Stretch marks, or scar-like lines that appear when the skin stretches and contracts rapidly, are common. Also called stretch marks, stretch marks often appear after pregnancy, puberty and weight fluctuations. Stretch marks are completely harmless and do not require medical treatment. Some people feel comfortable with their stretch marks and want to hug them. It’s fantastic! But others may not like the way they look and try to get rid of them. This can lead to greater comfort with their appearance, which can boost self-esteem.Whatever your relationship with stretch marks, read on to find out what causes them, who’s at risk, and (if you want) how to treat them.
What stretch marks look like
Not all stretch marks are created equal. They can vary depending on where they appear in your body, how long you’ve had them, and what caused them.
Stretch marks can be pink, red, blue, purple or dark brown depending on your skin tone Arrow up They can appear on the skin as bright lines or lines that fade to a lighter color. Sometimes stretch marks look like an indentation or an embedded right arrow
When stretch marks first develop, they are usually slightly raised and may itchBut they may never disappear completely. Arrow up
Stretch marks: causes and risk factors
Stretch marks are the result of sudden stretching and shrinking of the skin.Stretch marks can appear during the healing process of the skin. arrow right
Common risk factors for stretch marks include:
- Growth accelerates during puberty
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Bodybuilding or weightlifting
- steroid use
- Breast augmentation arrow pointing up
“This applies to anabolic steroids used by bodybuilders and weightlifters, as well as prescription steroids when used to treat medical problems such as connective tissue diseases and some types of arthritis,” says Dr. Massive. Topical steroids used to treat skin conditions such as eczema can also lead to stretch marks, especially when used on the armpits, inner thighs, and groin.
Repeated use of steroids can cause thinning of the skin, which can lead to stretch marks, says Amy Kassouf, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Twinsburg, Ohio. Certain genetic conditions can also increase the risk of stretch marks. Stretch marks are common in people with Cushing’s syndrome, a condition in which the body produces too much cortisol, a stress hormone. Up arrow Long-term high cortisol levels can weaken the skin’s elastic fibers, which can lead to stretch marks, says Dr. Nosta cash. Arrow up Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, two connective tissue diseases in the body, arrow up weaken the skin, which can lead to stretch marks.
Treatment for stretch marks
Stretch marks are harmless to physical health and often fade over time without treatment. But if stretch marks make you uncomfortable with your appearance, it is important to note that there is no magic wand to get rid of them.
“None of the available treatments are a dunk,” Kassouf says.
However, if you want to minimize the appearance of stretch marks, you should try the following options.
Prescription retinoid cream
While research is limited, some studies suggest that retinoids, especially prescription tretinoin, can improve the appearance of stretch marks that are less than a few months old. The theory is that tretinoin can rebuild collagen so stretch marks look more like your normal skin.
However, Kassouf warns that the effects may be too small to even see with the naked eye. Tretinoin can cause pain, irritation, and dryness, so talk to your dermatologist if you experience any side effects during this treatment.
Micro needling can be done at a dermatologist’s office. It involves hitting the skin with fine needles that create small lesions on the skin, which in turn help stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin. It usually takes three to six treatments over several months to make a noticeable difference, although it may take longer. Some people report side effects after micro needling, such as irritation, swelling, discoloration and flaky skin.
Laser skin rejuvenation
During this procedure, the doctor focuses pulsating, focused beams of light on the skin to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. The laser precisely removes the layers of skin or creates small invisible holes in the skin that stimulate the growth of collagen and smooth the area. Side effects may include swelling, milia, and discoloration
Laser treatment of blood vessels
The stretch marks appear red or purple, your doctor may recommend a vascular laser that specifically targets the blood vessels responsible for the stretch marks. Side effects may include temporary discomfort and bruising in the treated area. Results are usually visible a week or two after treatment.
Home remedies for stretch marks
Although several home remedies are marketed to treat stretch marks, the hard truth is that none of them have been proven to work. “The goal of cosmetic treatments and other interventions is to under promise and overdeliver,”
And while cocoa butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil are believed to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, research suggests that these cooking ingredients aren’t an effective antidote.
But it can’t hurt to try them if you want. If you choose to do so, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using them immediately after the appearance of stretch marks and massaging the product into the skin daily for several weeks.
The AAD also states that while tanning in the sun can make stretch marks more visible, self-tanning can mask them. Just remember that this will only cover up stretch marks, not remove them. Right arrow up
Ultimately, if you see an expensive lotion, cream, or gel marketed as a stretch mark cure-all and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“Save your money and don’t invest time or attention in home remedies that can’t increase collagen or repair torn elastin in the skin, no matter what they promise,” says Massick.
Stretch mark prevention
Likewise, not much can be done to prevent stretch marks, and there is no substantial evidence that remedies actually work. However, Kassouf recommends moisturizing the skin daily with a moisturizer, especially during pregnancy, so that the skin becomes more flexible to stretch “Think of it as Play-Doh,” he says. “When it’s new and hydrated, it’s more flexible and easier to stretch. But when it’s dry, it’s not as flexible and starts to crack. It’s pretty much the same concept.” Kassouf notes that in many cases, especially when the skin stretches quickly, moisturizing is unlikely to prevent stretch marks.
“Technically, stretch marks are atrophic scars that result from disruption and damage to the connective tissue of the skin,” If we think of stretch marks as skin wounds, then emollients can help at least some of the wounds stay in healing mechanisms. Although the research is limited, some studies suggest that hyaluronic acid, a substance found naturally in the body, may prevent stretch marks. Up arrow Hyaluronic acid is added to many over-the-counter creams and lotions.
One study found that gotu kola, also known as gotu kola, an herb used in some beauty products, can prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. However, the researchers point out that there is limited evidence and more research is needed. Arrow Up So keep your expectations low.
Since rapid weight gain and loss can cause stretch marks, you should aim for a healthy diet and regular exercise to avoid rapid weight fluctuations. If you’re prescribed topical steroids, use them only intermittently and generally avoid long-term or continuous use, Massick says.
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about the medications you are taking and possible side effects. Finally, if you are using anabolic steroids to build muscle, stop using them.