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Can you briefly explain what stretch marks are and why/how they happen?
Stretch marks are technically a form of scar tissue. When the skin expands faster than it can keep up with, there is initially an inflammatory response followed by a healing phase. The initial stage of a stretch mark are noted to have redness and inflammation. After the skin begins to heal, these marks settle into lighter or hypopigmented linear scars.
While stretch marks are often discussed under the lens of pregnancy, it is not a pregnant-only condition. Can you explain how men and women (and non-pregnant women) can get stretch marks?
Pregnancy is a time that stretch marks on on women’s minds however it is very common to see these develop under other scenarios. Puberty can lead to a characteristic pattern of stretch marks in both boys and girls. There are often lower back stretch marks as a result of growth spurts in particular. Exercise and gaining muscle mass at a rapid rate can often lead to stretch marks in those susceptible to them located over the biceps, deltoids and thighs. And, taking long term steroids can thin the skin and trigger the development of stretch marks as well.
There are several common scenarios to see stretch marks develop.
- Pregnancy is a time that stretch marks on on women’s minds however it is very common to see these develop under other scenarios.
- Puberty can lead to a characteristic pattern of stretch marks in both boys and girls. There are often lower back stretch marks as a result of growth spurts in particular.
- Exercise and gaining muscle mass at a rapid rate can often lead to stretch marks in those susceptible to them located over the biceps, deltoids and thighs.
- And, taking long term steroids can thin the skin and trigger the development of stretch marks as well.
It's true that no single product can cure/prevent stretch marks, but can using certain products help lessen their appearance or even perhaps reduce your chance of getting them?
Most products work by lessening the appearance of stretch marks. The tissue paper like wrinkling or crepey skin that overlys stretch marks makes them appear more pronounced. Many products work to hydrate the overlying skin to improve its turgor reducing their overall appearance. There are technically no products that can cure stretch marks simply because they are a form of scar tissue.
What are a few of your top recommendations for products to help with stretch marks?
Here are some common products people use for stretch marks to improve their look:
This is a common go-to product given its affordability and ease of use. By keeping the skin well moisturized as it expands the hope is to reduce the inflammatory response to rapid stretching and hopefully reducing the scar tissue that follows. Probably best used before they develop. Once the stretch marks have already developed they are on their way to form scar tissue.
This is a multiuse/multipurpose skin oil that applies easily and rubs in quickly. It can soothe the itching and skin sensitivities that occur when stretch marks are forming.
This product both moisturizes and feels like an added barrier on the skin. It makes the feel of clothes rubbing against the skin far less sensitive.
What are some more invasive ways you can get your stretch marks removed?
Radiofrequency skin tightening, micro needling, laser resurfacing and/or surgical methods can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. However, each has variable results based on the type of stretch mark and method of treatment.
- Any other tips for dealing with stretch marks?
The tendency towards stretch marks is thought to be an inherited trait. The best option to help is to try to prevent the development of stretch marks. Keeping the skin well hydrated and moisturized during times when the skin is expanding will help your skin keep up with the stretch and hopefully reduce the chance of getting stretch marks in the first place.