Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Akruti Khandkar (Journalist)  on 23rd Oct 2020

Stretch Marks Are More Common Than You Think! Here's Everything You Need To Know About Them

How To Remove Stretch Marks

There is no need to panic when you see stretch marks on your body. It's widespread. However, women tend to get them more than men. More than 50% of ladies experience stretch marks during pregnancy. They can happen on any part of your body, including the stomach, upper arms, lower back, breasts, thighs, and hips.  

What are stretch marks?  

Stretch marks are scars or deforming sores. They are not risky yet can cause issues with anxiety and mental support. As per AAD, stretch marks blur with time.

However, treatment may make them less perceptible more quickly. The unexpected change makes collagen and elastin, which uphold our skin, to burst.

As the skin recuperates, stretch imprints may show up. For certain people, stretch marks are a critical restorative worry that can influence everyday living.

In medical terminology, stretch marks are commonly known as Striae. 

There are other specific names you might hear related to stretch marks:

  • Striae atrophicans are caused by skin thinning or atrophy 
  • Striae gravidarum are pregnancy-related marks 
  • Striae rubrae is the red-colored marks 
  • Striae nigrae are usually deep-colored marks that appear almost black 
  • Striae alba are the silvery-white colored marks 
  • The rapid expansion of the skin causes · Striae distensae 
  • Striae caerulea are dark-blue colored marks  

Know the formation of stretch marks. 

The skin comprises of three essential layers -

  • Epidermis is the formation of the outermost surface of the skin 
  • Dermis is the middle layer and lies below the epidermis  
  • Subcutaneous tissue or hypodermis is the deepest layer 

Collagen and elastin are the proteins that are responsible for the formation of the skin. These substances lie in the dermis and are accountable for resilience and flexibility.

Stretch marks occur in the dermis, or center layer, when the connective tissue is elongated past its flexibility limits. This happens when skin extends and contracts rapidly.

As the body develops, the connecting tissues in the dermis gradually stretch to oblige moderate development. It makes the dermis tear, permitting underneath layers of skin visible. It can frame stretch marks and adds to the way they look.

Stretch marks can lead to severe conditions when there are elevated levels of flowing cortisone or when cortisone is applied for a long time to the skin. Cortisol, the stress hormone delivered by the adrenal organs, is changed over into cortisone. It debilitates elastic fibers in the skin.

Symptoms of stretch marks 

If your skin appears pink and attenuated, it's most likely the start of your stretch marks. You may feel itchy or irritated. The effects can seem wrinkly at first, raised streaks that can be red, purple, pink, dark brown, depending upon skin shading. The streaks in time blur and smooth and turn into a silvery color.

Stretch marks may slowly turn out to be less observable; however, this can frequently take years.  

Dr. Latanya Benjamin, a board-certified pediatric dermatologist, suggested some factors that generate stretch marks: 

  • Pregnancy: Between 50 and 90% of pregnant women undergo stretch marks during or after birth.  
  • Puberty: continuous growth is expected in youngsters experiencing adolescence. It can prompt stretch marks.  
  • Inconsistency in weight: instability in the weight is the common cause of stretch marks.  
  •  Medical conditions: Certain conditions can cause marks too, for example, Cushing's syndrome and Marfan syndrome. Marfan syndrome can prompt diminished flexibility in the skin tissue, and Cushing's syndrome can lead the body to create a skin delicacy and rapid weight gain.  
  • Corticosteroid use: excess use of corticosteroid creams can diminish levels of collagen in the skin. Collagen fortifies and supports the skin, and a decreased amount can lead to stretch marks.  
  • Bodybuilding: gym freaks usually do bodybuilding to increase the muscle mass. This physical transformation can cause a tear or overstretch of the muscle. Hence, this causes stretch marks.  

What treatment is accessible for stretch marks?  

Stretch marks frequently blur with time. If you would prefer not to pause, some treatments can improve their appearance. However, no medicine can cause stretch marks to vanish totally.

As per AAD, applying hyaluronic acid too early stretch marks helps to make it appear less perceptible. Similarly, Tretinoin is a retinoid, which may likewise make the first stretch marks less recognizable. Retinol, another kind of retinoid, may also help blur early stretch marks.  

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There are other few different ways to improve the presence of stretch marks:  

  • Tretinoin cream (Retin-A, Renova) works by reestablishing collagen, a fibrous protein that gives your skin flexibility. It's ideal to use this cream on new marks that appear reddish or pinkish. This cream may cause skin irritation. In case you're pregnant, you shouldn't utilize tretinoin cream. 
  • Pulsed dye laser treatment supports the development of collagen and elastin. It's ideal to utilize this treatment on new marks. Dark skin tone people may encounter skin discoloration.  
  • Fractional photothermolysis is homogenous to pulsed dye laser treatment. However, it works by focusing on littler zones of your skin, causing skin issues.  
  • Radiofrequency energy gadgets produce high-frequency electric flow creating dermal heat. They are utilized to fix the dermis, diminish wrinkles, and improve cellulite. 
  • Microdermabrasion includes cleaning the skin with small gems, crystals etc. to uncover new skin under elastic stretch marks. Microdermabrasion can improve the visibility of older, fully developed stretch marks.  
  • The excimer laser animates skin color (melanin) creation to achieve stretch marks emulate the encompassing skin.  

As per AAD, with all methods, side-effects are possible. In the gifted hands of a board-guaranteed dermatologist, reactions will, in general, be minor and impermanent. It's entirely expected to have some redness and swelling after a technique that vanishes after a few hours.

A dermatologist can let you know whether any of these medicines would be appropriate for you, given your well-being, age, and how long you've had the stretch marks.  

How can you forestall stretch marks?  

It is doubtful to forestall stretch marks totally, regardless of whether you regularly use a moisturizer or not! However, maintaining your weight stability by eating healthy and exercising can assist with forestalling stretch marks. 

  • Maintain a stable weight.  
  • Avoid inconsistent dieting.  
  • Eat a reasonably healthy meal plentiful in minerals and vitamins.

Devouring a reasonable measure of vitamins, A and C can help uphold the skin. 

  • Aim for moderate and steady weight gain during pregnancy.  
  • consume a lot of water every day.  

Dermo tip:

According to Dr. Dray, although no single product or procedure may help everyone, some techniques can help fade the marks if you get it treated soon (when they are pink or purple.). Older scars are challenging to treat. 

Do stretch marks go away?  

It's essential to address that there is no single product or treatment that would help everyone. AAD specialist discovered that If you pick any Stretch marks moisturizers, creams, and gels, make sure to:  

  • Use the item on early stretch marks. Treatment appears to have a little or negligent impact on developed stretch marks.  
  • Massage the product into your stretch marks. Taking time to rub the item delicately into your skin may make it more successful.  
  • Apply the item regularly for weeks. If you get results, they take a long time to show up.  

Do home remedies work?

If you expect you to get rid of stretch marks, that isn't going to happen. Stretch marks are common across ages and sexes. That is why several individuals attempt distinctive home remedies with expectations of blurring the marks.

Specific effective remedies that address stretch marks have gained popularity like olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera, and vitamin E. These elective treatments gain authenticity from an anecdotal perspective but have no scientific support.

You can take the assistance of your dermatologist regarding the ingredient. You can also apply a little amount of the product to your hand to check for irritation.  

Tip:

Dr. Dray says tanning can't dispose of stretch marks. When your skin is tanned, stretch marks become more visible as they don't get tan.

Self-tanner: Tanning can make stretch marks more perceptible. A self-tanner can disguise stretch marks — both early and develop ones.  

Busting some myths! 

1. Thin people don't get stretch marks 

It is commonly accepted that thin individuals don't get stretch marks. However, this is altogether false. Anybody can build up these marks, nevertheless of body weight or physique.

These innocuous scars are an integral part of growing up, and thin people are not insusceptible to specific hormonal imbalances, making one inclined to the stretch marks.  

2. Stretch marks are the outcome of stretching of the skin 

If you imagine that stretch marks can show up when your skin is overstretched, that's not entirely true!

It's a fact that your skin fibers do rupture when skin strands are beyond their flexibility. However, different variables can likewise make your skin tear with no physical strain.

An abundance of glucocorticoids and certain different hormones in your body can reduce the flexibility of your skin.

Subsequently, the collagen may break at a tiny smidgen of effort. This sort of skin decay can make you more vulnerable to stretch marks.  

3. Weight reduction can assist you with decreasing stretch marks  

Since stretch marks are often connected with weight gain, it is wrongly accepted that losing the additional weight will cause the scars to vanish or turn out to be less visible.

Having healthy weight management has a lot of health benefits. So, stick to it! But it does very little to improve the presence of stretch marks once they have just shaped. 

Takeaway  

Stretch marks are proof of your wisdom. As Tim Kazurinsky said, stretch marks are the badge of a real woman, so take these marks as pride and be confident of who you are.