Stretch marks on the body are quite a common occurrence for both men and women. Despite that, many people still suffer from low self-esteem because of it and are subject to psychological distress1.
People with stretch marks are always on the lookout for some treatment or miracle that could make their marks go away. While it’s not easy, it’s not entirely impossible either. So, keep reading to find out how you can treat stretch marks as well as prevent them in the future.
Why Do Stretch Marks Appear?
Usually, our skin contains elastic fibers that help it retain or come back to its shape after being pulled or stretched. However, these elastic fibers do have a limit, and sometimes, certain hormones can even weaken these fibers.
As the name suggests, stretch marks appear when the skin stretches beyond the limit of the elastic fibers, or there is an increase in cortisone in the body, which is a hormone that affects the elastic fibers. They can appear any time the skin is stretched, be it during pregnancy or rapid weight loss.
Types of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks don’t look the same on everyone. While they usually always appear as a band of parallel lines, sometimes they can be raised or flat.
Similarly, they can appear in many different colors. Correctly identifying the type of stretch mark can help you treat stretch marks more effectively. Some of the types of stretch marks commonly found include:
- Striae Rubrae: Stretch marks that are pinkish to red in color.
- Striae Gravidarum: Stretch marks associated with pregnancy.
- Striae Caerulea: Stretch marks that are blue to purplish in color.
People Most Likely to Develop Stretch Marks
People who are most likely to develop stretch marks include pregnant women2. As their body grows and stretches to accommodate the growing babies inside, their skin is pulled taut over their bellies, leading to stretch marks once the babies are out.
Athletes also tend to develop stretch marks as their intensive workouts cause their skin to stretch and tug as their muscles grow and expand.
Besides pregnant women and athletes, people with a history of stretch marks, Caucasians, women, and people experiencing dramatic weight loss or gain are prone to developing stretch marks.
How to Treat Stretch Marks
Usually, stretch marks can fade on their own over time. However, if you want to get rid of them immediately, there are certain ingredients you can try. Although, you need to remember that stretch marks can’t be treated completely, and you can only improve their appearance.
Moreover, the older the stretch marks get, the harder it is to treat them.
Here are some treatment options.
- Vitamin A derivatives such as Tretinoin can help boost the collagen production in your skin, improve elasticity, and make your stretch marks appear similar to your normal skin. However, vitamin A derivatives must not be used in pregnant or lactating women.
- AHAs, such as glycolic acid, can also help with collagen in the skin and improve the texture of the skin around the stretch marks3.
- Microdermabrasion helps reveal new skin under the old stretch marks for improved appearance and texture.
- Certain laser and light treatments can improve the appearance of stretch marks by making its color similar to the skin around it.
- Keep your skin well-moisturized, use shea butter and other creams everyday.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks
In some cases, such as during pregnancy, stretch marks are unavoidable. However, in the case of athletes or those going through weight loss/gain, the best ways to prevent stretch marks include watching one’s diet, not to over exercise, and maintaining healthy weight. Keeping your body moisturized and treating new stretch marks right away also helps prevent stretch marks to some extent4.
Dealing with stretch marks requires a lot of time, patience, and acceptance. Therefore, whatever treatment method you choose, you will have to wait a while to see significant results. In the meanwhile, if you really want to hit the beach in your favorite bikini, some self-tanning lotion and a bit of concealer should help you treat stretch marks quickly.
- Vaiyavatjamai, P., Jaturapatporn, D., & Linos, E. (2017). Interventions for established stretch marks. The Cochrane Library, 2017(9). doi:10.1002/14651858.cd010926.pub2
- Carey, E. (2017, September 1). Stretch Marks. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from Healthline.com website: https://www.healthline.com/health/stretch-marks
- (2012, May 14). How can I get rid of stretch marks? Retrieved February 11, 2021, from Labmuffin.com website: https://labmuffin.com/how-can-i-get-rid-of-stretch-marks/
- Marcin, A. (2018, July 9). How to prevent stretch marks: 7 tips. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from Healthline.com website: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-prevent-stretch-marks