Stretch marks (striae) are indented streaks that often appear on the abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks, and thighs. Over time they become less noticeable. Stretch marks are particularly common in pregnant women, especially during the last trimester. Treatment can make stretch marks fade, but it won’t completely remove them.
Stretch marks aren’t painful or harmful, but some people feel distressed about the way they make their skin look.
Causes of stretch marks
Stretch marks seem to be caused by a stretching of the skin. Their severity is affected by several factors, including your genetic tendency, degree of stress on the skin, and cortisone level. Cortisone — a hormone produced by the adrenal glands — weakens elastic fibers in the skin
Treatment of stretch marks
You may not like how stretch marks make your skin look, but they don’t require medical treatment. They are harmless and often fade over time. If you do seek treatment for stretch marks, know that treatments are only partially effective and won’t remove them completely.
The following treatments are among those available to help improve the appearance and texture of stretch marks. None has been proved to be more consistently successful than the others.
- Retinoid cream. Derived from vitamin a, retinoid — such as tretinoin (Retina, Renova, Avita) — that you apply to your skin may improve the appearance of stretch marks less than a few months old. Tretinoin, when it works, helps to rebuild collagen, making the stretch marks look more like your normal skin. Tretinoin can irritate your skin.
If you’re pregnant or nursing, talk with your doctor about other treatment options, because possible side effects of retinoid cream may affect the baby.
- Light and laser therapies. A variety of light and laser therapies are available to help stimulate the growth of collagen or elastin in your skin. Your doctor can help you determine which technique is appropriate for you.
- This type of treatment involves a hand-held device that blows crystals onto skin. These crystals gently remove a fine layer of skin, promoting the growth of new, more-elastic skin.
Collagen boosters: there are many products that may contribute to increased production of collagen in the skin, including lupine extract.
Quintilla asiatica: its herbal oil is available in the form of creams in pharmacies without the need for a prescription. Its ability to promote the manufacture of collagen in the body and building skin tissue, and may be used in some cases to recover from wounds.
Bitter almond oil: used by massage the affected area with this oil.
Moisturizers: including cocoa butter, Shea butter, olive oil, and vitamin e oil. These natural creams contribute to skin smoothness, and it is not yet clear how effective it is in treatment and reducing stretch marks.
Factors that may help to have stretch marks:
Anyone can develop stretch marks, but some factors increase your likelihood of getting them, including:
- Being female
- Having a personal or family history of stretch marks
- Being pregnant, especially for younger women
- Being overweight or obese
- Rapidly gaining or losing weight
- Using corticosteroid medication
- Undergoing breast enlargement surgery
- Having Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, or certain other genetic disorders
Prevention of stretch marks
The best way to reduce the likelihood of getting stretch marks is to maintain a healthy weight. During pregnancy, you’ll gain weight over a relatively brief period. Work with your doctor to avoid gaining too much by eating well and exercising. This not only minimizes stretch marks but also is healthy for you and your baby.
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Ala’a abu jamea