Stretch Marks

Want to get rid of stretch marks? Read this!

Dr Reem Al Kaddah

Dr. Reem Al Kaddah is a dermatologist with a specialisation in venereology. She has completed her Masters from Damascus University in Syria.

Human skin is the largest organ of the body with exceptional quality to contract and stretch itself. Though it is elastic and strong, overstretching it or stretching it quickly can damage the supporting tissues, leading to stretch marks. Overstretching or tearing of skin due to weight gain, breast implant surgery, bodybuilding, steroid intake or growth during puberty can cause stretch marks. 

While stretch marks can affect both, men and women, pregnancy stretch marks in women are perhaps the most common kind. They can appear on any part of the body such as arms, back, breasts, hips, shoulders and stomach. 

Stretch marks appear as coloured streaks or lines but do not indicate any health issues. There are two kinds of stretch marks - red and white - depending on how old they are. In most cases, they begin as purple or red tears and eventually fade to white. Red coloured stretch marks, also called striae rubra, indicate newer tears and are red due to the presence of functioning blood vessels beneath them. 

The presence of blood vessels also increases their responsiveness to the treatment, making them easy to treat. On the other hand, white stretch marks, also called striae alba, are a result of narrowed or squeezed blood vessels over time. These narrowed blood vessels could not stimulate collagen production, making it difficult to clear them completely. 

Are there any products that can remove stretch marks?

Though in many cases, stretch marks may fade on their own with time; some may remain as they require stretch mark removal treatment. Some over-the-counter products available in the market can lighten or shrink the appearance of stretch marks. 

Products like stretch mark removal creams, oils, gels, salves, ointments, etc., are believed to be effective in reducing the appearance of stretch marks. These products may contain Tretinoin, Collagen boosters, Centella Asiatica, Bitter almond or moisturisers like shea butter, cocoa butter, vitamin E, glycolic acid or olive oil, etc., that can lighten the marks.

There are also home remedies for stretch marks that may prove beneficial for reducing their appearance, as they help rejuvenate skin tissue. These include applying aloe vera gel, a mixture of lemon and cucumber juice, almond oil, castor oil, coconut oil, and apricot paste mask. 

Stretch marks treatment

Apart from all the above-mentioned over-the-counter products and home remedies, there are other specific treatments or procedures that can significantly reduce the appearance of stretch marks. These include: 

Microdermabrasion:

This is a painless procedure that involves exfoliation of the skin using a handheld spray head that blows baking soda, tiny salt crystals, or aluminium particles on the skin. These crystals exfoliate the skin, removing the upper fine layer of skin to promote the growth of new skin. This new skin has better elasticity and causes the appearance of stretch marks to fade. 

Micro-needling:

This procedure targets the middle layer of skin where stretch marks are actually formed. By poking small needles into the skin, collagen and elastin production is triggered for skin regeneration. This improves the appearance of skin by reducing the visibility of stretch marks. 

Cosmetic surgery:

Cosmetic procedures like a tummy tuck, thigh lift, etc., remove the extra skin and tighten the remaining skin and tissues to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Although these procedures are not designed to remove only stretch marks, patients with sagging skin may get a dual benefit from these procedures, i.e. removal of sagging skin while eliminating stretch marks as well. 

Laser therapy:

Laser stretch mark removal is a recent treatment that helps increase collagen production and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. It can be done either by Pulsed dye laser therapy or Fractional CO2 laser therapy. While pulsed dye laser therapy is effective for new, red stretch marks, the fractional CO2 laser therapy smooths out old, white stretch marks. In fact, laser or light therapy is recommended by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) to improve the appearance of stretch marks significantly. 

Radiofrequency:

Is a commonly used and safe option works by triggering new collagen production in the treated area that help to reduce appearance of stretch marks especially when used for new (red) stretch marks and its advised to be combined with PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) at the same session as this PRP also works by stimulation of the production of new collagen 

All these procedures are quite safe when performed under an expert's guidance and supervision. At Medcare Hospitals & Medical Centres, fully trained and licensed skincare practitioners ensure you get quality treatment with effective and quick results.

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