Clients are typically self-conscious when it comes to their stretch marks. They want to know “why me” and how can they get rid of them ASAP! Here are my findings…
Stretch marks, also known as striae, appear when there is a rapid change in growth, such as during puberty, pregnancy or weight gain. When skin is physically stretched, microscopic tears in dermal collagen and elastin fibers can lead to scarring and discoloration. Collagen is the plump softness of your skin. Elastin is similar to a rubber (elastic) band. When stretched back and forth it retains its original shape. However, if stretched too quickly or for a significant amount of time the rubber can break down. It is the same with our body. If the skin fibers are broken, epidermal tearing can occur.
The discoloration of the skin (pigmentation) in the stretched area often becomes lighter due to the change in the organization of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells). Stretch marks on individuals with light complexions tend to look pinkish, while marks on darker skin tend to appear lighter.
Due to its mechanical nature, it is nearly impossible to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. However, a number of factors such as stress and dry skin may exacerbate their appearance. Dry skin is prone to developing microscopic tears. This is why it’s so important to keep your body well hydrated and moisturized. Stress hormones (cortisol and cortisone) reduce the skin’s elasticity by interfering with collagen and elastin production.
Regularly applying lotion to your body is a good way to keep the outer layers of your skin moisturized and supple. It also positively affects your overall sense of self-care in addition to helping your skin.
Decreasing the Appearance of Stretch Marks
There are lots of advertisements and debatable claims made about various removal creams for stretch marks. In general, treatments and medications aimed at reducing scar tissue and boosting collagen production will help to minimize the appearance of stretch marks. While there is no single treatment that can completely eliminate them, there are several options for making them less visible.
Over the course of our research, we found that retinoic acid-based medications such as Retin-A and Tazorac can be helpful. Also, Lac Hydrin (lactic acid), which works to increase hydration within the skin, is another prescription drug worth noting.
Skin Care Services
If you see an Esthetician regularly you may ask them if they carry a cosmeceutical-grade Vitamin A. Your Esthetician may also offer lactic acid peels which are safe to use anytime. Lactic acid is a wonderful and gentle way to increase collagen production and smooth the skin. Finally, hyaluronic acid (HA) gels have shown some promise in fading stretch marks by helping your skin retain moisture and feel more supple.
Reminder: Anything with Retinoic Acid (Vitamin A) should be avoided while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Microdermabrasion and PRP Therapy
This study shows that microdermabrasion, when used in combination with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, has been shown to be effective at increasing dermal collagen and elastin fibers. This treatment works by gently removing the outer skin layers and applying a concentrate of PRP to the area. PRP is derived from whole blood and is rich in growth factors that promote healing.
Microdermabrasion alone, however, does not penetrate the dermis where the actual damage is located.
Laser treatments, such as Vbeam and Fraxel, can be used to diminish the appearance of stretch marks by correcting differences in pigmentation. The Vbeam laser or Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) gently reduce reddened scars or red striae by working on both the epidermis and dermis.
In addition to improving pigmentation issues, Fraxel laser resurfacing creates textural changes. It works by removing the damaged tissue on the surface while using heat to stimulate collagen growth in lower layers, resulting in softer, brighter skin.
Hopefully, you found this information useful if you’re having an issue with stretch marks. As always, we would love for you to send us before and after photos if you have success with any of these treatments.