Stretch marks are scars that appear as long, thin streaks on the skin. They’re caused by rapid changes in growth, and are hence common during puberty, pregnancy, weight training, as well as chronic diseases such as obesity, Marfan syndrome, and Cushing’s syndrome.
Structural proteins, collagen and elastin, play a role in the development of stretch marks; abrupt changes that the body endures inhibit the structural proteins from regulating the skin’s strength and firmness, leading to protein rupture and eventual scarring of the skin. Areas that stretch marks are likely to appear are the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks, flank, and breasts. Stretch marks are more common in women than in men.
While stretch marks have been known to place a negative psychological impact on women and can be a primary cause of low self-confidence, these marks can also be seen as a representation of your body’s growth and maturation — especially during pregnancy, when you’re bringing a new life into the world. Stretch marks are benign and are incredibly common. More than half of all pregnant women develop stretch marks. Something so common it is normal, and usually a result of positive life events should be embraced. However, in the modern context of photoshopping and social media, “society” places a huge emphasis on perfect skin.
We’re also in the age of science, technology and female autonomy. Taking care of our skin and reversing changes that are unappealing to ourselves is fair game.
If you’re interested in improving the appearance of the marks or make them less noticeable, the following treatments can be used:
- Retinoid cream, derived from vitamin A, can improve the appearance of stretch marks less than a few months old. An example of retinoid cream, Tretinoin, helps rebuild collagen and makes the stretch marks look more like normal skin. There are possible side effects to the application of this cream so it is only available with a prescription.
- Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure that allows the development of more elastic skin to grow on the outer layer of skin.
- Chemical Peel removes the top layer of the skin and promotes skin regeneration.
- Light and laser therapies stimulate collagen and elastin growth and provide additional support for the skin.
- Firming cream. There are a lot of brands out there. We recommend FIRM contouring cream from Neora. Clinically tested and shown to help firm and tighten skin for a more toned appearance, Firm Body Contour Cream doubles as an advanced body moisturizer that smooths and hydrates.
(Before and after pictures with 3 months of Neora Frim Contouring Cream)
Keep in mind that no single treatment works for everyone. Also, while people may believe tanning can help get rid of stretch marks, it instead makes them more noticeable as stretch marks don’t tan along with the rest of your skin.
Prevention primarily has to do with maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding rapid fluctuations that affect the skin. Eating a balanced diet consisting of vitamins and minerals is important; Vitamin C can especially help with collagen synthesis and can further help enrich the skin. Also, drinking 6-8 glasses of water everyday ensures your skin is well hydrated and is less prone to tears associated with stretch marks. Maintaining these habits consistently will keep your skin healthy and reduce the occurrence of stretch marks.