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Advice on Stretch Marks

Updated on November 30, 2015
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New treatments can minimize these unwanted effects of weight fluctuations or pregnancy.

Since stretch marks are nearly impossible to erase, here’s an advice on how to minimize them.

The Basic Facts

The skin is made up of layers: The outermost layer, or epidermis, is the part you see; the middle layer, or dermis, contains connective tissue, small blood vessels, nerves and cells that produce collagen. (Two fibers, collagen and elastin, weave through the dermis, giving skin flexibility and firmness.) A stretch mark results when the skin tears after being expanded beyond its limits. The tear causes the connective tissue to break down; the collagen fibers pull apart and the elastic fibers rip and clump together along the edges of the stretch mark.

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What To Look For

The reasons stretch marks show up on the skin:

  • Sudden weight fluctuations, pregnancy or rapid muscle bulking all can lead to stretch marks.
  • A change in hormone levels triggered by pregnancy, obesity or even weight lifting prevents collagen and elastin fibers from forming properly. Without its normal support structure in place, expanding skin is more prone to dermal tearing.
  • Darker skin tones show stretch marks more than lighter skin tones. When dermal tears occur, the melanin (pigment in skin) production can be disrupted. These pale marks are more noticeable on darker skin.

Simple Solutions

There is help for these skin marks. Beauty Rx:

  • See a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for macrodermabrason, which uses sea salt and pressure from a compression device to resurface skin. Afterward, a tretinoin cream (a prescription-strength retinoid that stimulates collagen production and strengthens connective tissue) can be applied via ultrasound, which helps drive the ingredients into the skin. Note: This procedure is not suitable for pregnant women.

  • Apply lotions with plant extracts and/or essential oils (like Erbaviva Stretch Mark Cream and Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil) or a tretinoin cream like Retin-A; all may help.

What Works

We have not yet seen any great results in treating stretch marks with lasers. Macrodermabrasion is by far the most effective way to treat stretch marks to date. Pain level is minimal and patients are very happy with results. There is nothing that you can apply to your skin to keep stretch marks from occurring.

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