What causes stretch marks?
Well stretch marks occur in the dermis, the elastic middle layer of skin that allows it to retain its shape. However, when constantly stretched, the dermis can break down leaving behind stretch marks.
Stretch marks can be caused by a number of things such as rapid weight gain/loss or more commonly pregnancy. It has also been said that genetic factors -- including inherited defects of connective tissues -- also play a role. Soooooo if your mom had them, chances are that you will probably get them as well.
What can I do to prevent them?
Prevention is important!
- Avoid rapid weight gain/loss. For pregnant women eat healthy and try to avoid excessive amounts of fatty food. This has been tough for me because I love fast food! However, at 20 weeks I have gained 11.5 lbs...not bad
- Drink water! Water keeps your skin hydrated which in return can prevent stretch marks.
- Moisturize. Apply moisturizing creams that contain cocoa butter &/or shea butter. With all my pregnancies I have used Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Cream for Stretch Marks. Below are pictures of my results from doing the above tips, although I do have a few stretch marks, I think I'm doing pretty well for pregnancy #3.
Can I get rid of them?
According to WebMD "The appearance of stretch marks depends on the color of your skin; they can start out pink, reddish brown, brown, or dark brown, and fade over time to a more silvery color. Once stretch marks have appeared, it's essential to treat them as early as possible. Research has focused exclusively on the early stages of stretch marks, when they are still red or purple and most readily respond to treatment."
There are many products on the market that claim to "repair/get rid of" stretch marks but keep in mind few actually work. WebMD has a great list of products available and what they can & can not do for your stretch marks:
- Wheat germ oil: There is not much scientific data on whether home remedies for stretch marks, such as wheat germ oil, can help. One recent study did find it helped improve stretch marks in their early phase.
- Glycolic acid: Widely touted for its rejuvenation powers, glycolic acid is a sugar cane derivative and a member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family. It most likely works on stretch marks by increasing collagen production, says Baumann, MD, director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Group and author of The Skin Type Solution. Glycolic acid can also be administered in higher doses by a dermatologist. Treatment typically costs around $100 and requires three or four office visits before results will appear.
- Vitamin C: Certain formulations of vitamin C, which have become increasingly popular as over-the-counter brands, may also increase collagen production and help early-stage stretch marks, says Baumann. For maximum effect, combine with glycolic acid. Vitamin C supplements may also be effective. She suggests 500 milligrams three times a day.
- Relastin, peptide-containing products: The jury is still out on Relastin, an eye and face cream product marketed for its ability to increase elastic tissue production. But peptide-containing products, which are widely marketed as effective "repair" creams, are a waste of time and money, Baumann says. Despite commercial claims, there is no convincing data that these work.
- Retinoids: A family of products that includes vitamin A, retinoids have been shown to be fairly effective in increasing collagen and elastic production during the early stages. Retinoids should be avoided entirely if pregnant or nursing. Retinol, tretinoin, and the prescription medications Retin-A, Renova, Tazorac, and Differin are examples of retinoids.
- Glycolic acid and retinoids: Using these together may provide better results. According to Elsaie, while glycolic acid alone for stretch mark treatment has not been fully studied, a trial comparing glycolic acid plus tretinoin with glycolic acid plus vitamin C both showed equal improvement and increased elastic in stretch marks after 12 weeks of daily application. Various prescription-strength retinoids are often applied as a preparation to "rev up" the skin before a glycolic acid peel is applied.
- Laser treatment: This popular treatment option is used by many dermatologists, and they are also being tried on white stretch marks, as well.