Stretch marks are marks that annoy and cause some discomfort. They can appear in any part of the body and do not develop only during pregnancy. Thus, they are frequent in both genders, reaching about 75% of women and 25% of men.
Stretch marks are neither painful nor harmful, but they can be treated to reduce the signs.
Are you curious? Then read more to check it out!
- 1 What are stretch marks?
- 2 How does the skin structure work?
- 3 Types of stretch marks
- 4 What causes stretch marks to appear?
- 5 Risk factors
- 6 Stretch marks in pregnancy: is it normal?
- 7 Stretch marks in adolescence: what are the causes?
- 8 Stretch marks in men
- 9 How do stretch marks look? What are the signs?
- 10 Are stretch marks curable?
- 11 Treatment: what to do to get stretch marks?
- 12 What is the best stretch mark cream?
- 13 Homemade stretch mark treatment
- 14 Homemade recipes
- 15 Cream for stretch marks
- 16 Living together
- 17 Prognosis
- 18 Prevention: how to avoid the appearance of stretch marks?
Stretch marks are lesions acquired when the elastic fibers are broken by a stretch of the skin. They are characterized by an inflammatory process and the way they appear depends on the stage they are in, and may be pink or white.
Stretching happens due to some kind of abrupt change in the body, such as excessive weight gain or pregnancy. This causes collagen and elastin, which support our skin, to break.
Thus, scars are formed due to the thinning of the dermis and epidermis.
Stretch marks are prone to being where your body stores fat, such as in the belly, hips, thighs, breasts and buttocks.
Even though they are not painful or harmful to health, some people are bothered by the visible aspect that the marks leave on the skin.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body and its function is to protect and defend the organism, control the temperature and the secretion and excretion processes. It consists of 3 layers:
- Epidermis : external part of the skin, which encompasses the entire surface of the body. It has no vessels or nerves and has varying thickness. It serves as a mechanical protective layer;
- Dermis : it is essentially formed by collagen and other glycoproteins of the elastic system. It is these structures that provide all the flexibility of the skin. In addition, it has 4 more functions: nutrition, sensitivity, thermoregulation and hydration;
- Hypodermis : layer of adipose tissue, rich in fibers and adipose cells. It serves as an energy reserve and thermal insulator.
Although they are usually noticeable to the eye, it is in the middle layer (dermis) that the stretch marks appear. The dermis is the layer with the highest concentration of collagen and elastic fibers.
The collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, forming the skin, tendons, bones and the vessel walls. However, for collagen to be processed correctly and perform its function properly, it must come into contact with ascorbate (vitamin C), iron, glutamine and arginine.
After this process, the protein is transformed into fibers, which are able to provide support, stability and flexibility to the human body.
Since the elastic fibers are formed by elastin protein more resistant organism. These fibers are found in small amounts on the skin and their degeneration is associated with aging.
The streaks have two colors: pink or white. What defines her color is the stage she is in. Depending on the skin tone, they may appear more purplish.
When pink or red, stretch marks are still in the inflammatory process and are considered recent. White are older, in which the atrophy of collagen fibers has already occurred and for that reason there is no more inflammation.
Understand each one of them:
Red (pink) streaks
They have this color due to the rupture of blood capillaries (small vessels found in the skin). This blood formation is evident on the skin, which, depending on the tone, forms a reddish or purplish welt.
Red streaks are more recent and can be treated, since their capacity for regeneration is greater.
Purple stretch marks are those that are in the middle of the inflammatory process. Those more red or pink marks indicate a recent breakdown of the skin’s fibers. As healing occurs, the tendency is for the marks to darken gradually.
In the future, they will turn white and indicate the end of the inflammatory process.
White streaks (nacreous)
They present this aspect due to the atrophy of melanocyte cells and a decrease in melanin, which is a substance responsible for skin pigmentation.
This area no longer receives proper blood supply at the site, which makes its regeneration capacity much lower compared to the reddish ones.
Stretch marks are caused by a stretch in the skin, which destroys the elastic fibers and collagen in the skin.
These fibers, present in the dermis, are strong and interconnected, allowing the skin to stretch as the body grows. However, excessive or very rapid growth can cause it to break down, causing stretch marks.
Scarring can also be derived from other factors, such as an increase in the level of cortisone in the blood (a hormone that weakens elastic fibers).
Major causes include:
The very rapid changes in the body end up increasing the likelihood of the appearance of stretch marks.
The more weight you gain and the faster this process, the more likely you are to have injuries. That’s because, excessive weight gain and loss causes the skin to stretch, the cause of stretch marks.
Stretch marks affect about 8 out of 10 pregnant women. This is because during pregnancy hormones are produced that soften the skin fibers, to facilitate the baby’s birth.
However, this makes them more prone to stretching the skin, which can favor the breakdown of elastic fibers.
Therefore, hormonal changes and belly growth are the main factors for the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy.
Some medications, such as hormones and corticosteroids, can cause weight gain, swelling or other physical changes that stretch the skin and can lead to stretch marks.
Corticosteroids work similarly to the hormone cortisol. They help to relieve skin inflammation, but in some cases they can decrease the amount of collagen.
Collagen is a protein that helps to keep the skin elastic. The less collagen there is, the more likely you are to develop stretch marks.
Certain pathologies, such as Marfan’s syndrome and Cushing’s disease, can make an individual more likely to acquire stretch marks.
Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the body over-produces the hormone cortisol, which decreases the amount of collagen in the skin. Thus, the likelihood of the skin stretching and streaking is much greater.
Marfan syndrome is caused by a gene that weakens the skin and connective tissues of the body, reducing skin elasticity.
Hormone levels and some genetic factors can influence the process of developing stretch marks, but not everyone develops the condition.
For women, the most common is that stretch marks appear during a period of accelerated growth or in adulthood, during pregnancy.
In the case of men it is more common for stretch marks to appear in places where they undergo excessive weight training and, in some cases, due to the use of anabolic steroids.
In general, the main risk factors are:
- Growth spurts at puberty;
- Weight loss or gain very quickly;
- Rapid muscle growth;
- Placement of breast prosthesis (silicone);
- Bad eating habits;
Stretch marks in pregnancy: is it normal?
Stretch marks in pregnancy are quite common, as this phase brings a series of changes to the female body. The main one is the increase in the belly, which can be noticed in the first and second months of pregnancy .
As the skin cannot keep up with the pressure generated in the abdominal region, it ends up suffering a stretch – which can cause stretch marks.
In the first pregnancy, the appearance of stretch marks is even more common, since the collagen fibers are still firm. This facilitates over-stretching.
During pregnancy there are also many hormonal changes and an intense production of them. Among the hormones produced we can mention estrogen and cortisol, which can weaken the elastic layer of the skin.
Despite this, there are currently numerous treatments that can alleviate the signs of stretch marks, including natural alternatives that do not harm the baby.
Moisturizers, creams and oils are good options to moisturize the skin and decrease the chances of scarring, in addition to helping to make the skin more beautiful and healthy.
However, during pregnancy it is necessary to consult with the dermatologist and the obstetrician before taking any measures.
These professionals can recommend the best cosmetic options for each pregnant woman, which do not harm or affect the health of the mother and baby.
Stretch marks in adolescence: what are the causes?
Teenagers may suffer from stretch marks due to the “growth spurt”. This phase is marked by exaggerated and sudden growth, which causes the skin to stretch beyond normal, leading to the appearance of stretch marks.
In these cases, the most common is that stretch marks appear on the back and arms and prevention ends up being more complicated.
However, for the effect to be less aggressive to the skin, the ideal is to keep it always hydrated. Using body oils and moisturizers prevents skin dryness and reduces the risk of appearance, as it helps to maintain the skin’s elasticity.
Although stretch marks mainly affect women, men can also develop them. In this case, the hormonal factor is the main cause of the condition, which usually occurs due to hormone replacement.
The clinical aspect in both sexes is the same. In addition to genetic causes, stretch marks can appear in men during adolescence, when there is an accelerated growth of the body.
Another very common influencing aspect in men is the appearance of stretch marks due to physical exercises, such as weight training.
The exaggerated load applied in some regions of the body causes the muscles to grow and the skin to stretch too much. Therefore, the ideal is to follow a training that provides a balanced and gradual growth.
The clinical aspect in both sexes is the same, but the disruption of fibers in men occurs mainly in the back and the outer part of the thighs
Stretch marks are not all the same. They vary depending on what caused them and how long you have them. However, there are some common aspects.
Initially, they appear in the form of linear red or purplish lesions, depending on your skin tone. They are more frequent on the thighs, buttocks, back and abdomen and can itch or burn.
In general, they do not show many symptoms. However, before they appear, it is normal for the skin to be sensitive and irritated.
No. This is because the streak represents a rupture of the fibers, that is, there are no more regeneration materials in the place.
However, if the stretch marks are diagnosed when they are still pink (initial phase), the chance of reduction ends up being much greater and the treatments less harmful.
Even the white stretch marks are possible to be softened with the help of aesthetic and dermatological treatments that stimulate the local blood circulation.
In recent years, the demand for aesthetic treatments has generated a great demand for professionals specialized in skin lesions.
Stretch marks are nothing more than atrophic skin lesions, consequently, the number of aesthetic procedures aimed at easing them has also grown.
Currently, the number of treatment options in this area is huge! Most of them are made from acids and all must be recommended by a dermatologist .
Ideally, treatments should be carried out at the beginning of the symptoms, in which stretch marks are still fresh and rosier.
It is important to understand that no single treatment will work for everyone. However, there are some more assertive options, among them:
The manipulation of this acid aims at cell renewal. It has an exfoliative effect on the skin, brightening the affected region. In addition, it stimulates the production of collagen in the dermis, which prevents skin aging.
It can be found in cosmetics, in lower concentrations (up to 10%) or prepared in manipulated formulas. In addition, it can be used for chemical peels in dermatological offices.
Research claims that the application of glycolic acid improves the color and size of stretch marks, but they do not disappear completely.
The application of the acid, associated with lotions, can make the skin more sensitive, so be sure to consult a dermatologist and always use sunscreen.
This procedure uses microneedles that penetrate the surface of the epidermis, inducing collagen production and skin renewal.
Each session lasts an average of 30 to 60 minutes and should be done every 15 days. They usually show results after 5 sessions.
Treatment is contraindicated for people with a tendency to keloid formation and / or with difficulties in healing.
The treatment is done through a device that sucks on the skin, stimulating collagen and improving firmness. Each session lasts an average of 15 minutes and it is recommended to do at least 3 sessions in order to be able to see progress.
It is important to redouble the care with the sun after the procedure, maintaining daily protection with sunscreen.
In addition, in cases of burning or local discomfort, it is recommended to use moisturizers or thermal water to help skin recovery.
Retinoic acid promotes cell renewal and collagen production. Retinol is commonly used in the form of creams and has very positive effects when applied consistently.
By increasing the production of collagen in the body, its regular use facilitates the process of skin regeneration. In addition, it removes dead cells, making the tone uniform and reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
However, this type of treatment requires greater care and sun protection, since it can cause stains.
Laser or pulsed light
The American Society of Dermatological Surgery claims that laser or pulsed light therapy can make stretch marks less noticeable. This is because these procedures leave the tissues of the epidermis intact, which, in general, provides faster and more natural healing.
Understand how each treatment works:
This method is recommended for old stretch marks, as it acts with beams of light that penetrate the skin, stimulating the production of collagen and strengthening the supporting fibers.
It requires few sessions to notice the effect, however, the disadvantage of this type of treatment is the discomfort caused by the applications.
Non-ablative laser (pulsed light)
This type of treatment affects the most superficial layers of the skin and is recommended to treat expression lines, improve texture and to smooth the skin.
Also known as pulsed light, the treatment takes place with a beam of light that promotes the contraction of the dermis, thinning lines and imperfections.
It is considered an effective technique for improving sagging, stretch marks and localized fat. mainly by regenerating the skin and reorganizing the collagen and elastin fibers.
The technique uses the application of medicinal carbon dioxide (CO2) to the skin and adipose tissue, through a needle.
The equipment makes it possible to control the output of the gas flow and volume, according to the needs of each person.
A good alternative for the treatment of older and already whitish stretch marks is radio frequency. Up to 15 sessions are indicated, depending on each skin type.
The treatment takes place with the heating of the skin, in order to stimulate the production of collagen and the cellular metabolism.
The fractional radiofrequency has a technology very similar to that of the fractional CO2 laser. Both consist of electromagnetic waves that allow a deeper treatment, promoting the production of fibroblasts and increasing the production of collagen.
It has a fast recovery time (between 3 to 7 days), but it is not indicated for people with pacemakers or pregnant women.
The chemical peel has the function of inducing a stimulus in the skin through products based on acids, being able to remove dead cells from the surface.
Through peeling, the peeling causes cell renewal and stimulates the production of collagen, improving the firmness and elasticity of the skin.
In order to be able to have good results with the procedure, the ideal is to carry out a previous evaluation with your dermatologist to identify which is the best chemical according to your skin type.
It is considered a quick and simple procedure, which makes the skin more beautiful and, in general, improves the texture and appearance of stretch marks.
Hyaluronic acid acts intensively in the renewal of the skin, not only in the regenerative process, but also increasing the elasticity of the skin.
It has moisturizing and stimulating properties of collagen, helping to fill the spaces between cells.
It can be used in the form of dermocosmetics or tablets, always avoiding sun exposure.
The camouflage of stretch marks is a pigmentation procedure that uses a tone close to that of the skin, in order to make them imperceptible to the eye.
This type of treatment has a similar process to that of tattooing and, therefore, it is definitive and can cause discomfort at the time of the procedure.
It is worth mentioning that each skin acts in a unique way, in addition the results also depend on external factors, such as sun exposure. Therefore, care with these procedures must be redoubled.
Before carrying out any treatment, always consult a specialist doctor – in this case, a dermatologist. As it is a definitive procedure, camouflage deserves even greater attention when choosing the professional who will do the method.
What is the best stretch mark cream?
Creams can be good allies in the treatment of stretch marks. Those that contain substances like creams with retinoic acid, with glycolic acid or with vitamin C are the best options, as they help in the alignment of the skin fibers, making them more uniform. In addition, their appearance is softened.
Homemade stretch mark treatment
When we talk about stretch marks, the ideal is to keep your skin always hydrated, so the chance of elastic fibers breaking is less.
Using urea-based creams or applying moisturizing oils helps to minimize the appearance, but does not treat existing lesions.
In addition, consuming vitamin E in the form of a dietary supplement helps the body to slow down the aging of the skin. Check out:
Exfoliation and hydration
Depending on the severity and the region affected by stretch marks, removing dead cells can help to soften their appearance. In addition, keeping your body always hydrated helps to leave your skin always beautiful and healthy.
Vitamin E is present in several types of foods, such as vegetable oils, meats, eggs, fruits and vegetables, but it can also be found as a form of food supplement. As an antioxidant, it helps to slow down processes that damage cells.
This vitamin can be used for diseases and skin aging, in addition to sunburn.
Vitamin E is usually safe for most people when taken orally or applied to the skin. Dosage may vary. Therefore, before making any use, always consult a responsible doctor.
Some substances and ingredients contain vitamins and natural compounds that can help to combat stretch marks.
However, it is necessary to reaffirm that homemade methods do not have scientific proof and can bring risks if they are not accompanied by a health professional.
Know some options:
Rosehip + almond oil
After bathing, apply a little rosehip oil to the stretch marks, massaging. Then add a little almond oil in a circular motion.
The rosehip is known to be a rich source of vitamin C, a component that acts as a tissue regenerator. In addition, it contains acids that reduce scars and skin blemishes.
Avocado + Aloe Vera
Use ½ avocado, 1 leaf of aloe vera and 1 small spoon of olive oil. Add the ingredients in a blender until it forms a paste. With it, do circular massages on the affected areas, allowing to act for 20 minutes. Then rinse with cold water.
Avocado is a food rich in vitamins E, A, B1 and B2, in addition to being a powerful antioxidant, rich in iron, protein and mineral substances. It acts as a restorative and preservative for the skin. Aloe vera helps cutaneous hydration.
The use of stretch mark removal creams turns out to be less effective than the treatments mentioned above. However, they can help in preventing the appearance of stretch marks.
These products act in the healing and cell renewal of the skin. Below we have separated some options for you:
Cicatricure is a very popular gel when it comes to stretch marks. It promises to assist in the recovery of damaged superficial tissues and is indicated to moisturize and repair the skin texture.
In addition, it can help to decrease the coloring of scars, such as stretch marks.
In general, the cream seeks to help hydrate and improve the quality of the skin, which regenerates in a better way. In addition, the use of the cream seeks to prevent new lesions from arising.
Before starting the application, always talk to a specialist doctor. Let me know if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, with any type of disease or skin problem or if you are taking any medication.
During treatment, watch for signs of skin irritation, redness, swelling or hives. Whenever this happens, discontinue using the product.
Anti-Stretch Signature Oil Nivea Q10
The formula of anti-stretch mark firming oil is enriched with 2 powerful antioxidants, Q10 and Vitamin C. Together, these ingredients seek to fight free radicals, ensuring a firmer and more elastic skin.
In addition, the product aims to provide intense hydration and is highly recommended for people with dry skin.
Velastisa Antiestrias Elasticity Enhancer
The product promises to act in the reduction of the marks, besides favoring the elasticity of the skin, moisturizing and preventing future marks.
It is highly recommended for use in pregnant women, with distended skin during pregnancy and postpartum. It is also indicated for people in the growth phase or in people who suffer from weight change.
Mustela Maternité Stretch Mark Serum
This product aims to reduce the marks caused by the stretching of fibers during and after pregnancy, in addition to improving the texture of the skin.
With a combination of natural ingredients, the formula has actives that regenerate the fibers, increasing the skin’s hydration level.
Before using any dermocosmetic, consult a dermatologist.
Even if they do not harm your health, stretch marks can be a factor of aesthetic discomfort and, therefore, treatments to soothe them are highly requested.
Many of them can be totally irreversible and, in such cases, the best way is to learn to live with them and accept your own body.
However, there are some treatments and measures that can mitigate the signs, facilitating this acceptance process.
Check out tips on how to deal with brands:
Bet on self-tanners
Self-tanners are lotions and sprays that darken the stretch marks, leaving them in a more uniform tone. You can try different products and in different shades to see what works best for you.
Take care of the emotional
Some dermatological conditions, such as stretch marks, should not be trivialized. This is because many of them end up having a psychological and emotional impact on the patient’s life.
Certain people tend to be socially isolated, develop low self-esteem or other problems related to personal image, due to these marks.
If stretch marks are causing symptoms like these, do not hesitate to seek psychological help. Each person has their own way of reacting to bodily changes and seeking help in these cases can be fundamental to the process.
If the treatment is carried out at the very beginning of the formation, when the stretch marks are still pink, the results may be satisfactory. However, when the brands are more whitish, the prospect of regeneration is less.
The results of treatments are variable, and there may be both an important improvement and little change in the appearance of the marks.
Stretch marks do not evolve and change stages after the whitish phase, but they must be prevented before they are permanently installed.
Maintaining a healthy weight and a balanced diet is the best way to prevent stretch marks. However, there are also some daily cares that can prevent the appearance of scars, among them are:
- Avoid fast weight gain;
- Always keep your body and skin well hydrated;
- Drink at least 2 liters of water a day;
- Practice physical exercises regularly;
- Eat well, eating plenty of vitamin A, C and D important antioxidants that help maintain the dermis.
It is important to follow a balanced diet associated with the practice of physical exercises, in order to contribute to an ideal weight and the improvement of the quality of life.
Want more tips on how to take care of your skin and health? Here at Minute Healthy you will find these and other guidelines to have a better life!