Many people assume unsightly stretch marks are signs of substantial weight gain, making them downright embarrassing. Prominent stretch marks on the thighs or stomach make some women and men self-conscious and unhappy with their bodies. Are these unpleasant marks permanent, or can you diminish their appearance? First, let’s take a look at the actual cause of stretch marks in an effort to better understand them.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
Often times, stretch marks are not entirely caused by rapid weight gain. Hormonal changes in the body coupled with a stretching of the skin can lead to more prominent stretch marks, which is why pregnant women and pubescent boys and girls often develop them. A family history of stretch marks can also mean you are more likely to develop them, even if you don’t gain that much weight in a short period of time. Some medications, such as oral or topical steroids, can also increase your risk for developing stretch marks.
Are Stretch Marks Permanent?
Though stretch marks can eventually fade over many years, they may never disappear completely. You might want to consider treatment depending on how severe your stretch marks are and how uncomfortable they make you feel. There are a few treatments available that may diminish the appearance of your stretch marks. The best time to treat stretch marks is as soon as you notice them developing, when they are more pink or purple in color.
How to Diminish the Appearance of Your Stretch Marks
You should moisturize your skin every day to keep it as healthy as possible. Moisturizing keeps it strong and elastic. When you moisturize, make sure to massage your skin to improve circulation and promote new tissue growth. This will keep your skin in top form.
When you first detect stretch marks, Tretinoin (Retin-A) cream can reduce their appearance. The cream boosts cell turnover and collagen production. Though this treatment has been shown to work, it does take time for improvements to be seen, so be patient. Retin-A increases sensitivity to sun exposure, so it is important to wear sunscreen and avoid prolonged sun exposure during use. If you’re pregnant, you should not use Retin-A. Speak to your health care provider to find out what treatment is best for you.
Increase Your Intake of Vitamin C and E
The last preventative step you can take when you notice stretch marks forming is to increase your intake of vitamin C and E, which help strengthen your skin. A balanced, healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, and appropriate vitamin supplementation is important in caring for your skin. Avoiding rapid weight gain and weight loss may also prevent formation of stretch marks.
Consider Laser Treatment Options
If you already have stretch marks, there are a variety of laser treatment options
that can help to improve their appearance. Lasers use thermal energy to safely diminish the appearance of stretch marks. Laser and light therapy treatments can address the discoloration associated with stretch marks and trigger remodeling of collagen in the skin to repair the damaged areas.
For new stretch marks, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) can be used to reduce the color of the marks. If your stretch marks are older and look silver or white, a fractional resurfacing laser will probably be your best option. Lasers, such as the fractional CO2 laser, stimulate collagen growth, improving the rough and uneven texture often associated with stretch marks. Typically multiple treatments are needed to diminish stretch marks, and it is important to maintain realistic results.
You don’t have to live with unsightly stretch marks. If you are developing stretch marks or have had them for a long time, contact us to find out how to best treat them. We would love to help you feel better about your body by providing you with medical-grade skin care products or giving you a simple and quick laser treatment. Contact us today to learn more!
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