially preventing the development of new stretch marks and reducing the appearance of existing ones.
Remember, the effectiveness of coconut oil in reducing these unwanted features can vary from person to person. Factors such as the age, depth, size, and color of the stretch marks can affect the outcome. While coconut oil may not completely erase stretch marks, its consistent use in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle can certainly help in managing them better and preventing future ones.
Does Moisturizing Prevent Stretch Marks?
Yes, moisturizing the skin regularly may help prevent stretch marks as established earlier.
However, there are no creams or oils proven to prevent these unwanted features. Keeping the skin supple may be helpful for reducing the risk in some people. Moisturizers can often help reduce itching that happens as the skin stretches.
Some research has shown that moisturizers with high levels of vitamin E and collagen (one of the substances that provides the skin with elasticity) may be effective in reducing the appearance of these unwanted features. However, it is important to note that moisturizing abdominal skin while pregnant can help support fragile skin. But there are no studies to show that any particular creams can really help prevent stretch marks.
Moisturizing may help reduce the risk of developing stretch marks for some people. However, there is no guaranteed way to prevent them. It is important to keep in mind that these unwanted features are a common occurrence and are not harmful to one’s health. If you are concerned about developing stretch marks, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
Can Vaseline Remove Stretch Marks?
No, Vaseline will not make stretch marks go away.
Vaseline can keep the skin hydrated and moisturized, but there is no scientific evidence that it can actually reduce their appearance.
Vaseline is a petroleum-based product which is thought to help moisturize the skin and make it smoother. This can help reduce the appearance of these unwanted features, which often appear as ripples or lines on the skin. When applied topically to the affected area, the ingredients of Vaseline can help the skin feel softer and appear smoother.
It’s important to understand that Vaseline won’t be able to remove these unwanted features. But it can help to lighten them up and make them less noticeable. To get the most benefit from using Vaseline for these unwanted features, it should be applied regularly, ideally twice a day. If you are very troubled by your stretch marks, you may want to consult your doctor who may recommend a more intensive treatment.
How Do You Stop Stretch Marks From Forming?
There is no surefire way to prevent stretch marks completely. According to a study, prevention of these unwanted features has remained a clinical challenge with an elusive solution.
Some factors like genetics and rapid growth may increase your risk. However, some possible ways to help prevent stretch marks are the following:
- Staying hydrated
- Eating balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Topical creams, gels, and lotion
These methods may help prevent these unwanted features by softening skin, promoting elasticity, improving circulation, and reducing weight fluctuations.
In conclusion, there is no guaranteed way to prevent stretch marks from forming. If you are concerned about developing these unwanted features, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
How Long Do Stretch Marks Take to Fade?
Stretch marks usually do fade and become a gray color if you get them from pregnancy. It usually takes about six months to one year after labor for them to fade away. In general, stretch marks take between six and 12 months to fade. With treatment, they often fade faster. However, several factors are involved whether these unwanted features fade:
- Skin type
It’s important to note that while stretch marks may fade over time, they may not completely disappear. Many products and procedures promise to minimize the appearance of these unwanted features, or even make them disappear completely. To date, though, little evidence supports the effectiveness of these products. If you are concerned about the appearance of your stretch marks, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
Can You Stop Stretch Marks From Spreading?
There is no guarantee that you can stop stretch marks from spreading.
However, you can perform steps that will help reduce their appearance and prevent damage, including:
- Keep your weight in check
- Stay hydrated
- Sun protection
- Medical treatments such as microneedling, which according to study, is a safe and effective way to treat these unwanted features.
If you are concerned about these unwanted features spreading, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
Can Laser Therapy or Other Cosmetic Procedures Help With Reducing the Appearance of Stretch Marks?
Yes, laser therapy and other cosmetic procedures can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
There are different types of laser treatments that can be used to reduce the appearance of these unwanted features.
- Pulsed dye laser may help reduce the appearance of these unwanted features by increasing collagen production, making your skin more elastic.
- Fractional laser therapy focuses on resurfacing smaller areas. The laser is aimed at the edges of stretch marks, smoothing over the surface of the skin. It adjusts the texture of the affected areas, making it appear more similar to the rest of your skin.
There are also several cosmetic procedures that can help reduce the appearance of these unwanted features.
- Chemical peels (though the efficiency is yet unknown)
It’s important to note that while laser therapy and other cosmetic procedures can help reduce the appearance of these unwanted features, they may not completely disappear. If you are considering these treatments, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
What Steps Can People Take to Prevent Developing New Stretch Marks in the Future?
There are several steps people can take to prevent developing new stretch marks in the future. Some of these steps include:
- Weight control
- Balanced diet
- Healthy sun exposure
- Early treatment of these unwanted features
It’s important to note that while these steps can help reduce the risk of developing new stretch marks in the future, there is no guaranteed way to prevent them completely. If you are concerned about developing these unwanted features, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.
In sum, understanding the causes and treatments of stretch marks is crucial in our journey to prevent and reduce them. We’ve explored various aspects, from what these unwanted features are, the causes, available treatments, to natural ways of reduction including the use of coconut oil, moisturizing, and the role of vaseline. We’ve also touched on methods to stop them from forming, spreading, and the timeframe they take to fade.
As we’ve learned, while these unwanted features may not be completely erasable, their appearance can be significantly reduced with consistent care and lifestyle changes. Whether through maintaining a balanced diet, regular physical exercise, or opting for treatments like laser therapy, you can manage these unwanted features effectively. Ultimately, taking proactive steps today can help prevent developing new stretch marks in the future, keeping your skin healthy and beautiful.
A Note From ReplenishMD Aesthetics & Wellness
Achieving radiant, smooth, and stretch mark-free skin is within your reach with ReplenishMD Aesthetics & Wellness. Our dedicated team of experts are committed to providing you with advanced and personalized treatments that not only slow the signs of aging but also enhance your overall wellness. Empowering you with refined information on how to prevent and reduce stretch marks, we aim to guide you on your journey towards healthier, rejuvenated skin. Take the first step towards renewed confidence and well-being today, explore our range of facials, body treatments, and wellness services, tailor-made to meet your aesthetic needs.