Preventing and Treating Stretch Marks

March 28, 2012By

Stretch marks (or “striae”) are harmless, but they can look unattractive, and many people find them upsetting. The best way to deal with striae is to take preventative measures, as no treatment is likely to completely remove them afterwards, and while they may shrink to nearly invisible on their own, they often won’t completely disappear.

Prevention and Treatment Options…

What is it?

Photo of a pregnant woman treating stretch marksStriae form as a result of the second layer of the skin (the dermis) being drawn or pulled too tight for too long, causing a scar to form beneath the outer layer (the epidermis). They are only a cosmetic condition, and sadly for the many that experience them, treatments aren’t covered by most insurance plans as a result.

Causes

There are many causes of Striae. One of the most common causes is pregnancy—a huge percentage of pregnant women develop them. Other causes include fast weight gain or loss, rapid muscle growth, hormone changes, and anything else that causes the body’s shape to shift more quickly than the skin can easily keep up with. Taking steroids, especially when done for the explicit purpose of unnaturally fast muscle gain, is very likely to cause them. Sex changes, which generally involve large amounts of hormone supplements, are also likely to result in striae.

Preventing

Diet can play an important role in stopping these unsightly scars from forming. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight (or losing or gaining weight slowly to reach one), one can reduce their chances of developing this skin problem with a balanced diet featuring adequate protein, zinc, and vitamins A and C, accordingto WebMD.com.

People who suspect they are at risk for forming Striae, such as pregnant women and bodybuilders, may wish to take extra steps to keep the skin hydrated and strong. Moisturizers are often a good idea, and certain types of skin cream, particularly those containing vitamin E, may be effective at stopping striae from appearing if used daily.

Treating

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and rarely has that statement been truer than it is here. This condition is very difficult to treat. The most likely-to-succeed treatments are laser surgeries, which can stimulate the skin into healing more fully than before. It’s can be a good decision to speak to a dermatologist about the options available, but remember that even these methods aren’t likely to result in total removal.

While it can be tempting to use stretch mark removal cream, these creams have little to no support in the medical community, and aren’t likely to cause a significant improvement. However, they may be worth a shot when other options aren’t practical and it’s too late to prevent.

Looking to the Future

Since it is such a common affliction, there is considerable ongoing research in the field of striae removal. New techniques in surgery and new active ingredients are being explored, some (such as the use of vitamin E mentioned above) with very promising results. A real cure for skin problem may be just around the corner.

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