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The Truth Behind Stretch Marks



Stretch marks medically known as striae distensae, are an extremely common finding in both men and women who are past puberty. They appear as linear, thinned skin most often found on the breasts, abdomen, hips, and thighs.

Stretch marks occur when skin stretches and expands quickly and beyond its limit. Tiny tears appear in the supporting layers of skin. The marks may appear due to the rapid hormonal changes and growth associated with puberty, during pregnancy, or with medical diseases, such as Cushing syndrome. Under the microscope, they appear similar to scar tissue. Pregnancy stretch marks are most common on the abdomen, breasts, thighs or buttocks. No curative treatment has been developed; however, moisturizers, massage, microdermabrasion, and laser resurfacing may improve their appearance.

Treatment Of Stretch Marks

The best remedy for stretch marks and the primary way to avoid them is to be careful during pregnancy. Keep your body well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will increase the elasticity of your skin and prevent stretch marks from appearing. Apply generous amounts of rich moisturizing cream on your abdomen, thighs and breasts (cocoa butter cream is a favorite among expecting mothers). This saturates your skin with moisture.

Eat proper nutritious food so that you do not gain more weight than is necessary. Rapid, uncontrollable weight gain is a primary cause of stretch marks. A balanced diet also ensures that you get adequate amounts of Vitamin A, E and C, which help to maintain the suppleness of the skin. Follow a regular exercise routine that will help in maintaining your weight.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid, etc can help with some improvement. Research shows that continued use of a gentle exfoliant can produce collagen production and thicken the dermis over time. Chemical exfoliation can help minimize the appearance of stretch marks.

Retinoids/VitaminA – Retinoids such as Tretinoin (Retin-A) can give some improvement. Why? Research shows that retinoids, which are prescription products, can promote collagen production along with other wonderful benefits to the skin. The higher the concentration the stronger it is and the more potential you can get an irritation.

Laser use is tricky on dark skin. The wrong type of laser can cause discoloration and scarring on darker skin tones. One of the most frequently used lasers for stretch mark removal on dark skin is the excimer laser, which works by stimulating melanin production in light colored stretch marks so that they grow darker and match the skin around them. Stretch marks are a sign of something beautiful. Whether you get stretch marks from pregnancy or from something else, there’s no reason to be ashamed of them. Learning to accept them can actually improve your life.

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