Stretch marks are very common in people who gain weight and lose weight, but also when the body experiences a physical change such as during adolescence or pregnancy . In fact, they affect 80% of women and around 30% of men.
Not only that, stretch marks during pregnancy affect 90% of women!
Hydration is the key to preventing stretch marks and alleviating them.
Prevention is essential because, once formed, it is very difficult to eliminate them.
If you do not intervene early, they almost become like a skin scar and, like scars, there is no real remedy.
Stretch marks: what they are
They are skin lesions characterized by streaks (the scientific term is “striae”), the result of a tension that the skin is unable to bear and therefore causes the breakdown of the collagen fibers.
They are due to changes in the collagen and elastic fibers of the skin.
These changes occur mainly in some areas of the body: stretch marks on the breast, belly, thighs, buttocks and hips are the most common.
Symptoms: how to recognize a stretch mark
Stretch marks generally form in areas of tension on the skin.
For women, the areas most at risk are :
- armpits .
While for man the critical points are :
Red stretch marks and white stretch marks
There are two types of stretch marks: red and white.
The red ones are generally of recent appearance .
This is the initial stage of injury. An inflammatory process causes the fragmentation of the elastic fibers and then of the collagen, with an increase in vascularization.
Then, after a few months, the red ones evolve into the ivory-white , slightly depressed forms .
These are real scars , very difficult to treat.
Do stretch marks get worse in the sun?
Red stretch marks should be protected with a high index sunscreen so as not to promote inflammation.
The white ones do not get worse in the sun but you must know that in any case they do not tan because they are scars.
If you don’t want to make them more evident in the summer when you are tanned, the advice is to use a self-tanning spray on the affected areas.
Causes: why they are formed
The cause of these skin imperfections is not fully known, but the genetic predisposition certainly plays an important role.
Even weight changes (increase or loss, especially when they occur quickly) and hormonal changes (such as in puberty and during pregnancy or during endocrine diseases) can induce an alteration and a reduction of elastic fibers and collagen in the cute .
In addition, taking some medications , such as cortisone in high doses for long periods, could contribute, according to some opinions, to the formation of these skin lesions.
In any case, those with very elastic skin risk less the formation of stretch marks.
Stretch marks in pregnancy: why and when they appear
During pregnancy, stretch marks can appear suddenly on the breast, belly and even on the thighs.
This is because the body undergoes a considerable weight gain which weakens the fibers and makes the skin less elastic.
Not only that, there is also a hormone responsible for the appearance of stretch marks: cortisol.
Produced in large quantities during this period, it reduces the formation of collagen and making the skin less elastic.
The period in which the woman is most exposed is that between the sixth and the ninth month when the skin is more taut. The areas most at risk are the belly and the breast .
How to prevent stretch marks in pregnancy
- Check your weight even in pregnancy: the ideal is not to gain more than 9 kilos to not stress your body
- reduce the consumption of simple fats and sugars
- use natural and sulphate-free shower gel because they dry the skin
- once a week, use the exfoliant in the shower to remove impurities and promote the penetration of your moisturizer
- moisturizes the skin every day with vegetable oils that nourish it, performing circular massages on the breast, belly and thighs
- if your gynecologist gives you consent, continue practicing a sport such as water aerobics, walking or pilates.
Gym stretch marks: why do they appear?
Gym stretch marks are frequent among men and in most cases they appear on the arms, pectorals, shoulders.
Those who practice body building must respect certain rules to avoid their appearance: after so many efforts to have a perfect physique, in fact, the appearance of stretch marks can be experienced very badly.
The most important advice is not to subject the skin to excessive and too rapid tension: the increase in muscle mass must be gradual.
Stretch marks: prevention and treatments
A cure to totally eliminate stretch marks, unfortunately, does not exist.
The real battle against stretch marks begins … before they appear!
First of all, it is essential to maintain your healthy weight. Going up and down with weight promotes the appearance of stretch marks because you subject your skin to strong stress.
Physical activity is also a must, because it helps keep the body toned, including the dermis.
Then there are cosmetics and treatments that stimulate the regeneration of the tissues and therefore prove useful for contrasting stretch marks.
Anti-stretch mark diet
Prevention, as always, begins at the table.
In the anti-stretch mark diet , fruits and vegetables, foods rich in water that keep the body, and therefore also the skin, well hydrated cannot be missing.
The ideal diet model is the Mediterranean diet because it guarantees a perfect balance between all nutrients. Also remember to:
- take 2 liters of water per day
- take 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- have a varied diet
- prefer foods rich in fiber
- include in your diet foods that stimulate the synthesis of collagen (such as tomatoes, salmon, eggs, etc.) because, over the years, your skin produces less and becomes less elastic
- consume foods rich in vitamin C.
Sports to prevent and fight stretch marks
Playing sports not only helps you maintain a healthy weight but also improves skin tone.
The more toned the skin, the more elastic the fibers remain and the risk of stretch marks is reduced.
In the treatment of stretch marks, creams with:
- gotu kola
- boswelic acid
- Vitamin E.
These products aim to increase collagen production.
Then there are stronger anti-stretch mark creams , such as those:
- containing derivatives of vitamin A (tretinoin), which are not usable in pregnancy
- alpha hydroxy acid creams (such as glycolic acid).
To counteract stretch marks, there are also products based on hyaluronic acid, with elasticising properties.
Today, chemical peels (based on trichloroacetic acid) are less used, due to the risk of stains (post-inflammatory pigmentations).
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor for advice before choosing a cream.
Furthermore, thermal mud is useful for stimulating tissue regeneration, thanks to the mineral salts they contain.
You can find numerous anti-stretch mark creams and massage oils on the market to improve skin elasticity. They have properties:
The advice is to choose organic products.
Excellent are the following vegetable oils :
- sweet almonds
- wheat germ
- shea butter
Natural remedies: do-it-yourself creams against stretch marks
Aloe vera gel is a natural plant with a strong healing and moisturizing power.
It can be used alone or in combination with oils, morning and evening before going to bed, to massage the affected areas.
1 – Natural anti-stretch mark remedy
Apply a mixture made with 2 tablespoons of sweet almond oil, 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil, half a squeezed lemon and 2 leaves of aloe (the gel content) to the affected area.
Leave on for 20 minutes. Your skin will immediately become more toned.
2 – Do-it-yourself cream against stretch marks
Avocado, honey and lemon: here is the perfect mix to keep stretch marks away!
Avocado regenerates the skin, honey nourishes it and makes it more elastic while lemon lightens the scars.
- 1 avocado
- 2 spoons of lemon juice
- 2 spoons of honey
With a fork mash the avocado and pour it into a bowl. Add the lemon juice and honey and mix well until a homogeneous mixture.
Apply the product on all the stretch marks and massage to make it penetrate well.
You can perform this treatment as a preventive action and you will have a toned and elastic skin. If unfortunately the stretch marks have already appeared, start treatment immediately, do not wait for them to turn white because it is easier to mitigate the purple stretch marks than the long-standing ones that have turned white.
For an effective result you must perform this treatment at least 2 to 3 times a week for 1 month.
Of course, in case of allergies, intolerances or skin lesions, ask your doctor or dermatologist for advice before applying the cream.
Aesthetic medicine treatments can do a lot, but they cannot make stretch marks completely disappear (especially when they become white).
However, it may be worthwhile to undergo these treatments, because the lesions diminish so much and, in some cases, they are almost no longer seen.
Chemical peeling with trichloracetic acid (TCA) is especially indicated for red stretch marks on small areas . Trichloracetic acid can be used alone or in combination with other substances. Concentrations ranging from 10 to 40% can be used for more or less deep peels.
Chemical peeling is not able to eliminate stretch marks, but it can improve its appearance, because it makes the skin smoother and more homogeneous .
A session to be repeated every 20 days is recommended, depending on the problem.
The average cost is between 150 and 200 Euros about per session .
Treatment with the non-ablative fractional laser is useful for stimulating the growth of collagen and firming the underlying skin . The source emits micro beams of light by creating microtraumas in the shape of small holes through photothermolysis (chemical reaction that causes the destruction of tissue cells through light): around those points the skin is stimulated to regenerate.
This technique allows to significantly reduce both red and white stretch marks .
The laser treatment has the advantage of also allowing (at a later stage) to make stretch marks tan with exposure to the sun, which makes them even less visible.
At least 4-6 sessions, one month apart, are recommended.
The average cost per session is between 150 and 200 euros .
Radio frequency is also a particularly effective cosmetic treatment.
It works by releasing energy through electromagnetic radiation that operates on the dermis.
The energy given to the collagen of the dermis stimulates its regeneration and compaction.
The average cost per session is between 100 and 300 euros .
This treatment uses a machine that emits radio frequency and electricity to deeply stimulate the epidermid and regenerating the skin of the area to be treated.
It is indicated for white stretch marks and allows to obtain a progressive improvement in the trophism of the tissues and a “camouflage” of the imperfection .
The number of sessions depends on the depth of the stretch marks but generally a cycle of 10-20 sessions is recommended.
The average cost per session is between 80 and 120 euros .