Now, most people seem to be of the opinion that stretch marks are permanent which is far from the truth. When handled correctly, it is perfectly possible to get rid of stretch marks without going under the knife.
At least half of pregnant women get stretch marks. Others get them from rapid weight gain, like during puberty or simply losing track of the pounds your packing, so to speak. Each person’s skin grows at a different rate, which causes certain people to get stretch marks worse than others. And that’s why I want to share my own experience I had with stretch marks.
Before I get into how to get rid of stretch marks is important to understand what are stretch marks
Stretch marks are a form of scarring of the skin, which is caused by intense and prolonged stretching of the skin and causes tearing of the dermis. These marks are elongated in appearance and may appear anywhere in the body, in both males and females alike. These marks are typically reddish or purple in colour and take a light shade over time.
The causes of stretch marks are many. However, we will discuss the four primary reasons:
Rapidly gaining Weight and Obesity: Stretching of the skin occurs with rapid weight changes. High body mass index, typically 30 or more, which is a manifestation of excess weight gain and further leading to obesity, is one of the major causes of stretch marks. Excess weight is stored as fat, usually near the abdomen, thighs, underarm, hips and buttocks and in breasts in women. This causes the skin to stretch to accommodate the excess fat, leading to stretch marks.
Weightlifting: Weightlifting increases overall strength and muscle mass and gives a muscular look to the body. Power-lifting, body building and competitive weight lifting makes the muscle mass to grow too fast, whereas the skin is unable to grow at the same pace. This mismatch in skin and muscle growth causes stretch marks to appear. Often times, weightlifters also consume steroids and muscle enhancers, which too cause the muscles to increase disproportionately rapidly and cause stretch marks. Sometimes, lack of adequate water intake keeps the skin inadequately hydrated and inelastic, not permitting the skin to expand to accommodate the muscle.
Pregnancy: Stretch marks in the abdomen of pregnant women are common occurrence. Statistically, 75% to 90% of pregnant women develop these stretch marks during the sixth or seventh month of their pregnancy. As the foetus grows and one puts on weight, the abdomen is gradually stretched further and further, causing stretch marks to appear. These stretch marks can appear on the thighs, buttocks and on the breasts as they get bigger and heavier. Such stretch marks are usually thin red lines and over time appear as scars, though they are not painful at all. These marks cause an itchy or tingling feeling on the abdomen. It is also said, that stretch marks during pregnancy are also hereditary in nature and hence becomes unavoidable.
Hormones: Hormones are essential for body functioning released by glands. Elastin, a collagen is an important hormonal secretion essential for elasticity in the skin and formation of the connective tissue. However, it is believed that elevated levels of stress often results in additional cortisol and other glucocorticoids to be released by glands, which impairs production of collagen, thus leading to stretch marks. Such stretch marks can occur in any person, man or woman and is caused due to hormonal imbalance.
Large breast implants. After going to a cosmetic surgeon to have breast implants, you might have stretch marks afterwards. This is because of the instant increase of your breast size.
Stretch marks are commonly seen in obese people and pregnant women, whose incidence is high. Another category of people who are also prone to stretch marks are teenagers, since they are often stressed out. This has further impact on their dietary habits, leading to overeating and gaining weight.
Most stretch marks are not permanent, and can be erased quite effectively and smoothly if suitable care and treatment are initiated in a timely manner. However, it does take prolonged time to completely erase such marks. There are of course, a large variety of creams and lotions available commercially in the market which claim to erase the stretch marks quickly. However, it has been seen that these claims are untrue and though the stretch marks are masked or become invisible quickly, they reappear when the cream or lotion is not applied.
Besides, most of these creams and lotions are not approved clinically and may cause further damage to the skin. Many of these creams and lotions contain harmful chemicals which may lead to irreversible colour inversion of the skin. Besides, your skin may be allergic to some of these chemicals. Rather than picking up such expensive anti-stretch mark lotions off the shelf, it is always advisable to consult the dermatologist and apply prescription drugs. Let us discuss some of the remedies that one can take to erase the stretch marks It has been reported that there are some essential oils which significantly mitigate the stretch marks, when applied regularly. The oils are usual home-remedies, eg Rose, Geranium, Lavender,etc. These can be applied directly or mixed with coconut oil or unscented moisturizer.
There are other lotions and creams composed of Retin-A and Glycolic acid. However, it is cautioned that any such over-the-counter solutions may be harmful and a licensed dermatologist should be referred to.
It has also been suggested by dermatologists that 500 mg of Vitamin C if taken as oral supplement can assist reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
Laser treatments have recently been quite popular, though expensive. One must be careful, since such treatments have side-effects.
Then there are surgical options too, called abdominoplasty or tummy-tuck. Surgical interventions are expensive and are likely to take significantly long time to heal completely. Besides, complications may develop post-surgery.
What we have to appreciate that the stretch marks once obtained cannot be fully erased and some faint marks remain, though they can be smartly camouflaged.
Stretch marks are a common occurrence across the social spectrum and do not cause any physical discomfort, though these have beauty implications. Especially for teenagers and young women or professionals in the beauty and glamour business who need to maintain flawless skin tone and wear clothes or swimwear, wherein such stretch marks can cause harm. Early precautions therefore should be taken to reduce the effect of stretch marks, caused by pregnancy or weightlifting, etc. It is also necessary to keep a stress-free life and maintain a healthy body by eating right and doing regular exercise.