Ever tried covering up at the beach because of stretch marks on your thighs? Or felt too shy to wear your favorite swimsuit because it shows off your “tiger stripes”?
Well, you’re not alone!
While we’re all for promoting self-love and accepting our imperfectly perfect bodies, there are things we know we remain insecure about… just like stretch marks. They’re normal, but we can find them unsightly all the same.
So, it’s not a surprise we want to try to get rid of them.
But can you get rid of stretch marks? And if yes, how?
That’s what we’re here to discuss.
All About Stretch Marks
Before we begin, let’s first run through some basics regarding stretch marks.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks, simply put, are scars.
Specifically, they’re scars that form after an abrupt change in the skin.
The skin is generally very elastic. However, when the skin suddenly expands or shrinks, it finds it difficult to keep up. As a result, collagen and elastin, which support the skin, suddenly break or rupture.
The result? Blood vessels beneath the skin become more visible! They typically show as red or purplish marks on the skin.
This is why stretch marks have different colors for different people. Some of them may be red or pink, others more purple, reddish-brown, or dark brown. Most of the time, these depend on your skin color.
But take note: after some time, stretch marks begin to change in color. However, as your skin heals, the damage remains a scar. This gives way to the stretch marks we are familiar with—white or silver bands that cause a slight depression on the skin.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
Some people seem to be more prone to stretch marks than others. Generally, it seems like genetics and hormones determine if someone is more likely to get stretch marks.
Apart from that, though, general developments in the body also make stretch marks a possibility. These are moments of sudden growth, which end up stretching the skin.
You can generally expect to develop stretch marks during or after:
Pregnancy comes with a lot of changes in a woman’s body. You may suddenly find growth in certain areas such as the abdomen, thighs, and hips. The influx of hormones in the body at this period may weaken skin fibers. This combination is a recipe for stretch marks.
What’s more, a study found that stretch marks tend to happen more frequently to women who get pregnant at a younger age. People who gain weight during pregnancy get stretch marks more frequently, too.
Growth spurts that come with puberty
We’ve all experienced growth spurts during puberty. We know how drastically the body can change during this period! It’s no surprise that this sudden growth can cause a few stretch marks on the body.
Rapid weight loss or weight gain
You probably know already about stretch marks from weight gain. After all, it works the same way growth spurts do.
But are you surprised that even weight loss is included?
We usually associate stretch marks with growth, but it seems, even losing weight can be a culprit! That’s because it still counts as a sudden change that the skin needs to adapt to.
Weight training for rapid muscle growth
Weight trainers and bodybuilders, beware! The skin can also get stretched if due to significant changes in muscle mass over a short period. You may catch a few red stretch marks in the areas you grow your muscle because of this.
Using steroid medications or topical steroid creams
Corticosteroids are only meant for short-term use. Using them for a longer time may lead to stretch marks, as they’re known to weaken the skin’s fibers. The same goes with orally taking steroid medications.
Other known causes for stretch marks include breast implant surgeries, as well as several genetic conditions. Having Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or Cushing’s syndrome puts someone at risk of having stretch marks more frequently. Women are also more likely to develop stretch marks than men.
Can You Get Rid of Stretch Marks?
Now that we know what causes stretch marks, let’s move on to our main concern. Can stretchmarks be removed completely? Like gone, forever?
The short answer is no, it’s impossible to completely eradicate your stretch marks.
But not to worry, though! Stretch marks often fade on their own over time, although you’ll still notice them if you look closely enough.
The good news is, there are steps you can take to make your stretch marks less noticeable.
There are treatments and procedures you can try with your trusty dermatologist. Over-the-counter creams and ointments, and even home remedies can also be your friend!
Let’s check them out one by one.
Topical Treatments and Ointments
If you’re on a bit of a budget, there are over-the-counter creams or ointments you can try to make the stretch marks go away.
Also called Vitamin A, retinoids aid in keeping the skin smooth and more youthful. It’s found in many different skincare products because of this benefit.
For instance, all of Lavelier’s products have algae extract, a known rich source of retinol, which is another type of retinoid. You may want to check out their Seascape Body Butter if you’re looking for an all-around body cream that will keep your skin soft, and also help fade those pesky stretch marks!
Why use retinoids or retinol, you ask?
Well, an early study found that as little as 0.1 percent tretinoin, another kind of retinoid, can aid in removing stretch marks, especially when applied in its early stages. What’s more, retinoids are believed to help the skin rebuild collagen. This is because it can penetrate through the skin’s upper layer, helping the skin repair itself.
Stronger retinoids like tretinoin, are typically available through prescription. It’s advisable to use it in the initial stages of your stretch marks for best results!
But, a word of caution—retinoids can cause side effects like redness and peeling. This isn’t recommended for use if pregnant or nursing women! Consult with your doctor regarding products that work for you.
Think exfoliation is just for the face? Think again.
Known chemical exfoliators or peels, like glycolic acid, just might answer your stretch mark woes. These products, along with chemical peels, can help speed up skin cell turnover. You get to remove the skin’s outer layer, helping alleviate the redness and texture of your stretch mark.
The result? Your stretch marks get smoother and less noticeable.
Looking for something perhaps gentler than retinoids? You can try getting a hyaluronic acid prescription from your dermatologist.
There are also tons of beauty products available in the market containing hyaluronic acid. You may want to check out this Collagen Firming Complex Serum from Lavalier, which has both collagen and hyaluronic acid for extra firmness for the skin!
Hyaluronic acid is known to help stimulate collagen production, hence why it can improve the appearance of stretch marks. Some studies show that, if applied early, hyaluronic acid can make stress marks less noticeable.
There are tons of oils and creams available in the market, all designed for stretch marks. These creams usually have extremely moisturizing ingredients like cocoa butter and vitamin E.
The philosophy here is that they help the skin get softer and suppler. The thing is, studies are yet to prove that these creams work! There is, however, a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who’ve used them.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the key is to use these products religiously over a long period. If you keep your skin hydrated and moisturized, you reduce your risk of having stretch marks in the first place!
If you’re looking for a kick of moisture in your routine, check out Lavelier’s moisturizers. You’ll surely find something that’s great for your skin and your stretch marks!
Home Remedies for Stretch Marks
If you’re looking for more natural and organic options, you may try these home remedies instead. They’re perfectly safe, even for pregnant moms, and they’re cost-effective to boot!
Did you know that the key to making your stretch marks fade… may just be in your kitchen cupboard?
Sugar is a known physical exfoliator! Just like with chemical exfoliators, it’s meant to exfoliate the skin to reveal the skin underneath. This helps reduce redness and improve the texture of your stretch mark.
You may consider mixing ¼ cup of sugar with a softening agent like coconut oil, then add some lemon juice. Afterward, just rub this mixture for around 10 minutes on areas with stretch marks.
Be careful not to over-exfoliate, though! That will end up causing more problems to your skin.
Check out your plants at home, because you might just have what you need!
Though little evidence suggests that aloe vera can get rid of stretch marks, it still does wonders for the skin. Aside from being a natural healing agent, aloe vera has moisturizing properties that can make the skin smoother!
With constant and daily use, you may find your stretch marks fading bit by bit. If you keep your body moisturized, you won’t have to worry as much about stretch marks, too!
Here’s another cupboard staple that may just help you.
Coconut oil is known for its healing properties. And, since stretch marks are from skin damage, you can count on some coconut oil to help with your skin’s healing. That means they’ll get to fade a bit quicker!
Just a note, though—if you’re allergic to coconuts, this may not be your best bet. Otherwise, it’s perfectly safe, and it smells great, too!
Treatments and procedures
Willing to shell out a bit more money for proven, reliable ways to get rid of your stretch marks? Splurge a bit and treat yourself with these dermatologist-approved procedures for treating stretch marks:
Microdermabrasion works by exfoliating the upper layer of the skin. That sounds scary and painful, but it’s not! It’s a painless procedure.
The procedure works by spraying exfoliating crystals on the affected area. Meanwhile, some machines use special tipped wands! But regardless of which variant you use, you can expect them to remove the dead skin from your epidermis.
The result? Your skin gets stimulated to tighten its collagen and elastin fibers. That’s why you can expect your stretch marks to visibly lighten.
The thing with this procedure, though, is that it typically needs to be repeated after some time. Depending on how severe your stretch marks are, they may not completely fade, too!
Laser therapy is another trusty treatment you can consider. Unlike microdermabrasion, which targets the upper layer of the skin, laser therapy uses intense pulsed light to penetrate the skin. The goal here is to trigger skin regeneration around your stretch marks.
But wait—there’s more!
Laser therapy doesn’t stop at stimulating collagen and elastin regeneration. It promotes melanin production, too! That means that your stretch marks get to blend in with your skin tone, making them far less noticeable.
The only downside to laser therapy is that you’ll need many sessions to get significant results.
Platelet-rich plasma with ultrasound
A rising star in the world of stretch mark treatments, platelet-rich plasma therapy also aims to increase collagen production and revive the skin.
The difference? This procedure starts with taking platelet-rich plasma from the patient’s blood before the procedure.
Along with ultrasound, this treatment can help in reducing stretch marks. Participants in a study reported significant improvements in their appearance.
When all else fails, cosmetic surgery is another option to consider. Cosmetic or plastic surgeries are not specifically designed to remove stretch marks, though! Often, they’re used to remove excess fat and skin in the body.
Treating stretch marks, though, is a great bonus that comes with the procedure! You can remove part of your skin containing the stretch marks, while the remaining skin and tissue get tightened after the procedure.
However, do remember that cosmetic surgeries can leave scars of their own. If the skin where your stretch mark can be found isn’t loose, don’t expect it to get removed, either!
Lastly, this is a procedure that comes with risks. Discuss your options in-depth with your surgeon first.
There you have it! That’s everything you need to know about stretch marks, and how to get rid of them.
Though you can’t get rid of stretch marks, you have lots and lots of ways to improve your appearance. With patience and constant use, you just might make them unnoticeable to everyone!