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A recent study funded by the Michigan Medicine Department of Dermatology and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology about the impact of pregnancy stretch marks and scars on women found that 75 percent reported having raised or prominent marks. A third of these women further claimed that it was a “major cause of embarrassment.”
The findings, published in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, led researchers to theorize that their concern over stretch marks could be a significant contributor to increased anxiety and depression during pre- and post-pregnancy.
While the paper acknowledges that it would be a challenge to completely eradicate stretch marks and lesions, there are certain procedures that can help lessen their redness and texture.
But first, let’s discuss what stretch marks are and what causes them.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are medically known as striae distansae. They are a type of scar that looks like fine lines on the skin. It typically occurs when the skin is overstretched. It can occur at any age, with experts proclaiming it’s a normal part of puberty when teen girls and boys typically go through a growth spurt. It is also common in obese people and can happen in any part of the body.
On the other hand, stretch marks that happen as a result of pregnancy are medically known as striae gravidarum. Whether as a by-product of pregnancy or as a result of the skin stretching and shrinking quickly, stretch marks do not pose any health risks.
However, the study cited above shows that it can be quite mentally and emotionally devastating for many people, especially women, to have visible stretch marks.
In the following section, let’s take a look at the various ways medical science is helping people lessen the severity of their stretch marks.
Medical Treatments for Stretch Marks
At Vargas Face and Skin Center, we offer various skin rejuvenation procedures for your face and different body parts. One of these is Vivace microneedling. It is a form of treatment that is perfectly suited for stretch marks because, through the use of small needles, it is able to encourage the creation of new collagen and elastin on the skin.
What sets the Vivace microneedling procedure apart from traditional microneedling is the heat component brought about by the RF energy. The tiny punctures combined with the heat from the RF energy aid in speeding up the body’s natural healing process, which occurs in three phases:
- The tiny puncture wounds from the needles signal the beginning of the body’s natural healing capability.
- As the body starts to heal, it produces its initial supply of collagen.
- At this point, the body starts to strengthen its production of collagen, giving the skin a tighter and firmer appearance.
Little wonder then that microneedling is also commonly called Collagen Induction Therapy. But the best thing about microneedling for stretch marks is that it penetrates deep into the skin, allowing the healing to happen within the same layers as opposed to just at surface level and ensuring the treatment lasts a long time.
Another procedure your dermatologist might recommend for treating stretch marks is through laser/light therapy. Similar to microneedling, this is a safe, non-invasive procedure. Unlike microneedling, it uses infrared and visible red light energy to encourage skin cell regeneration.
The procedure reduces the appearance of stretch marks by softening and flattening the skin. Most experts also recommend that you do a series of 20 sessions to achieve the desired effect. The good news is that results are generally permanent, though some people might have to come in for follow-up treatments.
Other benefits to laser/light therapy for stretch marks include improved circulation and immune response in the treatment area, more collagen production, and you don’t have to take any pain medication after the procedure.
While the medical procedures listed above are generally safe for pregnant women or those who are nursing, some dermatologists might also recommend combining these procedures with treatments you can readily do at home.
Some of the more common creams and oils used by many women include:
- Argan oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Castor oil
- Shea butter
- Aloe vera
- Petroleum jelly
These remedies are said to help regain elasticity in the skin. However, unlike medical procedures, it will take more time to see any significant difference in the skin’s texture and results are not guaranteed.
Minding your diet
In addition to these remedies, there are also certain habits you can form that would help lessen the appearance of stretch marks. One of these is being mindful of what you eat and drink. For instance, foods rich in Vitamins C like berries, citrus fruits, and tomatoes are able to help accelerate the body’s natural healing process.
Meanwhile, foods rich in Vitamin E like avocados, broccoli, and almonds are known to be great skin nourishers and antioxidants. And incorporating these into your daily diet would help prevent the formation of stretch marks.
Drink plenty of water
As with most recommended home remedies for any skin issues, drinking plenty of water is also advice that people looking to avoid stretch marks from forming should heed. Most health experts say eight to 10 glasses a day is optimal, while others believe that sipping on water throughout the day is most beneficial.
Regardless of which school of thought you follow, there’s no question that the body needs to be adequately hydrated to function properly and to help keep your skin soft and supple.
Well-rounded Solutions for Stretch Marks
But the best thing about medical treatments and homeopathic remedies is that they’re not mutually exclusive; you can easily incorporate natural elements with medical innovations.
So if your stretch marks are causing you distress and anxiety, talk to your doctor immediately. As evidenced in the study noted earlier in this article, feeling anxious about stretch marks resulting from your pregnancy could lead to more serious mental health issues, such as post-natal depression.
At Vargas Face and Skin Center, we understand that pregnancy stretch marks may seem like badges of honor you can proudly display. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with it if it’s becoming a chief concern.
Schedule an appointment with us today and let’s discuss your best options for stretch mark treatments.