Strech Mark Therapy

Stretch Marks 101: All you need to know

5 min read

Stretch marks can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age or skin type. While pregnancy is a common cause of stretch marks for women, men are also prone to stretch marks caused by growth spurts during puberty, sudden weight gain or a quick increase in muscle mass during sports. Maybe your stretch marks don’t bother you or you don’t care about them but you probably don’t want to let them tell your story. While your stretch marks will most likely never completely disappear, they usually fade with time, especially when properly treated. The sooner you start, the better the results.

So dive in and find out all you need to know to keep your story yours to tell!

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are rippled streaks, medically also called striae, which most commonly appear on the stomach, breasts, buttocks, thighs, and upper arms. Their appearance depends on the skin type and color. On pale skin, stretch marks can appear red, pink, purplish-blue, or white. On darker skin, stretch marks usually appear whitish or darker than the surrounding skin.

What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks appear when the skin is stretched too fast for the underlying connective tissue to keep up with the spurt. The connective tissue is the support structure that gives the skin its strength and elasticity. It is mainly composed of collagen bundles and elastic fibers. The collagen bundles are aligned parallel to the surface of the skin, tightly packed and bound together to provide strength, resilience, and support. During rapid stretching, the connections between bundles can rupture so that the bundles separate. The gap is then filled with newly produced collagen, causing a type of scar – the stretch mark.[1]

Who gets stretch marks?

Typically, people immediately think of pregnancy when they hear the word stretch mark. And yes, pregnancy is one of the most common causes for stretch marks, as the growing baby stretches the belly while hormone changes weaken the connective tissue. For this reason up to 90% of women get stretch marks from pregnancy,[2,3] but over 25% of sufferers are men (HRA internal). Several scenarios, such as growth spurts during puberty, sudden weight gain, or a quick increase in muscle mass can cause stretch marks on people.

How prone you are to getting stretch marks seems to be influenced by genetics and hormones.[1,3] Increased steroid levels due to medication, or certain diseases, such as Cushing’s, Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome might also weaken the connective tissue and increase the risk of stretch marks.

How do stretch marks age?

The appearance of stretch marks depends on skin type and color. On pale skin, fresh stretch marks usually appear as red or pink to purplish-blue streaks. Here the skin may appear very thin or slightly elevated and might be itchy. During this phase inflammation might occur.[1] Over time, as the cleft in the connective tissue heals, they become more scar-like: thinner, paler, and rather indented.

How can I prevent stretch marks?

The best way to reduce the risk of stretch marks, including during pregnancy, is to maintain a healthy weight and to keep your skin hydrated and supple. You can support this drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, rich in zinc and vitamins C and E to support skin regeneration,[4] and through regular exercise to stay active and keep up your circulation. You should additionally apply heavy moisturizers to directly support your skin’s hydration. There are several topical creams and oils on the market, some are available by prescription, but most can be obtained over the counter. Mederma® Stretch Marks Therapy brings together Cepalin® botanical extract, Hyalluronic Acid, and Centella Asiatica extract in an intensive cream formula to visibly reduce stretch marks and hydrate the skin.[5]

Mederma® is the #1 recommended brand of Stretch Mark Creams among Dermatologists*

Prevention during pregnancy: With a baby growing in your belly, gaining weight and girth is hardly avoidable. Therefore, stretch marks tend to develop during the sixths or seventh month of pregnancy, caused by stretching of the connective tissue which is weakened by hormonal changes. During this time you should directly support the skin of your belly, buttocks, and breasts by applying oils or creams containing soothing and softening ingredients, such as bitter almond oil, olive oil, shea butter or vitamin E oil several times per day. Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy combines botanical ingredients in a formula that hydrates your skin to help prevent stretch marks. It is clinically shown to improve the appearance of stretch marks[5] and is safe to use during pregnancy, beginning in the second trimester, and while breastfeeding.

How can I treat stretch marks?

If you ask yourself if your stretch marks might ever go away, unfortunately the answer is no. Stretch marks do not usually completely disappear, and there is no treatment that will completely remove them. But don’t give up just yet! They do usually fade with time, especially when properly treated. And the earlier you start, the better the result!

The best treatment for stretchmarks is prevention. Skin that is well hydrated and supple has more elasticity and can respond better to stresses which could cause stretch marks. But don’t lose hope if it’s too late for prevention: there are several medical, cosmetic, and natural treatment options that can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and the best treatment depends on the age of the stretch marks.[6]

The Mederma® portfolio contains one over-the-counter option for stretch mark treatment and one cosmetic oil for stretch mark appearance. Mederma® Stretch Marks Therapy contains a unique triple action formula combining onion extract (Cepalin®), hyaluronic acid and centella asiatica extract.[5] It penetrates beneath the surface of the skin to support collagen production and cell renewal. It has been proven to increase the moisture content of your skin, thereby improving its softness and texture as well as the appearance of stretch marks.[5,7] And a survey conducted in 2011 confirmed that 76% of women who used the cream for 12 weeks saw a reduction in their stretch marks.* By blending Cepalin® with complex oils, botanicals, and other ingredients, Mederma Quick Dry Oil is a multi-use product to improve appearance of various blemishes such as scars, stretch marks, uneven skin tone, or dry skin.

Other treatment options

Stretch marks for which topical treatment has been insufficient, may require more drastic measures such as laser, radio, and ultrasound therapy,[6] which are performed in the dermatologist’s office. These treatments are usually based on pulses that give the cells the impression of damage, to which the cells respond with an increase in collagen production, resulting in improved skin elasticity, structure, and color. The most drastic treatment is surgery, but this is unnecessary in most cases. As these treatments also stress or even damage your skin, a rehydrating cream, such as Mederma® Stretch Mark Therapy can be beneficial for the recovery process.

These treatments are more invasive and are not at-home treatments. They require an expert opinion, so before starting any of these treatments, please choose your dermatologist carefully.

No matter which treatment you chose, the most important ingredients for success are tenacity and patience as results take time to show.

References

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