Men and women around the world suffer from stretch marks. Thanks to growth spurts, pregnancy and general weight fluctuations, our skin can become compromised and those sneaky little stretch marks can just pop out of nowhere.
Stretch marks are particularly upsetting because they are bright and noticeable on your skin. Not to mention they can be very difficult to get rid of.
Having stretch marks can affect your self confidence and make you feel self conscious about your body.
The good news is, there are several remedies for reducing the appearance of stretch marks and we’ve got them all right here for you. We’re also going to give you a few tricks for preventing stretch marks in the first place.
So go on and read on…
STRIPPING IT DOWN
- What Are Stretch Marks?
- How Do Stretch Marks Form?
- What Causes Stretch Marks?
- How to Prevent Stretch Marks
- How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks Naturally
- How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks Surgically
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are exactly what they sound like – marks formed as a result of your skin over stretching.
In more formal terms, stretch marks are a form of scarring that are also referred to as ‘striae.’
Striae appear on your skin as small, discoloured scars (usually red or purple in colour) and can be caused by so many factors.They typically appear on the areas of your body where you are most likely to hold more weight; belly, thighs, breasts, arms and your bum.
When your skin stretches rapidly it can tear and it’s this trauma to the skin that kickstarts the stretch mark scarring process. Of course, over time these tears will heal but more often than not, they will leave behind a nasty little reminder in the form of a stretch mark.
How Do Stretch Marks Form?
Your skin is made up of several layers, the epidermis (outer layer), dermis (middle layer), and hypodermis (deepest layer). The dermis is responsible for housing your connective tissue, hair follicles and sweat glands. It is in this middle layer that stretch marks begin to form.
The dermis is composed of collagen, elastin and other supportive cells that make up the extra fibrillar matrix. Collagen and elastin are proteins that provide your skin with strength and elasticity to keep it strong and healthy looking.
Unfortunately, when we don’t have enough collagen and elastin or it is compromised by factors like overexposure to the sun, dehydration or age, to name a few, your dermis becomes weakened and more susceptible to stretch marks.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
There are a many things that cause stretch marks and not all of them are as obvious as you might think. Let’s explore a few of these causes…
Puberty or Growth Spurts
During adolescence your body begins to change and new hormones begin to take over. For some people this results in growth spurts, as well as breast development in women.
These sudden changes can overwhelm your skin and your body may not be able to produce the amount of collagen it needs to support these changes. Ultimately this may lead to small stretch marks.
Pregnancy Stretch Marks
Approximately 90% of women who get pregnant experience stretch marks. This type of stretch mark is called striae gravidarum and is specific to the abdominal region. Obviously this is a result of sudden weight gain during the course of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy stretch marks aren’t just localized to the stomach though. Many women start to notice them around their thighs and breasts as well.
Studies have shown that there are additional factors that contribute to your chances of getting stretch marks from pregnancy. Women who are younger during their pregnancy, have a higher body mass index, gain more than 33 pounds or those who birth babies that are heavier in weight are more likely to get stretch marks.
Perhaps the most interesting finding in some of these studies is that pregnant teens are at the highest risk of developing stretch marks. We find this shocking because you would just assume that someone of a younger age would be more likely to recover from the stress of pregnancy.
Stretch Marks from Extreme Weight Gain or Loss
Weight fluctuation, whether it’s gaining or losing significant amounts of weight, can put a serious amount of stress on your skin.
Constant stretching and rebounding of the skin can create stretch marks. With extreme weight gain stretch marks form because your skin tears causing striae.
In the case of weight loss, when you are at your heaviest your skin will likely have torn but their effects were hidden because your skin was firm. Weight loss gives your skin the chance to relax and hang, for lack of a better word. It is then that the damage becomes noticeable.
Medications and Creams that Cause Stretch Marks
There are certain medications and lotions that can cause stretch marks. Corticosteroid creams and pills can cause stretch marks because they reduce your skin's ability to stretch.
Essentially, corticosteroids disrupt your production of collagen while simultaneously thinning your skin. This combination wreaks havoc on your dermis and leaves it vulnerable to stretch marks.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks
Sadly there is no definitive evidence on what prevents stretch marks, but there are several ways you can reduce your risk.
Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the stress on your skin caused by weight fluctuation. Obviously you cannot control growth spurts, but managing your weight can be beneficial.
Your skin requires lots of hydration in order to stay healthy, Health professionals recommend anywhere between 72-104 ounces of water daily for ideal hydration.
A healthy diet rich in vitamins and nutrients can help you prevent stretch marks as well. Vitamins C, D and E, along with zinc promote skin strength and cell regeneration.
How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks Naturally
There are so many natural remedies for getting rid of stretch marks. If you like a good DIY then you’ll definitely want to check out some of the below natural remedies.
Essential Oils for Stretch Marks
Helichrysum oil comes from an evergreen herb. It contains anti-inflammatory, analgesic and diuretic properties among many other benefits.
For stretch marks, this essential oil helps improve your blood flow and circulation allowing damaged skin to receive the regeneration it needs to heal stretch marks.
Sage is another essential oil that contains similar properties to those of helichrysum. It is a big more potent than helichrysum and is not recommended for pregnant women.
Another good essential oil for stretch marks is rosehip oil. Rosehip oil is high in essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins that are great for your skin. It is easy on your skin and helps hydrate and strengthen your skin to prevent stretch marks from forming.
Homemade Stretch Mark Serum
A quick and effective homemade stretch mark serum can help you hydrate your skin and give it the nourishment it needs to prevent stretch marks. Or at the very least, reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
To make your own homemade stretch mark serum you will need:
- 2 teaspoons Rosehip oil
- 2 teaspoons Jojoba oil
- 1 tablespoon Vitamin E oil
- 10 drops Helichrysum oil
- 5 drops Lemon oil
- 1 small glass bottle
Making this stretch mark serum is simple. Just mix all of your ingredients together in your glass bottle and shake like mad to mix it up. Before each use you will need to give the bottle a good shake as oils tend to separate from one another.
Gently massage this serum into your stretch marks and let it soak in all the goodness.
If you want a more cream-like substance you can add these ingredients to cocoa or shea butter. Blend together and let it harden up a little before use.
Together these ingredients fight to lighten the appearance of stretch marks by renewing your skin cells, strengthen your skin from the inside out and bleaching the existing stretch marks.
If you are pregnant it is best to consult your physician before using this serum as some essential oils may be harmful to your growing baby.
DIY Microdermabrasion for Stretch Marks
Similar to treating acne or hyperpigmentation, microdermabrasion is incredibly beneficial for rejuvenating your skin.
Microdermabrasion gentle sloughs away dead skin cells that may be preventing new, healthier skin from shining through.
The effects of microdermabrasion go so much further than that though. Not only does this process gently clear junk from the outer layers of your skin, but it helps stimulate circulation which promotes healthy circulation. Increased circulation to helps improve cellular regeneration and can help repair damaged skin, or in this case, stretch marks.
To create your very own DIY microdermabrasion for stretch marks, you will need:
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 1/2 cup liquid coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
In a bowl, mix all of your ingredients together. The consistency should be a chunky paste.
This can get a bit messy so we recommend standing in the shower or bathtub for this. Dampen your skin with warm water and then using your hands, massage this DIY all over your affected skin using circular motions.
The trick with this microdermabrasion scrub is to be very gentle. You don’t want to rub your skin raw because this will only cause further skin irritation and may cause more tearing that will only exacerbate your stretch marks.
After massaging into your skin for 2 minutes, rinse off with warm water. Follow up with your favourite moisturizer to give our skin some much needed hydration.
How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks Surgically
There are a handful of more clinical and surgical options for removing stretch marks.
Laser Treatments for Stretch Marks
To reduce the appearance of stretch marks you can try laser treatments. Laser treatments for stretch marks gently resurface your skin by targeting your affected skin and removing very thin layers of skin around the stretch marks.
The skin is not burned away, instead the laser disrupts the molecular structure of it and the affected skin disintegrates.
This process also helps stimulate skin cells and promotes natural collagen production for stronger skin.
Tummy Tuck for Stretch Marks
An abdominoplasty, more commonly referred to as a tummy tuck, is the only permanent and guaranteed way of getting rid of stretch marks on your stomach.
This surgical procedure removes excess skin from your stomach and tightens the abdominal muscles. This surgery only targets stretch marks that are below the navel because that is the area where excess skin is discarded.
Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for a tummy tuck. Candidates must be in good health, be non-smokers and have quite a lot of excess skin in their abdominal region.
Whether you choose to deal with your stretch marks naturally or surgically, you have plenty of options.
You deserve to feel comfortable in your skin and getting rid of stretch marks may just be the first step.
Tell us, what have you done to reduce the appearance of stretch marks on your skin? Share in the comment section below.