How Are Stretch Marks Formed?
When the tissue under the skin is stretched, the normal production of collagen is disturbed and damaged, causing stretch marks (striae gavidarium) to surface. Stretch marks are also connected to the influx of glucocorticoids, which are hormones that elevate during puberty, excessive weight gain, obesity, and pregnancy.
According to Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, a board-certified OB/GYN and owns a private practice in Beverly Hills, California, about 90% of pregnant women develop stretch marks by their third trimester. High levels of glucocorticoids prevent elastin and collagen formation which makes a person more prone to stretch marks.
Stretch marks usually appear on the stomach, hips, thighs, and buttocks but can show up in other areas of the body as well.
Can Stretch Marks Be Prevented?
There are some studies indicating that stretch marks can be prevented by using certain substances like essential oils and vitamin E. A study in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that expectant women who used a cream with vitamin E had fewer marks than those who didn’t. Since stretch marks are due to rapid weight gain or loss, it can also be prevented by gaining or losing weight gradually.
DO CREAMS HELP REMOVE STRETCH MARKS?
A handful of stretch mark creams and serums can help make the marks almost unnoticeable. These products are the better alternative to cosmetic procedures that cost several thousand dollars. “diminishing stretch marks is a patient’s best bet”, said Barrington, Illinois dermatologist, Dr. Amy Derick.
It may not be realistic to remove every streak of stretch mark on your skin, but creams can help lighten the appearance. Tretinoin (Retin-A) can greatly help fade stretch marks early on when lines are still pinkish or purplish. Many studies have shown that topical tretinoin can also reduce the size of stretch marks. The best products should be able to give visible results in four to six weeks.
INGREDIENTS TO LOOK FOR IN STRETCH MARK CREAMS
You need to look for clinically proven ingredients that really work in reducing stretch marks. A good stretch mark cream should also contain ingredients that protect skin during mechanical stretching and those that reduce inflammation, which makes stretch marks worse. Some of the ingredients you should be looking for are:
- Vitamin E – Dr. Cindy Pan, a Sydney-based medical practitioner and media personality with more than a decade of experience working in general practice in women’s health, recognizes the benefits of Vitamin E, especially in keeping healthy skin. “By massaging the skin regularly with Vitamin E, you’re moisturizing and conditioning the skin, and over time this can help improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks, and uneven skin tone”.
- Vitamin A – improves the skin cell growth.
- Cocoa Butter – contains natural antioxidants and has healing and softening properties.
- Squalane – softens the skin and effectively reduces skin imperfections. It also helps with the growth of new skin cells.
- Hyaluronic acid – it is a potent moisturizer that makes skin firmer and elastic for rapid stretch mark reduction.
- Squalene Oil – a strong regenerative property when used on skin protects skin surface and aids in the healing of scars.
- DL-Panthenol – also called, pro-vitamin B5. It improves the structure of the upper and lower of skin and reduces the appearance of existing stretch marks.
- Regu®-Stretch – a paraben-free solution that improves skin firmness and elasticity. It also moisturizes and smoothens skin, and helps repair scars. Regu®-Stretch prevents the formation of new stretch marks and reduces the appearance of existing stretch marks.
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN STRETCH MARK CREAMS
- Repairs damaged tissue which causes the appearance of stretch marks
- Prevents stretch marks from developing by protecting skin during mechanical stretching
- Prevents tissue degradation by protecting the extracellular matrix structure of skin
- Stimulates the production of collagen to reduce the appearance of stretch marks fast