1. What are Stretch Marks?
Strech marks are scars left behind when skin is overstretched, and fibers in the middle layer (dermis) have broken. They most often occur during pregnancy, bodybuilding, extreme weight gain, occasionally puberty and are usually found on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, legs, and upper arms. Fresh stretch marks appear initially as red lines and then slowly fade to a pale white color over the course of several months. While it is possible to reduce and even eliminate the appearance of stretch marks, it is much easier to prevent them.
2. How to Prevent Stretch Marks
Since stretch marks occur when skin is stretched to the limit of its elasticity – it follows that the best prevention is either to reduce the cause of stretching or to increase elasticity (or both).
Increase your Skin’s Elasticity
- Skin Creams and Lotions – Lotions containing cocoa butter are rumored to not only help reduce stretch marks, but to help prevent them entirely. Any cream or oil that is made specifically for the prevention or treatment of stretch marks will help keep your skin healthy and elastic. If you are pregnant or breast feeding consult your doctor first as lotions can contain ingredients that may be passed to your unborn baby or into breast milk.
- Vitamin A, E & C – Supplementing these vitamins may help increase the strength and elasticity of the collagen within your skin and reducing your chance of forming stretch marks.
- Stay hydrated. Ever try to squeeze a dry sponge?
3. Stretch Mark Removal
If you’re more concerned with getting rid of stretch marks than preventing them, read on. There are many methods to choose from, ranging from home remedies for stretch marks, to medical and cosmetic procedures. You will notice that every single one of these remedies also helps promote the overall health of your skin – the healthier your skin is, the better it can heal itself. Always consult your doctor before undergoing any treatment, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
Home Remedies to Remove Stretch Marks
- Time – Stretch marks, like all types of scarring fade over time.
- Retin-A (Tretinoin) – 0.1% Tretinoin creams have been shown to significantly reduce the appearance of stretch marks in a study published in the May 1996 Archives of Dermatology. See your doctor for a prescription. These creams work best when used on fresh stretch marks. WARNING: Do not use tretinoin treatments if you are pregnant of breast feeding as the active ingredient may be passed to the unborn child or the breast milk.
- Exfoliate daily – use a loofah or scrunchy to remove daily.
- Vic’s Vapor Rub – Many people have reported success using Vic’s Vapor rub by applying it to a washcloth or paper towel and rubbing it forcefully into the scarred skin on a nightly basis for a few weeks.
- Increase Circulation – by taking hot baths and massaging the areas regularly.
- Tanning – Go sunbathing! Tanning can diminish and even eliminate minor stretch marks. Be sure to use sun screen.
- Vitamin E Gel – Break open vitamin E capsules and rub the oil into the skin over the stretch marks daily for 2 weeks.
- Unstretch the skin – After the skin returns to its normal, unstretched size, stretch marks often become nearly invisible.
- Stretch Mark Creams and Lotions – Using stretch mark creams and stretch mark lotions that heal and beautify your skin can reduce the appearance of stretch marks. The following ingredients are widely accepted as beneficial for this purpose:
- Cocoa butter
- Rose hip oil
- Emu oil
- Jojoba oil
- Castor oil
- Shea butter
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Know of any more? Please use the form at the bottom of the page to share them with other visitors here.
Medical Procedures for Stretch Marks
- Microdermabrasion – Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure popular in spas and salons where the top-most layer of skin is removed by chemical or mechanical means.
- Endermologie – Endermologie machines massage and work the skin in order to increase circulation and expel toxins.
- Laser Therapy – There are several different types of stretch mark laser treatments available that can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and heal you skin. See your dermatologist for the latest information on these methods.
- Cosmetic Surgery – Strech marks typically appear below the belly button and the only way to remove abdominal stretch marks is with a tummy tuck. During a tummy tuck some of the skin below the belly button is removed. For stretch marks that appear on other areas of the body cosmetic plastic surgery can help depending on the areas affected.