Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are the scars on the skin with a silvery-white hue and are medically known as "striae". Stretch marks can develop anywhere on the body where skin has been stretched intensely over a short period of time, although they are usually more common on parts of the body where fat is stored.

During pregnancy, for example, stretch marks are most likely to come up around the stomach area, as a result of expansion, although they may develop on the breasts, thighs, buttocks and upper arms as a consequence of natural weight gain during pregnancy.

Stretch marks are caused by tearing of the dermis, affecting the elasticity of the due to over stretching. Our skin comprises of 3 layers: the top layer (epidermis), the middle layer (the dermis) and the inner layer (the subcutaneous layer).

The dermis layer's function is to support the skin and keep it firm; it also contains the blood vessels, which are responsible for transporting nutrients to skin cells.

The dermis is formed of a network of elastic fibres that make it possible for the skin to stretch with our bodies. But when the body expands significantly over a short period of time (such as during pregnancy), the fibres become weaker and may break, resulting in the thinning of the skin.

The development of stretch marks may be accredited to the exposure of the blood vessels in the dermis layer through the thin top layer of skin.

According to the statistics, 75-90% of pregnant women develop stretch marks. The sustained hormonal levels as a result of pregnancy usually means stretch marks may appear during the sixth or seventh month.

Recent and earliest researches suggest that appearance of the stretch marks is due to a combination of genetics, production of the hormone corticosteroid, hydration and nutrition.

People with naturally darker skin, for example, are less prone to stretch marks, possibly due to the higher melanin content in their skin.

Those people, whose bodies produce higher levels of corticosteroid, a hormone which decreases levels of collagen in the skin, will be more predisposed to the stretch marks as they will have less naturally flexible skin.

One could avoid or diminish the chance of appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy by drinking plenty of water and eating nutritious, balanced diet, because hydrated and healthy skin is more elastic and therefore more resistant to stretch as the body expands.

Caffeine can increase the risk of stretch marks. If you are on caffeinated coffee or tea, make sure you balance the fluids. Drink just as much or more water as you drink coffee, tea, or fizzy drinks.

Stretch marks can also come from nutritional deficiency. Be sure to consume foods that promote skin health: foods rich in zinc, vitamins A and C, protein-rich foods.

Depression or extreme unhappiness can be one of the factors for causing the appearance of the stretch marks (unhappy, stressed and depressed people are more likely to get stretch marks).

Stretch marks pose no health risk in and of themselves and do not compromise the body's ability to function normally and repair itself.

They normally begin to fade away during 6 months after the birth however in some cases the development of deep stretch marks can get really upsetting therefore there are several treatment options that may help to solve the stretch mark stamps on our bodies.

But one has to remember to consult with the doctor first before undergoing any stretch mark removal procedures.

The top five removal treatments

Over the time stretch marks can diminish but sadly, they do not tend to disappear completely. There are very few stretch mark removal treatments that actually get rid of them entirely.

Stretch marks develop in the dermis (the middle layer of the skin called), which makes them quite stubborn to reach and remove. But do not despair, there are a number of treatments that can help you to improve their appearance.

Down below we introduce you to top five treatment options for stretch mark removal:

1. Abdominoplasty

Abdominoplasty is probably the only treatment that removes stretch marks completely.

But getting your skin smooth in this way is going to cost you a considerable amount of money, as it is also one of the most extreme and expensive forms of stretch mark surgery.

This procedure is a tummy tuck and is predominately done to outline the stomach wall by removing excess fat and skin.

If a person happens to have stretch marks on the abdomen, below the belly button, these will also be removed during the surgery.

2. Laser Surgery

Laser surgery has become one of the most popular forms of surgery for stretch marks amongst all the types of the patients, but it is also a comparatively expensive treatment.

Laser surgery will not entirely remove your stretch marks but it can significantly improve their appearance.

The technique employed is similar to that used to treat scars. A narrow beam of light is transmitted through the skin, and helps to stimulate the cells in the dermis to create new tissue.

At this stage most lasers only distinguish color pigment, so they are not effective in treating mature stretch marks (of silver-white colour). Nevertheless, new laser technology has being developed recently which is capable to treat white or pale scars.

One will require approximately from five to six sessions of laser surgery treatment to get the stretch marks being noticeably reduced.

3. Creams and Lotions

Do not lay big hopes on stretch mark creams and lotions if you want to get rid of your stretch marks for ever.

No cream or lotion is going to remove your stretch marks completely, but they can improve their appearance and which is most important: help them from spreading.

Most of the products will have best results on stretch marks when applied in the early stages, so the earlier you treat your stretch marks the better.

Prescription creams or those that contain tretinoin or retin A claim to penetrate the dermis to stimulate the new cell growth, whilst creams with Vitamin E and Cocoa butter are excellent options for helping to maintain the skin soft and flexible.

4. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a skin resurfacing technique which uses miniscule crystals to remove the surface layers of skin.

As a matter of fact though, microdermabrasion is not the most effective stretch mark removal technique, as it only works on the epidermis level and doesn’t reach the dermis level where stretch marks are formed. Nevertheless, it can be beneficial if employed together with other treatments.

5. Endermologie

Endermologie involves a special machine, that massages the affected by stretch marks area with the rollers and tender suctioning action (a French invention to soften the scars).

Being treated with this machine can increase the circulation by up to 200% and help to remove toxins and stretch connective fibres. A number of sessions are advisable for finest results.