The Unruly Stretch Mark…

We all have them… well, at least 90% of us women do! And Men… you can get them too!

WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE:

Stretch marks occur in the dermis- beneath the surface of the skin. It is for this reason that they are SO difficult to get rid of.

Collagen plays a huge role in holding the connective tissue in the skin together, but in a sudden growth spurt, weight gain or loss, production of collagen usually has a hard time keeping up. As a result, some people develop fine scars which we call, stretch marks. These scars start off pink, purple, red or brown in color, but fade overtime leaving a white or silvery line(s). If you run your finger over a stretch mark you can usually feel an indentation or dent in the skin and you may also notice that the integrity of the skin is different from the un-scarred skin around it.

THE CULPRIT:

Stretch marks typically occur due to rapid weight gain or loss. They are extremely common during pregnancy (for obvious reasons), but they are also quite prevalent during the teen years due to growth spurts and increased levels of steroid hormones – causing significant changes throughout the body. In addition, stretch marks can also be brought on by weight lifting and obesity. GENETICS plays a major role as well. Chances are if your mother or father has them from any of the above factors you are likely to get them for any of those reason as well.

WHERE THEY CAN SHOW UP:

The pigment in the skin can often determine how noticeable stretch marks are. The darker the pigment, the darker, more noticeable they tend to be. That’s why if you have a light complexion and tan your skin, stretch marks tend to POP all of a sudden. That is because the skin where the stretch marks occurred is compromised and no longer produced melanin (pigment). Tanner skin- whiter marks.

Common Areas:

In women and girls stretch marks commonly show up on the breasts, thighs, lower back, hips, inside of the upper arms, abdomen and bottom. In Men and boys stretch marks can show up in those places too, particularly if they are overweight or obese, plus on their arms from lifting weights.

TREATMENT:

Currently, there is no real method that will completely get rid of stretch marks. HOWEVER, there are definitely some treatments that help diminish their appearance and promote collagen and elastin production beneath the skin to help shrink them and make them less noticeable.

These treatments include:

– Chemical Peels/Retinoids: This method is used to encourage the growth of new collagen and help repair the skin.

– Microdermabrasion: This method can help to temporarily improve the appearance, but it must be done on a constant basis, about once a month, to maintain the results.

*Combination treatment of Chemical Peels and Microdermabrasion have shown better results than one or the other, alone.

– Laser Treatment: Laser, thus far, has been the most successful at diminishing and shrinking stretch marks. The more red or pigmented the marks, the more effective the treatment. This is because lasers pick up pigment (color) in the skin. This is also true because once stretch marks turn white or silver, they have been there a while, which makes them harder to treat. However, the latest development in the treatment of stretch marks is fractional laser therapy. These lasers have shown great improvement in white stretch marks and in texture- for individuals where the texture of the skin is more of a concern.

– Concealing: Concealing is an option if you have an important event or your stretch marks are in an area that you don’t necessarily want to ‘show off’. I have had some great success with Dermablend, a camouflage makeup line used to cover-up birthmarks, tattoos, skin conditions, and more. I have used both the Leg and Body Cover and the Concealer (together) for best results. Apply it just as you would a concealer. Pat and blend- don’t rub. Self-tanner is another great option. This works especially well on older, white/silver stretch marks. Tip: Use a q-tip to apply self tanner directly to the stretch marks for a more even application.

NOTE: Check with your Dermatologist first to see the severity and type of stretch marks you have and want treated. This will better determine which is the right option for you and provide optimum results.

PREVENTION:

Prevention really is key. Perhaps you can’t do much about the one’s you already have but you can educate yourself on how to make sure you don’t get anymore, or at least try to minimize the damage.

MY SECRET:

Oil- and LOTS of it!

Make it a habit. Every time you shower, follow up with an intense moisturizer or body oil. Under conditions such as pregnancy and puberty when you can definitely expect some drastic changes to your body, use a body oil. Re-apply 3-5 times a day to keep the skin lubricated. Make sure you use it ALL OVER since you don’t know which part of your body is vulnerable and may be effected the most.

When I was pregnant with Cohen, I used Basq Resilient Belly Oil, and I did NOT just limit it to my belly! I used it EVERYWHERE. I was hoping to diminish the possible marks I was to inherit during pregnancy… and can I just tell you!? NOT ONE SINGLE LINE!! Its really an amazing and quality product. All natural ingredients, paraben-free, and doesn’t make you feel ‘greasy’ OR stain your clothes.

There’s really no guarantee, since genetics is definitely a factor that you will be as lucky as I was, or that I’ll be lucky the next time around (IF, there’s a next time) ;), but I am absolutely certain that if you lubricate your skin the

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