How Do Red and White Stretch Marks Differ from Each Other?

White Stretch Marks
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

You might be wondering why some of your stretch marks are white and silvery and some are red, almost purple. The only difference between these two kinds of stretch marks is the age of the mark. Newer stretch marks tend to be a little bit red and the older ones tend to be white.

Red Stretch Marks and Their Development

Stretch marks are basically tears on the skin, on the dermal layer specifically, caused by over-stretching of the skin due to weight gain/loss, hormonal changes, or pregnancy.

On the onset, stretch marks tend to be reddish/purple and as such are referred to as Striae rubra. This is because as the skin fibers break, tiny tears develop which allows the underlying blood vessels to show through.

Remedy for Striae Rubra

As mentioned, red/purple stretch marks are newer compared to the white ones and will most likely be more responsive to treatment.

The most effective treatment for striae rubra will probably be either Pulse-dye laser treatments or prescription retinoid creams.

  • Pulse-dye Laser Treatments: Pulse-dye laser treatments will improve* the color of your red stretch marks by up to 25-75%. These kinds of lasers deliver light into targeted areas of the skin like blood vessels. The light then destroys the vessels by shrinking them; this will then remove* the discoloration of your stretch marks. Pulse-dye laser treatments have been used since the 80’s to cure* port wine stain birthmarks in babies and children. The treatment is relatively safe but the patient may experience swelling and bruising for a couple of days. Nothing an ice pack can’t fix.
  • Prescription Retinoid (Tretinoin): Studies show that this vitamin A derivative can cause a 14% improvement of newly developed stretch marks. Tretinoin helps with wrinkles and stretch marks by stimulation collagen production which is important in keeping the skin’s elasticity. It does very little for older stretch marks though so it is best to use it for the red ones. Word of caution: although extremely effective, tretinoin is a known teratogenic and should not be used by pregnant or breast feeding women.
Striae Rubra
Striae Rubra

White Stretch Marks and Their Development

White or silver colored stretch marks are marks wherein the blood vessels have constricted and receded leaving the underlying fat tissue visible. The white fat tissues give it that distinct silvery color. These kinds of stretch marks are clinically referred to as Striae alba.

Remedy for Striae Alba

Since they are older marks it will take more than just a topical prescription to lighten them. In fact, most experts will argue that they do not complete go away unless surgically excised; even then, you cannot remove* all of them because there are some sections of skin that are not amenable to excision.

No need to worry however because although your options are limited, you at least have some viable ones.

Remedy for Striae Alba
  • Fractional Non Ablative Laser: through photothermolysis the laser creates micro-“wounds” through several layers of skin. The development of these micro-wounds will trigger a wound healing response from the body which, in time, will replace the wound and the tissue around it with healthier cells and tissue. This is ideal for stretch marks because these marks are technically scars that have not seemed to heal properly, introducing micro-wounds through photothermolysis triggers the body to heal these scars.
  • Surgery: In abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” excess skin and fatty tissue in the abdomen is removed and along with the skin-the stretch marks that used to be there. A similar process may be done for stretch marks on the upper arms and thighs.

The appearance of stretch marks whether red or white still continue to bother men and women all over the world. It comes as great news then that even if we cannot completely eliminate* them, that we now have options to improve* their appearance over time.

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Author

Expert Author : Kelly Everson (Consumer Health Digest)

Kelly Everson is an independent editor, an award-winning writer and an editorial consultant in the health and fitness industries. Currently, she is a contributing editor at Consumer Health Digest.