What Causes Stretch Marks: Prevention, Natural Remedies & Treatment
Stretch marks most commonly appear as unsightly red streaks on the abdomen, buttocks and upper thighs. They may also be seen on the knees, calf of the legs, shoulders, breasts and upper arms. Fresh stretch marks are red, slightly raised and may be associated with some itching or discomfort. As the marks mature, they become fine, silvery white in colour and less prominent. Mature marks usually do not have any itching or pain. Today, I shall be discussing about the causes, prevention and treatment of stretch marks.
Causes Of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks appear whenever the skin is stretched suddenly or when the skin deflates suddenly. This common causes of stretch marks are pregnancy, sudden weight gain or weight loss and sometimes also during the sudden height spurt of puberty.
In very rare occasions, the stretch marks may suggest an underlying hormonal problem. If stretch marks are very severe or appear in unusual sites or in the young people without any clear identifiable cause, then the doctor may recommend some blood tests.
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How to Prevent Stretch Marks: Natural Remedies For Stretch Marks
In some situations, it may be impossible to avoid stretch marks completely. Pregnancy and the height spurt of pregnancy being such common situations. However, it is possible to reduce the stretch marks and minimize their appearance by following the below mentioned points.
1) Avoid sudden weight gain and loss
Even during pregnancy, one is less likely to have stretch marks if there is a slow steady weight gain rather than a sudden weight gain in a particular month. Sudden weight gains and weight loss should be minimised as much as possible. The most damaging effects happen when people go on yo-yo diets.
2) Moisturize the skin
One of the best natural remedies for stretch marks is keeping the skin well hydrated by using a moisturiser during pregnancy and after delivery. Hydrated skin is more supple and less likely to develop stretch marks. This should be followed even when you are trying to lose weight to prevent stretch marks.
3) Oil Massages
Almond oil, vitamin E containing oils have been used for massages with the aim of reducing them. Whether it is the hydrating quality that works or the active ingredients that work is uncertain. Regular oil massages are another popular natural home remedy for preventing stretch marks.
Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins (especially vitamin E and C) and minerals like zinc and silicon helps to keep the skin healthy.
Also Read: Home Remedies For Glowing Skin
Treatment & Remedies For Stretch Marks
Once the stretch marks appear, they can be minimised by early treatment. The treatment for stretch marks are as follows:
1) In the early stages scar or stretch mark reducing creams like those containing polysiloxane, hyaluronic acid or retinoid may be effective in reducing them. These creams may be used in the first year when the marks are red and itchy. The marks fade away and become silvery white in the first year.
2) Once the stretch marks are mature and have been present for a year, treatments are required to reduce their appearance. The treatments for stretch marks include:
In this, a dermaroller is rolled on the skin. The dermaroller produces tiny wounds which are invisible to the naked eye. These then heal by laying down new collagen. The collagen fills up the stretch marks, makes the skin firmer and greatly reduces the appearance of the stretch marks. A minimum of 6 sessions are required & are carried out once every week or once every 2 weeks. This is combined with Vitamin C tablets which aids the healing process. Results start to appear 6 weeks after the treatments are started. The maximum benefit is seen after 3 months of the last session. Although there is a disadvantage of slow improvement, it is made up by the permanence of benefits and the fact that healing is all natural and permanent. Side effects are also minimal with no permanent side effects.
- Laser Treatment For Stretch Marks
The principle behind LASER is the same as that behind micro needling. This also involves producing invisible and small wounds in the skin which then heals. In comparison to microneedling, fewer sessions are required. Typically 3 sessions of LASER produces the same benefit as 6 sessions of microneedling. However, the LASER requires a gap of 4-6 weeks between each session. Side effects are temporary and include some redness and swelling which settles down in a day. Sometimes, there may be pigmentation of the skin which may take upto 6 months to settle down. Apart from this, there are no long term or permanent side effects.
- Chemical Peeling Treatment For Stretch Marks
A deep peel may be used to manage stretch marks. This treatment is more effective in areas where the stretch marks are more or less flat that is, they do not appear sunken beneath the skin. Also the skin texture has not changed much. They are very effective where there are tiny streaks that are slightly darker than the surrounding skin. The number of sessions required is highly variable and depends upon the duration for which the person has had stretch marks (the older the stretch marks, the more sessions are required), the skin type of the individual concerned and the age of the person. Generally younger people with good healthy habits and an active healthy lifestyle respond better. A minimum of 3 sessions are required to see improvement.
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In this, small amounts of a skin renewing factor is injected into the stretch marks. This helps to fill up the hollowness caused by the stretch mark and also makes the skin appear firmer and softer. Multiple sessions are required. The side effects include pain and a temporary redness but there are no permanent side effects.
- Procedures like microdermabrasion, Intense Pulsed light treatments are also carried out but benefits are minimal.
Guest Post By Dr Sirisha Singh
MBBS, MD (Dermatology), MRcGP (UK), Dip Derm (London).
About Dr Sirisha Singh
Consultant Dermatologist and Aesthetic Dermatologist, The Skin Centre, NDSE Part 2.
Dr. Sirisha Singh, the Founding Member and Partner Consultant of The Skin Center, is highly qualified with 8 years of work experience in the United Kingdom. A well-known name in Dermatology and academic circles , she keeps in touch continuously with all the latest trends in anti-ageing medicine and dermatology. The Skin Center is a leading skin care center in South Delhi offering fundamental services covering a wide array of skin care solutions and skin treatments including dermatology and cosmetology consultations
All LASERS on the head and neck area are performed by Dr Sirisha Singh herself and she also personally supervises LASER treatments on other parts of the body.