What are stretch marks? What are the various stretch marks types? Why they occur and what are the ways to remove them? Are stretch marks permanent? Let’s find the answers in this article which explains the types of stretch marks on the body, their causes and treatments which include stretch marks removal methods (surgical and non-surgical) and some remedies.
A stretch mark is a type of scar resulting from an abrupt and quick stretching or shrinking of the skin. Due to this change, the elastin and collagen rupture, and a scar is formed as the skin heals. Stretch marks on face, hands and feet are rare, while they are most likely to appear on areas where fat is stored.
Causes of Stretch Marks
Growth spurts during puberty are a common cause of stretch marks in teenagers.
Pregnancy is a common cause of stomach stretch marks. While some women take their stretch mark pictures after pregnancy and even treasure them, others find these marks on the skin unsightly and embarrassing.
A rapid gain or loss in body weight can lead to stretch marks on the thighs and stomach, or other areas where loss or gain of fat has occurred, leading to the stretching or shrinking of the skin in that region. Rapid weight gain commonly leads to stretch marks on the back.
When the muscle size grows fast as a result of weight training or bodybuilding, stretch marks occur. Stretch marks on shoulders and thighs could be the result of this.
One of the other stretch marks causes is the long-term use of corticosteroids on the skin.
Cortisol secreted by the adrenal gland, weakens the elastic fibres in the skin, and can cause stretch marks.
Genetics plays a role in the possibility of getting stretch marks. Those with a family history of stretch marks on body are more likely to get the same.
A breast enlargement surgery or any procedure which leads to a sudden stretching or shrinking of the skin, leads to stretch marks in the affected skin region.
Using anabolic steroids is another cause of stretch marks.
Cushing’s disease or Marfan syndrome can also lead to stretch marks.
Symptoms of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks appear red in the acute phase of skin stretching. For example, during pregnancy, red stretch marks on stomach appear due to the fast stretching of the skin to support the underlying growth.
When stretch marks first appear, they are red, pink, purple or brown in colour. Their colour varies with an individual’s skin colour.
Stretch marks itch and the affected skin appears raised.
A mature stretch mark appears lighter in colour and there is a small depression in the affected skin.
White stretch marks are a sign of the chronic phase.
Are Stretch Marks Permanent?
Stretch marks are scars in the inner skin tissue. They fade over time but based on one’s skin colour, they may be visible even after their colour has faded. So, it won’t be wrong to say that stretch marks are permanent, but with treatments and home remedies, one may be able to reduce the appearance of these marks.
Stretch Marks Treatment Measures
Creams which contain lipids and peptides are a good way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks on the skin. These ingredients promote skin regeneration and accelerate healing by acting on the collagen and elastin in the skin.
Stretch mark oils having vitamin E nourish the skin with omega fatty acids and helps increase skin elasticity. Vitamin E also has antioxidants which help reduce skin damage due to free radicals.
Creams, lotions or gels used with the purpose to remove stretch marks, have to be massaged onto the affected skin area for some weeks. This treatment may not be effective on mature stretch marks.
Prescription medicines with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and tretinoin can cause stretch marks to be less noticeable, but consult a dermatologist before using these.
Self-tanners can be used as a stretch marks remedy, as they can camouflage the marks and cause them to be less visible.
Dry skin is more likely to tear in the inner layers, which is why hydration is important to stay away from stretch marks.
Vitamin C and proteins help generate collagen, which in turn improves skin regeneration and elasticity. So these nutrients help in healing stretch marks.
Zinc and vitamins D and E promote skin health and can help in preventing stretch marks.
Excessive intake of sugar can damage collagen fibres and increase the possibility of getting stretch marks and tears. So reducing sugar intake is advisable so as to avoid stretch marks.
Medicines and measures like the ones mentioned above are good as teenage stretch marks solutions as well as for stretching marks caused due to pregnancy and weight change.
Medical Procedures to Remove Stretch Marks
Radiofrequency microsurgery, Microneedling, laser therapy, microdermabrasion, ultrasound and chemical peel are some medical procedures used for treating stretch marks.
Radiofrequency microsurgery for stretch marks is minimally invasive and affects the skin layer deep enough to help rejuvenate and tighten the skin. Microneedling treatment for stretch marks helps restart the generation of collagen and thus speeds up the process of healing.
Microdermabrasion for stretch marks is a painless procedure which helps reduce the appearance of white stretch marks. It acts on the upper layer of the skin and helps the skin to tighten the collagen and elastin fibres.
Stretch marks removal by laser treatment is another good way to get rid of these scars. Laser therapy uses pixel erbium-YAG fractional resurfacing lasers to create microscopic wounds, leading to breaking of the tissue below the skin, thus causing the stretch marks to fade away. It also promotes the generation of collagen and renewal of cells thus accelerating new skin formation. Laser resurfacing removes the outer layer of the skin and restructures the skin.
Ultrasound therapy uses an ultrasound machine to reduce scars and stretch marks and improves skin elasticity.
Chemical peels use acids, mainly glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid and salicylic acid to remove the outer skin layer, so that the fresh skin layer underneath takes its place. Salicylic acid breaks down dead skin cells and speeds up healing. Trichloroacetic acid breaks down excess connective tissue and reduces the appearance of stretch marks. Glycolic acid promotes the growth of healthy skin cells.
Stretch marks removal by surgery is also possible. A surgery to remove stretch marks could be a thigh lift, arm lift or a tummy tuck, based on the site of the stretch mark.
So, this was an overview of what causes stretch marks, what are their symptoms and how to achieve their removal. Before deciding on any stretch mark treatment, it is best to consult a dermatologist. One of the best places to approach, for expert advice on stretch marks or any other skin condition, is Clear Skin. They have a team of experienced dermatologists who will guide you well at every step on your journey to attain a healthy and blemish-free skin.