Stretch marks make their unsightly appearance when there has been damage to the elastic fibers of your skin. While most women notice post pregnancy stretch marks, they can also be caused by sudden weight gain. Stretch marks appear as pink, reddish brown or dark brown depending on your skin tone.
Ethnicity and heredity also play a role in determining whether you will get stretch marks. Usually they acquire a silvery streaked look over time. While there are many creams and lotions that are purported to remove or reduce stretch marks, their claims are yet to be substantiated. Laser surgery is being touted as an effective method of stretch mark removal.
Stretch marks or Striae Gravidarum refer to the pink, reddish brown streaks that appear on parts of your body where the skin has been subject to rapid stretching. Since skin is elastic, it stretches whenever a body has gained weight or to accommodate a fast developing fetus. But after a certain point, the deepest layer of the skin will tend to tear. This results in thin streaks over the upper layer of the skin and are referred to as stretch marks.
Stretch marks can appear on several areas such as the abdominal area, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms or lower back. Men and women are both susceptible to stretch marks. Stretch marks develop on the abdominal skin of pregnant women due to rapid stretching caused by the growing fetus. Sudden growth spurts during puberty can also leave stretch marks on some parts of the body. Sometimes stretch marks are caused due to corticosteroids and Cushing's syndrome.
Stretch mark cream
Creams containing Tretinoin may help in reducing the length and width of stretch mark appearance. Creams containing centella asiatica extract, alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) and collagen-elastin hydrolysates are popularly used to prevent stretch marks. Creams containing cocoa butter work at moisturizing the skin and improving skin elasticity. You can prevent stretch marks or reduce their appearance by helping the repair of collagen and elastic production in your skin.
Creams that promote skin rejuvenation with natural products such as wheat germ oil, lanolin and cocoa butter can be used as preventive measures during pregnancy. Creams containing the retinoids retinol and retinaldehyde derived from Vitamin A as well as creams containing containing alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) are known to provide relief from stretch marks by increasing cell regeneration.
Stretch mark removal
Skin treatment to get rid of stretch marks range from topical cream and glycolic peels to cosmetic surgery, dermabrasion and laser treatment. Different types of lasers are used for removal of stretch marks, depending on the color of the marks. Chemical peels remove several layers of skin and stimulate collagen to be formed. This treatment is used for pigmentation and fine lines.
They may be effective to remove stretch marks too. Blue light therapy involves use of gel and light to remove or reduce stretch marks. A tummy tuck or abdominal plastic surgery can tighten the skin and provide contours to the stomach wall. Stretch marks appearing below the belly button are thus removed when scarred skin is removed.
Micro dermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure where tiny particles are scrubbed against the skin to remove discolored epidermal skin and scars. This can be used to get rid of stretch marks or reduce their intensity. Keeping the skin well hydrated with plenty of water and foods rich in Vitamins C and A and zinc as well as consuming foods rich in protein can reduce your chances of developing stretch marks.
Laser stretch mark removal
Use of laser surgery for stretch mark removal is comparatively recent and is known to be effective against stretch marks that are in early stages of development. The efficacy of laser treatment on old silver-gray stretch marks is doubtful. This is so because laser pulsed light works best on dark brown or reddish streaks. Laser surgery for stretch mark removal involves use of a concentrated beam of light over the stretch marks.
As the skin layer is removed, so is the stretch mark. New skin tissue is formed over the treated area. Stretch marks that are recent, red or brown in color respond well to laser treatment. The skin may appear bruised and blistered for a few days till the new skin is formed. Studies show that laser surgery shows considerable improvement on fresh stretch marks and stimulates skin into producing more collagen.
Laser treatment to remove stretch marks would involve a few sittings. Typically each sitting may cost anywhere from $400 to $1500 or more for each session. Each laser surgery sitting for removing stretch marks may last a few minutes to an hour. While laser treatment for stretch mark removal is best on dark and recent stretch marks, there may be help for old mature stretch marks soon. Lasers that target pigment cells in white scars to produce more pigment can play a significant role here.
Stretch marks are probably one of the topmost cosmetic woes of many a woman. While many spend a fortune on creams to get rid of stretch marks, others may resort to laser surgery. It may be difficult to erase away stretch marks entirely. Most of the above mentioned methods can help assist in reducing the appearance of stretch marks.