Stretch marks are streaks perpendicular to the tension lines in the skin. Initially, they look flat reddish, pinkish or purplish lines, depending on how pale or deep your coloring is. Over time, stretch marks appear silvery white or light brown. Stretch marks occur in areas where fat deposits are high such as upper arms, thighs, abdomen, groin and chest.
There are a number of explanations on the mechanism on how stretch marks occur. One is excessive physical stretching of the skin due to pregnancy, extreme weight gain and loss, puberty, and muscle building.
The elastic fibers and collagen in the dermis are ruptured and inflamed which result to the scar-like formation. Since the epidermis (the top part layer of the skin) is flimsy, the stretch marks you see are a product of the damage in the succeeding layer. When the presence of steroid hormones such as glucocorticoids and cortisol in the body are high, collagen production is impaired. This is the case in certain medical conditions like Cushing’s disease and Marfan syndrome, and excessive use of topical steroid creams.
Stretch Marks Treatment
Lotions and Creams:
Lotions are creams can be both preventative and restorative methods against stretch marks. Hydrating the skin is your best weapon against potential stretch mark-related problems. Hence, moisture-rich anti-stretch mark creams and lotions must be applied religiously should you wish to avoid stretch marks. In case stretch marks persisted, special lotions and potions can still be quite effective but those to relatively new reddish or purplish streaks.
Diet and Exercise:
Abrupt gaining or losing weight is one reason for gaining stretch marks; hence having a desired normal weight and maintaining it is of high importance. If you are on slightly chunkier side, resorting to crash diets will not give ample time to your skin to adjust the weight loss, thus resulting in loose skin and stretch marks. If you want to lose or gain weight minus the stretch marks, do it the healthy and proper way.
Pulsed-Dye Laser: Fresh stretch marks best respond to pulsed-dye laser because it targets the vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the stretch marks zone. On top of that, pulsed-dye laser also intensifies collagen and elastic production. The earlier the stretch marks are exposed to pulsed-dye laser, the better the response. However, this type of laser therapy needs time to achieve optimal results.
Fractional Non-ablative Laser:
Fractional non-ablative laser therapy is relatively new to the field of stretch marks removal. Using the latest advanced technology for skin resurfacing and rejuvenation, a laser hand piece is used to deliver concentrated light pulses to stimulate columns of coagulation within the dermal tissues, hence improving skin appearance. Because of the non-ablative nature, speedy recovery is expected.
One of the earliest laser treatments in removing stretch marks, microdermabrasion is performed with a hand-held device that blast crystals on the part of the skin where stretch marks are. These crystals gently scrub the surface of the skin, after which a vacuum removes the same crystals. Microdermabrasion removes the topmost layer of the skin, propelling the growth of another layer. This type of laser therapy is best for aged, silvery white and brown stretch marks.
Laser Skin Tightening:
The whole point of this type of therapy is to tighten loose, saggy skin associated with stretch marks to improve skin appearance. With the help of infrared light pulses, the target dermal tissues are heated to stimulate production of new skin tissues. As soft tissue coagulation occurs, skin tightening in the area of stretch marks occurs. Expected side effects are redness and tightness in the area for a brief period.
The process of chemical peels is done by applying liquids on your skin to scrape away the topmost layer called epidermis. This type of treatment is effective only to stretch marks that are rooted in the epidermis. Once the afflicted skin area in removed, your skin is forced to generate new batches of skin cells to make a new dermal layer. If your stretch marks are old and are rooted in the dermis, the effectiveness of chemical peeling is limited.
The surgical removal of excess fat, loose skin and stretch marks is called tummy tuck or abdominoplasty. This is not for everyone who is afflicted with stretch marks. If your stretch marks are localized in the area, tummy tucks is a good option. However, if your stretch marks are scattered in areas other than the abdomen, consider another option of treatment.
In dermal needling, a tiny roller with very fine needles will be rolled in the skin affected with stretch marks. This action encourages production of new elastin fibers and collagen, prompting improvement of the skin’s tone and texture. Since no scraping of the skin layer occurs, dermal needling is totally safe and pain free. Since dermal needling improves penetration of topical skin care products, this method can be used in combination with anti-stretch marks creams and lotions.
This type of treatment reduces only the appearance of stretch marks via improving blood circulation in the affected area. Endermologie deeply massage the skin by utilizing gentle suctioning and rollers, resulting to the expulsion of toxins.
PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma):
Plate Rich Plasma is an advanced method of erasing unappealing stretch marks. There is no surgery or light pulses involved, only injection of concentrated platelets to the area that require regeneration such as stretch marks. The big catch here is PRP utilizes your own system’s platelets, hence an adverse reaction like rejection is very unlikely.
Stretch marks are colored streaks on the skin perpendicular to the dermal tension lines. The color of those linear streaks depends on the coloring of the person and the age of the stretch marks. Causes of stretch marks are attributed to damaged and inflamed collagen and dermal fibers due to excessive physical expansion of the skin, and increased presence of steroid hormones in the body.
There are many options to treat stretch marks. The natural ways are adapting a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise. Non-abrasive treatment options are lotions and creams, dermal needling and Endermologie while the abrasive ones require the presence of laser therapy and chemical peels. Surgery is another drastic option while platelet self-transfusion is gaining popularity in the mainstream.