4 out of 5 women experience stretch marks before age 30. This is because the main causes of stretch marks are growth spurts and puberty during adolescence and pregnancy. Puberty is a period of high hormonal activity for adolescents, and during this time the adrenal glands produce more cortisol, which promotes the formation of stretch marks. Around 70% of women report experiencing stretch marks either before or after their pregnancies. This is due to the rapid stretching of the skin, due to gaining or loosing weight. The stretch marks appear often brutally on very specific areas, like the stomach, breasts, butt, and thighs. They generally appear around the sixth month of pregnancy and the number of previous pregnancies does not influence their occurrence. Like puberty and pregnancy, stress is also a factor which can cause spikes in the bodies cortisol production. Stretch marks actually occur in the strong middle layer of your skin (the dermis), which supports your skin’s outer surface (the epidermis). When the elastic fibers of the dermis which consist of collagen and elastin are altered they can no longer ensure their key role in skin elasticity. Early stretch marks that are in formation are red or purple and in time they mature becoming a pearly white color.
How to deal with stretch marks?
This article will focus on the different treatments available to get rid of stretch marks. It is important to note that before the discovery of LED (also called Expired Cool Laser or Low Level Laser Therapy), there was no effective treatment to erase or mitigate stretch marks.
- Micro-needling roller :
Using a dermal roller with microscopic needles that puncture the dermis, the Micro-needling roller stimulates the production of new collagen. This process utilizes the skins ability to heal itself, the targeted area becomes plump and firm, once the microscopic channels created by the dermal roller trigger the body’s healing response by creating new collagen and elastin. Once the pores are opened the body floods the area with collagen and blood supply to the area is increased, this has a beneficial effect on the skin as a whole. Micro-needling improves the skin’s tone and texture reducing the appearance and pigmentation of stretch marks.
- Our Opinion : Ideal treatment for prevention of stretch marks as well as a complement to LED or radio frequency treatments. Micro-needling should be avoided with laser treatment as it is too abrasive and aggressive for the skin alongside laser treatments.
- Creams and Anti-stretch mark lotions
Anti-stretch mark creams are virtually the only existing mild treatment against stretch marks, along with medicated creams.
Anti-stretch mark creams :
- Are sold in pharmacies without the need for a prescription.
- Are usually completely safe to use during pregnancy (Confirm with Pharmacist).
Their effectiveness depends on the individual and the type of stretch mark :
- They are composed of mostly natural substances: vitamins, silicon, emollients (such as vaseline and glycerin) or placental extracts, shea butter, argan oil, cocoa butter …
- They moisturize the skin, thereby making it less fragile (less marks and retains its elasticity).
- They work by preventing the appearance of stretch marks, they can also sometimes lessen their effects.
The most effective ingredients for the treatment of stretch marks:
- Centella asiatica : is a star ingredient to fight stretch marks, also known as Tiger Grass, as big cats roll around in it to relieve their wounds. The plant contains asiaticoside, a triterpene glycoside that scientists have proven efficient in fighting the appearance of stretch marks.
- Vitamin E (found in sesame oil): Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to get rid of many skin problems such as stretch marks.
- Our opinion: Ideal for basic treatment at home to complement a dermal roller. Anti-stretch mark creams work well for prevention but will not be efficient enough effectively diminish stretch marks without an adapted cosmetic treatment such as LED or radio frequency.
SOFT PROCEDURES :
- LED photomodulation or cool laser (also called Low Level Laser Therapy) :
Developed by NASA to accelerate tissue healing and regeneration in space, the LED treatment or photomodulation has revealed itself to be very effective in repairing the skin and erasing stretch marks and scars.
Photomodulation (or chromostimulation) is a treatment using LED (Light Emiting Diode) to stimulate the production of elastic fibers in the skin (collagen and elastin) and thus reduce stretch marks.
Moreover, photomodulation improves blood circulation and helps the skin’s restructuring. After treatment, the overall quality of the skin is improved.
Contrary to treatments such as laser or peeling, LED photodynamic is a natural treatment that does not attack the skin. Treatment with luminostimulation (or photomodulation) is effective on all types of stretch marks:
Mature stretch marks (white) are attenuated by at least 50%.
recent stretch marks (red and inflammatory) can sometimes completely disappear. Please note as with all treatments to reduce stretch marks, photomodulation remains most effective on recent stretch marks.
- Our opinion: gentle and non-invasive method to effectively erase stretch marks – natural treatment that does not attack the skin.
Testimony : Dr Jean-Paul Tedgui, Philippe Blanchemaison and Claude Le Goff – The treatment of stretch marks with LED photobiomodulation
We confirm a significant improvement in the appearance of stretch marks, and consequently an increase of the skin’s tonic qualities in treated areas; regardless of the type of stretch marks and skin, but with faster results on the most recent stretch marks.
Phototherapy by LED is a safe, fast and efficient form of technology, at the forefront of scientific and therapeutic development. Besides being totally painless, one of the great advantages of this technology is its security.
- Radio frequency :
Radio frequency treatments induce collagen production this helps to eliminate stretch marks. It is a non-invasive and safe option to improve the skin’s appearance. Radio frequency uses heat to penetrate the dermis, which in turn stimulates fibroblasts and produces elastin and collagen.
Four to six treatments is typically all it takes to fully eliminate stretch marks. After the first session, patients will notice an immediate tightening effect due to the retraction of collagen fibers under the effect of the heat. Radio frequency, can significantly improve the quality of the skin due to the increase in collagen. Since the skin is firmer, tighter and more elastic, the texture of the stretch mark is improved and the color of newer stretch marks is dramatically reduced as they begin to fade. The patient may also notice a reduction in cellulite following treatment.
- Our opinion: ideal complement to LED treatment to firm and smooth the skin and improve the texture of stretch marks.
- Laser :
Various lasers can be used in the treatment of stretch marks:
– Fractional resurfacing lasers on the less recent stretch marks.
– Non-ablative remodeling lasers on darker skin.
– Vascular Lasers and Medical pulsed light to act on the most recent and colored stretch marks.
These treatments are very painful and have possible side effects (scars, marks, redness …)
- Our opinion: May reduce the appearance of stretch marks but will not make them disappear – limited to red stretch marks – risk of scarring
The treatment of stretch marks with cosmetic surgery is possible when there are stretch marks present on areas with excess skin and fat. In this case, it is possible to remove these skin surpluses. Either with Abdominoplasty (tummy): mainly for stretch marks after pregnancy, or reduction of the skin on the arms and sometimes thighs. The treatment of stretch marks with cosmetic surgery involves:
- Going under local or general anesthesia
- Several days of hospitalization
- Post-surgical requirements: dressings and care, sick leave …
- New Scars
- Our opinion: risky and complex undertaking, which can lead to the creation of new scars
CONCLUSION: the best treatment against stretch marks entails a combination of different technologies for in depth and surface treatment of stretch marks. For a soft method and effective results on all types of stretch marks, opt for LED or radio frequency rather than more aggressive lasers that are limited to red stretch marks. Whatever the chosen treatment, the anti-stretch mark roller is an indispensable ally to improve results.