Stretch Marks: What Are, Causes, Prevention, and Self-Care

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What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are benign skin changes. They arise after damage to the collagen and elastin fibers of the dermis. They are a type of scar that appears due to intense skin stretching, for example, during rapid weight gain.

First, immature stretch marks appear red or slightly purple. The inflammatory phase lasts from 12 to 24 months. Biochemical changes then occur in the area of the spindle-shaped strands of the dermis. Local inflammation persists, and you may observe swelling and dilatation of blood vessels. These symptoms are accompanied by distortion and damage to connective tissue fibers.

After activation, phagocytic cells and mast cells produce an enzyme that breaks down elastic fibers, i.e., elastase. The skin thins and loses elasticity, and the structure of the spindle strands degrades. Everything may be accompanied by slight itching. During this phase, it is best to see a specialist to start reducing the changes.

The second stage is the atrophic phase. During it, we observe the subsidence of inflammation, and the skin lesions become pearly white. The skin around stretch marks becomes thin, and the linear strands become flattened or slightly wrinkled. When we touch a given place, we can feel the unevenness of the skin.

These skin lesions usually appear on the abdomen, buttocks, back, or breasts. Neither sweat glands nor hair follicles on the skin surface are covered with stretch marks.

Stretch Marks: What Are, Causes, Prevention, and Self-Care

Causes

The causes of stretch marksTrusted Source are many and varied. Typically, the grandest impact on the formation of these skin lesions is the stretching of collagen fibers. Genetic predispositions, physiological conditions, and the presence of diseases are also important.

Although all the causes of stretch marks are unknown, specialists have identified several factors influencing the development of changes. Fluctuations in body and muscle mass and hormonal changes are often responsible for the characteristic scar-like symptoms. People entering puberty, pregnant women, and menopausal women are particularly at risk.

To sum up, the causes of stretch marksTrusted Source include:

The condition of our skin and the entire body also influences the development of stretch marks. It will become more susceptible to damage if we do not keep it properly moisturized. The last but equally important cause of stretch marks on the bodies of women and men is an incorrect diet. People whose diet is low in ingredients such as:

Stretch Marks and Pregnancy

Maintaining an optimal body weight is important to prevent stretch marks. The future mother should control the growth of fat tissue – she can do it through proper nutrition and daily physical activity adapted to the body’s capabilities and health condition. You cannot forget about appropriate hydration of the body.

When stretch marks appear during pregnancyTrusted Source, effective treatment can be undertaken immediately. The changes usually become visible in the second trimester or after the sixth month, when the figure undergoes a significant change, and the skin begins to stretch. It is worth noting that changes after pregnancy and childbirth may be challenging to remove, so it is better not to delay.

Many cosmetics for pregnant women are dedicated to this issue in stores. Appropriate hydration and lubrication will eliminate skin dryness, and regenerative ingredients will strengthen its protective barrier. However, the significant issue here is the systematicity of action. Therefore, safe and effective cosmetics should be used daily during morning and evening care.

Remember that it is not always possible to avoid stretch marks. For this reason, it is best to prevent their appearance before pregnancy through appropriate and regular care to improve the skin’s condition.

Stretch Marks: What Are, Causes, Prevention, and Self-Care

Prevention

The saying “Prevention is better than cure” also applies to stretch marks. However, sometimes stretch marks are unavoidableTrusted Source – this is especially the case when body weight or muscle mass fluctuates. Once characteristic skin lesions appear, getting rid of them completely is a challenge.

Removing stretch marksTrusted Source is limited to reducing the visibility and surface area of the lesions. The moment when we start care treatment is particularly significant. It is worth doing it immediately when new stretch marks appear on the skin – the sooner we start acting, the better the results we can achieve.

Prevention is best supported by implementing healthy habits and performing regular tests. It is important to monitor your hormone levels and get your thyroid checked.

Our body is made of cells that constantly grow and renew themselves; for this, they need nutrients from our food. In this way, our appearance, well-being, ability to perform many activities, and health depend on our daily diet. It is significant to realize that it is not worth waiting for a healthy lifestyle until old age, eating improperly, not getting enough sleep, and not taking care of rest.

Right now, no matter what stage of life you are in, you can implement changes that will improve your current and future quality of life. There is no doubt that the relationship between eating habitsTrusted Source and the occurrence of stretch marks or dangerous lifestyle diseases (such as obesity, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and some cancers) is strongly related to what you eat.

Stretch marks appear due to gaining or losing weight over a short period when the skin stretches beyond standard. It is true that existing stretch marks, e.g., after pregnancy and childbirth, are difficult to eliminate, but regular water exercises help reduce them.

A good exercise for stretch marks is alternating jumping jacks. Raise your legs quite high alternately, first and then the other – preferably to chest height. Quick jumping makes the skin on the thighs taut and taut, and strengthening the leg muscles helps reduce stretch marks. If they bother you

Jogging or walking on a stepper will help reduce stretch marks on the buttocks and thighs. If you have special gymnastic equipment at home, a combination of a stepper and a massager placed on the buttocks and thighs, this is the key to reducing stretch marks. Gentle body massaging with a massage belt and walking on a treadmill are excellent ways to fight stretch marks. Stretch marks don’t have to be a problem for you – you need to change your lifestyle to a more active one.

How to Deal with Minor Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks do not pose a threat to health, let alone life. However, for many people, they are a significant aesthetic problem and affect, among other things, lower self-esteem or deterioration of self-confidence. For this reason, if we observe even minor skin changes, it is worth taking care of them as soon as possible.

For small stretch marks, it is worth using natural oilsTrusted Source and plant extracts that stimulate the skin’s regenerative and repair processes. By systematically applying them and massaging the skin, the visibility of changes can be reduced. Chemical peelsTrusted Source can also be practical in reducing the appearance of stretch marks. These products stimulate the skin to regenerate. Moreover, they positively influence the synthesis of collagen and elastin fibers, contributing to changes. You cannot forget about moisturizing the skin, which will improve its appearance and make the changes less visible.

It is not worth expecting that stretch marks, even the small and barely visible ones, will disappear independently. Although they fade and become less noticeable, some people feel uncomfortable. For this reason, it is worth preventing stretch marks, and if you notice even subtle skin changes, it is worth reducing their visibility.

Stretch Marks Care

If we care for our skin from the inside, it is worth supporting it from the outside, using cosmeticsTrusted Source that improve its condition. Moisturized, elastic, and regenerated skin will be much more difficult to damage and crack when stretched. Please pay particular attention to places prone to their formation, such as thighs, breasts, buttocks, and belly. This may also affect the back and shoulders in people who do strength training.

Stretch Marks: What Are, Causes, Prevention, and Self-Care

Before purchasing a given cosmetic, read the composition carefully. You should look for oils and butter moisturizing the skin and creating a protective barrier against water escaping. For this purpose, it is worth purchasing products that also contain active plant ingredients that have a firming and antiseptic effect:

Cosmetics containing these ingredients are most effective when used regularly, preferably in the morning and evening. It is worth combining their use with a relaxing, relaxing massage that stimulates blood and lymph flow.

Beauty Treatments

Aesthetic medicineTrusted Source offices nowadays offer a wide range of treatments to help get rid of stretch marks. One of them is laser therapyTrusted Source. The treatment aims to stimulate skin repair processes because the laser stimulates collagen production. A popular choice is the CO2 fractional laser. The advantage of this treatment is its local effect, i.e., limited to the specific area of the body where skin lesions have appeared. The fractional CO2 laser allows you to reduce the visibility of stretch marks, regardless of the surface on which the changes are. To obtain the best possible results, specialists recommend 3-5 treatments.

Needle mesotherapyTrusted Source lasts about 30-60 minutes and involves administering various medicinal, regenerative, and nutritional substances via subcutaneous microinjections. The doctor decides which active ingredients will be used and what method exactly. Therefore, professionals proceed with a medical consultation with a detailed interview. The specialist performs needle mesotherapy by using disposable syringes with a thin, precise needle, a particular injection gun with the function of automatically adjusting the depth of injection and dosing of substances, or multi-injectors for simultaneous introduction of substances in several places. What substances are introduced into the skin during mesotherapy? Most often, platelet-rich plasma or vitamin cocktails, hyaluronic acid, amino acid complex, microelements, and biomimetic peptides are injected.

Massage

When using appropriate cosmetics, it is worth massaging the bodyTrusted Source parts affected by or exposed to stretch marks for at least 10 minutes. The movements should be gentle but decisive, but they mustn’t cause pain. We should be careful when massaging stretch marks on the breasts or stretch marks on the thighs, where the skin is sensitive.

Dry brushing is also worth trying. The treatment helps stimulate and improve blood circulation in the skin, similar to a massage. Use a natural fiber brush and gently massage selected areas at risk of stretch marks. Dry brushing movements will increase lymphatic drainage and, at the same time, exfoliate dead skin. The procedure can be an introduction to subsequent stages of care using a moisturizing cream or oil. However, there are contraindications to dry brushing. The procedure is excluded if any inflammation or other disturbing skin changes are visible on the skin. Moreover, specialists also advise against brushing the belly during pregnancy due to the possibility of causing contractions.

The massage should be performed until the skin becomes slightly red. Be careful not to bruise. Usually, circular movements are recommended, but you can also make continuous and long ones. It is worth directing the movements towards the heart, which will help improve proper blood and lymph flow.

The effect of cosmetics and massage can be enhanced using various accessories. A large brush or glove will come in handy to firm the skin dry or in the shower. A Chinese cupping combined with oil will also work great. It is worth choosing ones of different sizes to adjust the pressure to the condition and elasticity of the skin. However, you must be especially careful when using Chinese cupping – and it is worth having this treatment performed by a professional. After applying the balm, you can also use massage rollers with protrusions.

What About Stretch Marks in Men?

Although stretch marks are associated mainly with women, the problem of characteristic skin changes is independent of gender. Stretch marks, a source of complexes, also often appear in men. As with women, these changes in men are usually caused by one of three factors – an increase in fat or muscle mass or changes in body structure due to puberty.

They can usually be observed in the thighs, abdomen, biceps, and back. Lesions on the thighs or biceps most often occur in the case of an increase in muscle mass, while those on the abdomen are characteristic of an increase in fat tissue. Changes appearing on the back, especially in the lumbar section, most often occur during puberty.

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January 26, 2024
11 minutes read
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