Your comprehensive guide to stretch marks—what causes them and how to treat them
Stretch marks are scars that develop in the dermis layer of our skin, just beneath the surface. Stretch marks are normally caused by rapid stretching of the skin during growth. There are multiple causes for this—from pregnancy to sudden weight gain and weight loss. The quick stretching of the skin damages the collagen tissues, leading to the lines or scars that we know as stretch marks. While they are completely harmless, they do tend to make many conscious of their appearance. However, they are incredibly common and you can easily minimise their appearance or fade them using clinical treatments. Stretch marks causes, as mentioned, include pregnancy, weight gain or loss, puberty, and rapid growth. All of these stretch mark causes make the skin stretch rapidly in a short amount of time, and as such the characteristic white lines appear. Here are five facts you need to know about stretch marks along with two treatments that work to reduce them.
- Stretch marks mostly appear on specific areas of the body, parts which have excess fat stored such as upper arms, thighs, abdomen, breasts, hips, and so on.
- They develop inside the body, not on the outside. More specifically, stretch marks develop in the dermal (middle) layer of the skin. This layer also contains fibre and collagen, which help make our skin appear smooth. If these fibres break as a result of rapid stretching of the skin, they produce stretch marks.
- Since stretch marks are scars that develop inside the body, little can be done with topical oils and treatments. The most ideal stretch marks treatment is a clinical one so that it is treated from within.
- The appearance of stretch marks varies from person to person. They look different for different people, some may have only 2-3 light lines, whereas some will show multiple lines.
- Pregnancy is by far the most common cause for stretch marks. When the abdomen grows to accommodate the foetus, the skin stretches causing the fibres to break. The same happens with the breasts as well when they prepare to produce milk.
How can you treat stretch marks?
Microneedling is a minimally invasive clinical treatment for stretch marks. The procedure involves the use of microneedles to create small punctures on the outermost layer of the skin to penetrate the dermis. The wounds or micro-injuries traumatize the skin and trigger the body’s natural response of creating more collagen and elastin to heal the wounds. Once that is done, the skin sees improved texture and firmness, and a minimisation in stretch marks. The healing process of the skin undergoes three phases—inflammation (the pierce triggers the immune system to naturally create new tissue, disinfect the wound and increase blood flow); proliferation (the wound begins to heal itself with temporary new cells, collagen and elastin); and finally, the remodelling (collagen is strengthened and the skin becomes tight and contracted). Stretch marks are caused by a disruption in the production of collagen, so when microneedling treatment is done, it restarts this production process. It also penetrates the skin and works in the same layer that stretch marks occur instead of resting on the surface.
Fractional Co2 Laser
The Fractional Co2 Laser is another clinical stretch mark treatment. It is a non-invasive fractional laser that works at both the epidermal and dermal layers. This laser emits a non-ablative 1550-nm wavelength that has proven to reduce pigmentation with time.
While stretch marks are hard to prevent by virtue of being such a common and normal occurrence in everyone’s life, it is entirely possible to minimise their appearance and fade these scars over time. Of course, the most ideal solution includes clinical treatments, however, it is recommended to do your research before opting for any treatment and only consult a reputed professional to ensure best results. Book an appointment here to find out the best treatment for you.