Let’s first understand what exactly stretch marks are. Our skin is basically made of three different layers: epidermis (outermost layer), dermis (the layer in the middle), and the hypodermic (innermost layer). Many times, the connective tissue which is in the dermis, or the middle layer of the skin, is stretched very quickly or more than required. This sudden expansion and contraction of the skin results in streaks, marks, or blemishes commonly referred to as “stretch marks.”
Stretch marks after pregnancy or puberty are very common. During these phases of life, the body rapidly undergoes a number of changes which causes an impact on the skin, too. Sometimes, the collagen (protein which makes up the connective tissue) is also overstretched, leading to blemishes or stretch marks. Breasts, stomach, arms, thighs, and buttocks are some common areas where stretch marks generally occur.
Factors which may also lead to stretch marks are:
- obesity and rapidly losing or gaining weight;
- adrenal gland disorders like Marfan syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
- hereditary factors;
- using steroid-based creams, ointments, and lotions; and
- undergoing breast enhancement surgery.
Although there is no sure way of preventing stretch marks, with modern-day creams and homemade remedies, it’s quite possible to reduce their effect. Also note that there are no skin care products or treatments that guarantee 100% removal of stretch marks; however, most of them help to make it lighter and less visible.
Eating right and exercising regularly help to prevent stretch marks, although this is not possible and should not be done during pregnancy, as stretch marks is a common occurrence during this period.
Professional Treatments That Remove Stretch Marks
Using retinoid- or tretinoin-based creams assist in eliminating stretch marks to some extent. These creams improve collagen, which is responsible for the skin’s elasticity. Please note that such creams should only be used after a consulting a dermatologist, especially during pregnancy.
For stretch marks on the arms that are new and still red or purple, pulsed dye laser therapy is a good option. The treatment boosts growth of new collagen and elastin in the skin. However, dark-skinned individuals may see some skin discoloration with this method. Fractional photothermolysis also uses laser treatment for minimizing stretch marks. It’s a good method to treat stretch marks on the arms since the method targets small areas in one setting.
For stretch marks on breasts, microdermabrasion works effectively. It uses tiny crystals to polish the skin and reveal the blemish-free layer underneath. It also reduces previous stretch marks. Stretch marks on bums can be taken care of with the use of an excimer laser that stimulates the melanin under the skin to match its appearance to the surrounding skin.
Effective Stretch Marks Removal Products on Amazon
- The Body Merry Vanilla Orange Stretch Marks & Scars Defense Cream helps to prevent, reduce and fade scars and stretch marks. Loaded with cocoa, Shea butter and vitamins, the product can be used by everyone and also comes with a 90-day manufacturer guarantee from Amazon and is priced at $17.99.
- Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter contains jojoba and Shea butter and no phthalates, parabens, petrolatum or SLS. Fragrant-free and specially designed for moms-to-be, it costs $11.55 on Amazon.
- Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks is a concentrated, dermatologist-approved cream that improves the appearance of stretch marks. It is priced at $4.22 on Amazon.
- Made with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and argan oil, CeraVe Intensive Stretch Marks Cream helps to repair and restore the protective skin barrier. The cost is $6.49 on Amazon.
- Nature’s Design Bye Bye Stretch Marks works effectively to reduce pregnancy stretch marks, fine lines, and wrinkles. Amazon offers a money-back guarantee if not satisfied with the product. A jar costs $15.77.
- Priced at $12.98 the Bio-Oil Liquid Purcellin Oil is clinically proven and helps with uneven skin tone, as well as with dry and aging skin, without clogging pores. A No. 1 selling product in 18 countries, Bio-Oil is ideal for all skin types and is dermatologist recommended.
- New York Biology 100% Natural Arabica Coffee Body Scrub works by exfoliating the skin to lighten stretch marks, varicose veins, and spider veins. The anti-cellulite organic product is FDA approved and a 12-ounce jar costs $14.95 on Amazon.
- Another best-selling product on Amazon, the TriLASTIN Maternity Stretch Mark Prevention is natural, non-greasy, and a safe solution to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. It costs $33.00 on Amazon.
Home Remedies for Stretch Marks
Castor oil: An ideal and nourishing ingredient for skin, castor oil can be applied on the affected area and massaged for 10 to 15 minutes. Follow it up by applying some heat for half an hour. This tip works effectively for minimizing stretch marks on the belly area.
Aloe vera: A cooling and healing ingredient, aloe vera can be used on its own, or combined with the oil from vitamin A and vitamin E capsules, and rubbed on the area until completely absorbed. Do this daily.
Lemon juice: It’s great for reducing acne and stretch marks. Simply rub a cut lemon on stretch marks for 10 minutes and rinse. Alternatively, for sensitive skin, use lemon juice mixed with cucumber juice in the same manner.
Olive oil: This natural ingredient promotes collagen production. Combined with aloe vera pulp, the mixture works effectively to treat stretch marks. Mix both ingredients and use on the breasts and stomach.
Egg whites: Rich in amino acids and proteins for new cell growth, egg whites can be used on stretch marks by rubbing them on the affected area, allowing it to stay for 10 minutes, and then rinsing it off.
Sugar: A natural exfoliator, granulated sugar mixed with almond oil and lemon juice is an effective stretch mark treatment. Use this for a month every day before a shower for lightening the appearance of stubborn stretch marks.
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“Stretch marks,” Mayo Clinic web site, January 7, 2016; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stretch-marks/home/ovc-20169154, last accessed February 2, 2017.
“How to remove stretch marks from breast at home,” Wound Care Society web site, July 16, 2015;
http://woundcaresociety.org/how-to-remove-stretch-marks-from-breast-at-home, last accessed February 2, 2017.
“STRETCH MARKS,” Natural Remedies.org web site; http://www.naturalremedies.org/stretch-marks/, last accessed February 2, 2017.