Stretch marks treatment options are necessary because as people age they will develop stretch marks on their skin to some degree. However, what causes stretch marks? Can they be prevented? Who is susceptible to them? Are stretch mark creams an effective stretch mark removal treatment?
Although stretch marks will fade over time, for many the white appearance of the marks is still unacceptable and remedies are sought after.
The best stretch marks treatment is prevention where this is possible.
For pregnant women, keeping the skin hydrated by drinking sufficient quantities of water will decrease the chances of the woman developing stretch marks. In addition, as the abdomen area expands it tends to become itchy. Scratching of the skin should be avoided. A moisturizing lotion or suitable powder should be used to alleviate the itchiness. An exercise program that is suitable for pregnant women should be followed in order to help tone the skin and increase its elasticity, so that it can cope with the rapid weight gain. A supportive maternity bra should be worn throughout the pregnancy.
For all individuals, gaining weight should be avoided by eating right and exercising regularly. Foods high in vitamins A, C, D, and E and that are high in zinc, which is good for healthy skin care, should be consumed. Various nuts and fish provide good sources of zinc. Foods with silica, which helps form collagen are also recommended. Sources of silica are beets, brown rice, bell peppers, soybeans, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains. A good diet for the skin should also contain foods with the essential fatty acids such as omega-3. Many of the essential fatty acids can be found in fish oils or vegetable oils.
Healthy and proper skin care should be practiced by keeping the skin well moisturized. This will increase the elasticity of the skin and allow it to stretch more easily without being damaged.
Creams containing centella asiatica extract, vitamin E, cocoa butter, lavender or other aromatherapy oils, and collagen-elastin hydrolysates may help prevent the formation of this skin problem.
Moisturizers and Creams
If stretch marks are new, moisturizers and creams may be used as a stretch marks treatment.
Vitamin E oil can assist to generally improve the condition of the skin, assist in skin healing, and can reduce the appearance of the marks.
Cocoa butter cream is often used to soften scars and therefore, may have some effect on reducing the appearance of stretch marks. Some specially formulated creams for stretch marks, in addition to containing cocoa butter, also contain wheat germ oil and lanolin, which supposedly act to rebuild the skin structure.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha hydroxy acids are acids that are derived from plants/fruits. Creams containing AHAs moisturize the skin to make it softer and more elastic and also exfoliate the skin. This chemical exfoliation of the top layer of the skin, stimulates the growth of new skin cells. The result is an improvement in skin texture and colour and it makes the skin smoother and softer. In addition, because AHAs bind water molecules, the skin’s flexibility is increased. All these factors lead to a decrease in the appearance of stretch marks. Regular use of the AHA is necessary in order to maintain the benefits.
Tretinoin or Retin-A
Tretinoin (trade name is Retin-A) is a derivative of vitamin A and can be used as a stretch marks treatment. It is most effective when the stretch mark is new and its use may reduce the length and width of the stretch marks. This compound loosens the keratin in the outer skin layers and helps to exfoliate dead skin cells. The outer skin becomes thinner with use allowing penetration of the compound into the dermis layer, which is where the stretch marks form. Once in the dermis layer, collagen production is stimulated. This plumps up the skin and improves skin texture and therefore stretch marks become less noticeable.
Strong doses of Tretinoin or Retin-A can lead to side effects such as stinging, swelling, redness, and increased sun sensitivity of the skin. Pregnant or nursing mothers should not use Tretinoin or Retin-A.
Surgery is a possible stretch marks treatment. Unlike many other stretch mark treatments, surgery will permanently remove stretch marks.
A tummy tuck is the usual surgical method employed. As a result of pregnancy, many women have stomach muscles that have been over stretched and many have a lot of loose skin in the abdominal area. Along with this loose skin are stretch marks that are usually present below the belly button. A tummy tuck removes the loose skin and underlying fat and tightens the stomach muscles. Since the excess skin is removed, all the stretch marks residing on that skin are also removed. The result is a flat, tight, smooth abdominal area with no stretch marks. However, due to the surgical procedure, scars around the belly button and across the lower abdomen will be present.
A tummy tuck is a full blown surgical procedure with a recovery time of several weeks. The skin in the abdominal area may loose its sensitivity. In addition, minor touch-ups may be required after the initial surgery. As with all surgical procedures there are risks of infections and other complications.
Other less severe surgical stretch mark treatments such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels can be used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. These methods strip away the surface of the skin and the new skin that grows is softer, smoother, and more flexible.
Laser surgery is a possible stretch marks treatment. However, there is disagreement as to the effectiveness of such a treatment.
Generally, it is accepted that the laser will fade the marks, making them less noticeable. This type of stretch mark treatment is really only intended for coloured stretch marks or those in the early stages. The coloured stretch marks absorb the laser light leading to a sealing of the blood vessels responsible for the colour.
Many believe that stretch marks can be removed with laser treatment. However, lasers do not generally repair torn tissues such as those responsible for stretch marks. Many plastic surgeons agree that lasers are ineffective in making stretch marks completely disappear.
On the other hand, some believe that lasers will remove stretch marks because the laser stimulates the production of collagen underneath the marks. As the collagen content increases, the damaged and missing collagen is replaced. Therefore, the skin plumps up from underneath and this fills in the stretch mark. Lasers may also stimulate the production of an individual’s pigment producing cells, which will reduce the visibility of older stretch marks that are lighter in colour than the rest of the skin.
Laser treatments require little or no recovery time.
This stretch marks treatment involves the use of a motorized machine and was developed in France several years ago. The machine uses rollers and gentle suction to deeply massage the areas affected by stretch marks. The purpose of this process is to:
The procedure is non-surgical and non-invasive. The skin gently folds and unfolds under the action of the suction and rollers. This allows the therapy to occur deep in the skin matrix. Several thirty-minute sessions are required in order for any beneficial results to become visible. Endermologie is also primarily used to eliminate cellulite. As with the laser stretch mark treatment, there is some controversy as to whether endermologie does provide acceptable benefits.
With many of the stretch marks treatment options provided on this page, there is uncertainty in terms of effectiveness. Consultation with dermatologists or plastic surgeons is recommended to ensure that your expectations are met.
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