It’s time to continue on with our skincare series, and this blog post is about stretch marks. If you’re unfamiliar, stretch marks are usually indented streaks that are often reddish (but can be brown or grey) and appear on the skin after rapid weight gain. They are often a side effect of pregnancy, but can happen as a result of teenage growth spurts, rapidly gaining fat, or even gaining muscle quickly from lifting weights. It’s a result of skin rapidly stretching, and can be worsened by an increase of the hormone “cortisone” in our bodies.
How to Treat Stretch Marks
Over time, they tend to fade and flatten out, especially if you lost weight (or have the baby if they are pregnancy-induced), but there are other ways to diminish them more quickly.
One faster way to remove or decrease stretch marks is through the use of lasers. Pulsed dye laser therapy encourages production of elastin and collagen, which are two healthy parts of tight skin. This treatment is best on newer stretch marks. Fractional photothermolysis is another laser treatment that uses a similar process, but is best for smaller areas of skin. The excimer laser helps stimulate the production of melanin, which helps the color match the rest of your skin. That is only a few of several options, and if you’re considering laser treatment, I encourage you to do thorough research and take the advice of a trusted professional to do the treatment and give recommendations.
Pulsed dye laser therapy encourages production of elastin and collagen
Microneedling can also have a similar effect as lasers, as the skin perceives the puncture wounds from tiny needles as injury, and produces more collagen and elastin to heal them.
For older stretch marks, microdermabrasion, or using tiny crystals to polish the skin and reveal new skin with greater elasticity from underneath the old layers, is a great solution that can help improve your skin’s appearance.
Another way to treat newer stretch marks that are still pink or red is with tretinoin cream (Retin-A or Renova), which restores collagen and gives your skin greater elasticity. However, if you choose to try these solutions, it’s best to wait until you are no longer pregnant (as it is unsafe at that time), and make sure you watch carefully for skin irritation.
You can also camouflage stretch marks. A temporary solution for this is body makeup (like bronzer) or self-tanner, which helps to even out skin tone and blends the stretch marks better into your skin so they are less visible. If you’d like to make that same idea more long-lasting, you can get micro pigmentation done, which is a tattooing procedure that helps to even out tone.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks
Whether you simply don’t want more stretch marks, or you don’t have any and would like to keep it that way, taking great care of your skin and body can go a long way toward preventing them. Not only does a healthy diet, good sleep, and consistent exercise help in avoiding rapid weight gain (and as a result, stretch marks) but it also increases circulation and keeps your skin healthier, which helps prevent them as well. Additionally, making sure that your skin is well cared-for by keeping it moisturized with different creams and oils, and exfoliating regularly keeps it supple and allows for more stretching without permanent change.
Love Your Body
Above all, no matter what, love your body – with or without stretch marks. If you have them, they are likely either a sign of a miracle (a baby!) or a triumph in your life. Of course, since I am a huge advocate of skincare as self-care, I think that investing the money on high-quality products and the time to use them and nurture yourself are both so important, and the prevention or reduction of stretch marks is a happy bonus. You are amazing and deserve to pamper yourself and feel cared for, beautiful and amazing, because that’s what I believe you are!