Stretch marks, medically known as striae distensae, are an extremely common finding in both men and women who are past puberty. Stretch marks appear as linear streaks on the skin that has been overstretched, and they run perpendicular to maximum lines of tension in the skin.
Stretch marks are often the result of the rapid stretching of the skin associated with rapid growth or rapid weight changes. Stretch marks may also be influenced by hormonal changes associated with puberty, pregnancy, body-building, hormone replacement therapy etc. There seems to be damage to the elastic fibers of the dermis (the deeper layer of the skin) accompanied by inflammation which eventually results in scar-like changes. These changes appear to be induced by excessive physical stretching of the skin.
Stretch marks don’t look the same on everyone. The appearance of stretch marks depends on the color of your skin; they can start out pink, reddish brown, brown, or dark brown, and fade over time to a more silvery color.
Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body, but are most likely to appear in places where larger amounts of fat are stored. Most common places are the abdomen (especially near the navel), breasts, upper arms, underarms, back, thighs (both inner and outer), hips, and buttocks. They pose no health risk in and of themselves, and do not compromise the body’s ability to function normally and repair itself.
To prevent stretch marks, keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Use an oil-based, thick moisturizer
When stretch marks show up, it’s best to treat them as early as possible. Red immature stretch marks are more amenable to treatment than those that have matured to a silvery white. This is because the reddish stretch marks are still healing, and the healing can be modified by intervention.
MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT
- Use a moisturizer; if your skin has a lot of stretching to do, it’s less likely to tear and create stretch marks if it’s hydrated.
- Retin-A; this is thought to boost collagen production which helps skin stretch out and avoid tears.
NOTE: NOT TO BE USED DURING PREGNANCY OR WHILE NURSING; CAN CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS
LIMIT SUN EXPOSURE OF SKIN THAT YOU’RE TREATING WITH RETIN-A. IT COULD BE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO BURNING
- Glycolic Acid; increases collagen production
- Combination of Glycolic acid and Retin-A; dramatically improves the appearance of stretch marks.
- Vitamin E Oil; Better mixed with a moisturizer for better skin coverage
- Essential oils; Lavender, Rose, Frankincense, Geranium, helichrysum, myrrh, could be applied or with a carrier (e.g coconut oil or unscented moisturizer)
– Increase your vitamin C intake; for better results, use topical glycolic acid along with vitamin C
- LASER TREATMENT
– Pulsed Dye Laser (Vascular Laser); for fresh stretch marks
– Fractional Laser (Laser resurfacing)
- SURGERY; Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
PREVENTION IN PREGNANCY
– Eat a skin- nourishing diet; food rich in anti-oxidants (fresh fruits and vegetables), Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Omega 3
– Stay hydrated; water helps detoxify your body, keeps your skin cells plump, makes skin healthier and more likely to bounce back from the stress caused by stretching
– Exercise during pregnancy; this helps your skin retain its elasticity by improving your body’s circulation and also has the added advantage of preventing you from gaining much weight rapidly.
– Gain weight gradually
– Practice dry brushing to exfoliate your skin and improve circulation. This is recommended as a way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks that have already formed
– Do not use harsh chemicals on your skin
– Moisturize your skin
– Always use sunscreen especially when going to the beach or when putting on clothes that expose stretch mark prone areas of your body.
– Even after child birth maintain a healthy routine to help the skin return to its normal form.
MEGACARE…… A HEALTHIER YOU