Stretch marks can occur at any time during a person’s life whether it be through gaining or losing weight, during a growth spurt or simply due to hormonal changes. Through whatever means, one thing is for certain… they are absolutely normal.
A stretch mark is a tear caused when collagen and elastin fibres breakdown, or the body is growing/losing weight at a rate than the body can cope with. Although they may cause visual distress they are not harmful, yet on the rare occasion they can be an indicator of something more serious.
Typically women will notice an increase in stretch marks during their pregnancy and although there is no 100% failproof way to ensure you don’t get them and every body is different, there are various methods which can be used in order to minimise scarring.
The Stretch Mark Lifecycle
Typically stretch marks (officially known as striae rubra) begin as red or purple. This is the first phase of the lifecycle and also the most responsive time to treat them. Once they fade and change to a faint silvery white colour (striae alba) they become much harder to treat and so more extensive treatment is usually required.
Although we can speak on the topic of stretch mark prevention, bear in mind that genetics also plays a big role in determining the likelihood of gaining them. If you’re pregnant, always check with your doctor before using any products that claim to treat or prevent stretch marks.
What to do about them
Retinols cannot be used during pregnancy as they pose risks of birth defects, however post-birth creams containing retinols vitamin A derivatives) will be the best option as retinols have been touted as the go-to stretch mark creams due to their ability to stimulate collagen production within the skin. However, typically these creams are marketed as face creams however the retinol is what counts and so you can use it on the stretch marks too. Prices vary greatly, from £5 to £70 per bottle depending on the brand and it may take up to six weeks of use before seeing any results.
If the retinol-based creams and lotions seem too harsh on the skin than the alternatives would be creams with Hyaluronic acid or vitamin C.
It can be said for many things in life that the more you spend on something, the better it is, and laser treatments for stretch marks is the same. This is the most expensive way to reduce your stretch marks, which would also require multiple visits to the dermatologist to have them removed, however this is the most guaranteed way to get the job done as it were!
Another option at a fraction of the cost is micro-needling. In comparison to laser therapy, micro-needling typically has a faster skin recovery period and well as being less likely to cause hyperpigmentation. This is a derma-roller procedure which uses small needles to prick the skin. In doing so this treatment generates new collagen and skin tissue for smoother, firmer skin. This type of procedure should be performed by a dermatologist or aesthetician.