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Skin Care Products > Articles > Eliminating Stretch Marks. Yes! It Is Possible...

Eliminating Stretch Marks. Yes! It Is Possible...

Posted On: - 2009-08-06 05:55:12

If you are a new Mom or have gained some weight lately, chances are you might be worried about some unsightly marks now plaguing your skin. These are the dreaded stretch marks, one of the most serious skin concerns among women. The sad truth is that once formed, stretch marks cannot usually be cured completely. However, that doesn't mean you have to live with them all your life. With good skin care and the right products you can lighten their appearance considerably. In fact, with diligent skin care, some women have even got rid of their appearance almost altogether.

Stretch Marks – What & When?
Stretch marks are the marks running across the skin surface caused by the sudden stretching of the skin tissues like during pregnancy or sudden weight gain. Stretch marks are also a common occurrence during growth spurts such as puberty and affect areas like abdomen, upper arms, chest, lower back, buttocks and thighs. These marks are generally reddish to brownish in color initially and gradually fade to pale white. And because of their raised texture, they are visible prominently on the skin.

Causes of Stretch Marks

Stretch marks can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as:

Breakdown of Collagen
Stretch marks are formed in the dermis layer of the skin between the epidermis and the subcutaneous tissues. The dermis layer contains oil glands, sweat glands, hair follicles and nerve endings and is also home to collagen and elastin fibers. Collagen and elastin are skin proteins that are responsible for the texture and elasticity of the skin. They support the skin structure and enable it to retain its shape after all the stretching and straining.

However, when the skin is stretched suddenly in order to accommodate the sudden growth or weight gain, the collagen and elastin become dry and break down. This results in the formation of raised, reddish-brown stretch marks on the skin surface.

Abnormal Formation of Collagen
Stretch marks can also be caused as a side effect of certain medications and health conditions. People who take cortisone medications or suffer from diseases like diabetes or Cushing's syndrome are likely to develop stretch marks on their skin.

Treatment of Stretch Marks
There are a variety of options that can help you reduce the appearance of stretch marks to claim back your healthy flawless skin.

Professional Procedures

Laser Treatments
A specialized option called PLD, Pulsed Dye Laser treatments accelerate the growth of collagen and elastin fibers within the skin cells and thus help lighten the stretch marks. There are also other options like Excimer Laser that promote melanin production so that it darkens the skin around the marks so that they blend in well. However, laser treatments are quite expensive and you would need to sit through multiple sessions to see results and to retain them.

Chemical Peels
These peels contain specialized ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids that help to lighten the appearance of stretch marks by stripping off the top layers of damaged and dead skin and promoting cell regeneration within the skin surface.

This process helps to exfoliate the top outermost layer of the skin. Synthetic crystals are released on to the skin surface to abrade it after which a vacuum absorbs back the crystals and the dead skin cells. Though microdermabrasion promotes the growth of new skin cells, it is not very effective in lightening the appearance of stretch marks. However, it does help the ingredients of topical treatments to penetrate better through the skin surface.

Topical Treatments

Skin Lightening Products

Some skin care products contain specialized ingredients that help to enhance the texture and diminish the appearance of stretch marks. Alpha hydroxy acids are one such ingredient that scrapes off dead skin cells from the surface along with excess pigments and thus promotes an even toned complexion.

Tretinoin Cream
This is a retinoid formula that significantly improves the appearance of stretch marks. It is advisable to start using lower concentrations of tretinoin cream and gradually increase the concentration as your skin gets used to the product. Speak to your dermatologist regarding what concentration might be best for you. Obagi Tretinoin Cream is available in concentrations of .025 %, 0.5% and 1.0%.

CAUTION: Pregnant women should avoid the use of both these ingredients as well as any other retinoid based products. Dr. Marilynn Syrett is a graduate from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine Of The Pacific. She has a keen interest in studying the use and effectiveness of anti-aging skin products and acne treatments.