While 90% of women experience stretch marks at some stage in life, others avoid them completely. As such, it’s helpful to understand what causes stretch marks and what you can do to try and get rid of them, which is the focus of this article.
What are stretch marks?
Also known as straie, stretch marks are long scars that appear on the body when your skin stretches or shrinks quickly. They are caused by a disruption in the normal production of collagen in the body, which is affected by the likes of puberty, fast weight gain or loss, and pregnancy. Hormonal changes can also contribute to the appearance of stretch marks.
The causes of stretch marks
Rapid weight gain
Rapid increases in body weight can pose a big challenge to your skin and is a typical cause of stretch marks. As you gain muscle and fat, your skin is forced to stretch to accommodate this growth, and due to its elasticity, it’s often not able to stretch sufficiently, resulting in a scar-like mark. During pregnancy, a surge in weight gain is common around the six or seven-month mark, and pregnancy, as a result, is one of the leading causes of stretch marks in women.
As you get older, the natural collagen and elastin levels in your skin begin to decline. Therefore, your skin is less able to recover from any damage that is caused. Younger skin is incapable of stretching as much as older skin to accommodate rapid weight gain. However, if a stretch mark appears on older skin, it is less able to repair naturally, which means the mark is much more likely to be permanent in older people.
There’s a clear link between hormones and the health of your skin. In women, balanced estrogen levels are integral for maintaining skin structure and hydration. Significant changes in estrogen levels (as occurs during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause) mean that the skin is more susceptible to damage and stretch marks.
As is the case with cellulite, genetics play a significant role in determining how likely you are to develop stretch marks. If your parents have stretch marks, you’re also likely to develop them. This is because a trait can be passed down genetically that results in a lack of elastin in the skin, which is the connective tissue required to enable the skin to stretch.
How to remove stretch marks
Fortunately, there are several ways you can try to remove stretch marks, including:
Keeping your skin hydrated can improve your body’s ability to heal itself. You can cut back on your alcohol consumption, apply sunscreen, and use an effective moisturiser. These are all preventive measures that can be effective. For stretch marks that are already showing, you can opt for topical treatments containing tretinoin. As a retinoid-based treatment, they sink into the skin and repair some of the damage caused by stretch marks.
People with darker skin tones who might be susceptible to hyperpigmentation might find micro-needling as an effective way to treat stretch marks. This process uses tiny pins that create tiny wounds on the surface of the skin before triggering the skin’s natural response to wounds. As a result, it boosts collagen production and sends new skin cells to the treated area in order to replace those that have been damaged. Therefore, it can effectively reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Radiofrequency skin resurfacing treatments
Radiofrequency skin resurfacing treatments use NanoFractional RF technology to deliver heat well below the skin’s surface. This triggers the natural collagen production cycle and aids the reparation of damaged skin while gradually reducing the prominence of your stretch marks.
While prevention is often better than the cure when it comes to stretch marks, you sometimes need to undertake treatment to reduce their appearance on your skin. Be sure to check out Legology’s Micro-Lite Kit and Exfo-Lite Scrub to improve the way that you look after your skin this year.