Stretch marks Helpful guide - Types,Causes, Prevention, and Treatments

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Stretch marks are one of the most prevalent skin problems in the world. During their lives, women have a 75% chance of developing stretch marks. In this post, we are going through the following.
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Stretch marks - Types, Causes, Avoidance, Prevention, Treatments
Men can also be concerned with this problem. However, it is less frequent within the male population, because one of the principal causes of stretch marks is pregnancy. Stretch Marks can also occur due to puberty, weight loss, and even muscle building.

By adopting some measures and avoiding major risk factors, you can hopefully prevent them or at least lower their impact. If they happen, don't be stressed out about them, various treatments work perfectly nowadays.
We created this in-depth article to help you understand why stretch marks occur, what you need to do to avoid them and inform you of the best treatments available.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch Marks (1) are skin scars that happen when the skin on certain areas of your body stretches quickly because of rapid growth, your skin then reaches a point where a layer of your skin called Dermis (2)torn up, stretch marks are a part of the normal body healing process in which our organism creates the fibrous tissues (3) that compose the scar to replace the damaged skin's tissues.
Main Layers of Skins - Epidermis - Dermis - Subcutaneous Tissue

Your skin's elasticity limit (4) depends Mainly on your skin's Dermis which determines the ability of your skin to stretch, it varies from a person to another and rests on the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin.
There are 2 main factors to the development of stretch marks:
  1. Rapid growth caused by Pregnancy, weight gain, adolescence or even bodybuilding, because yes even a rapid muscular growth can lead to stretch marks; 
  2. The capacity of your skin to stretch which depends principally on your genetics and how healthy your skin is;
So now that you know what is exactly a stretch mark let's proceed to the next point of this section and check the different types of stretch marks.

Stretch Marks Types

Stretch Marks Types
Types of stretch marks Stretch marks Color Occurrence
Striae Distensae At maturity: White / Black or dark blue
Depending on the person's skin color
The most common type of stretch marks  due to quick body growth, studies show that its prevalence is the following:
  1. 43 out of 100 obese people will develop it
  2. 43 to 88 out of 100 pregnant women will develop it
  3. 6 to 86 out of 100 teenagers will develop it
Striae Atrophicans Purple This type of stretch mark affect mostly area of your body with thin skin, your skin becomes thinner due to aging, exposition to UV light and unhealthy lifestyle, bodybuilders who use steroids have a higher chance of developing them due to the negative effect of steroid on the skin
Striae Gravidarum Red, Pink, Purple These are the most frequent type of stretch marks that affect women during pregnancy, they have a 75% chances of occurring  and will mostly affect belly and hips
Striae Rubrae Red Striae Rubrae are fresh and new stretch marks when appearing they are usually red, this type of stretch marks is also the easiest to treat
Striae Albae white Striae Albae refer to mature stretch marks 
Striae nigra Black Striae Negrae are a rare type of stretch marks which appear mostly in people of color, there are not to be confused with Linea nigra which refer to the pregnancy dark line that appears on the stomach due to pregnancy hormones
Striae Caerulea Dark blue Striae caerulea are stretch marks that appear on people with darker skin

Ressource: Stretch Marks Types (5)  Research striae gravidarum (6)

Can stretch marks go away Without Treatments?

Since stretch marks are small scars, they won't go away completely without treatments, however, they can shrink and fade over with time to become less apparent, you can accelerate this natural healing process by adopting a healthier lifestyle and applying skincare creams on the affected area if you want to know more about this you can jump directly to this section of the post

Which body parts are most affected by Stretch marks?

The most affected areas of the body by stretch marks are body parts exposed to quick growth, for pregnant women stretch marks will appear mostly on stomach and hips if you gain weight in a short period stretch marks will appear in the areas where your body commonly store fat: waistline, thighs, butt, and arms, men who practice weight lifting tend to have stretch marks on their chest and shoulders.

What causes stretch marks?

In this section, we will go over the main causes of stretch marks, so let's start :

Stretch marks cause: Weight Gain / Weight Loss

Weight Gain

When you're overeating your organism transform the excess of nutrients into fat to store it in different areas of the body.
when this occurs the skin in those areas extend and may tear if not given enough time to adapt which will lead to the apparition of red stretch marks. 
Weight gain is the most widespread cause of stretch marks, a recent research on Striae Distensae, which is the formal appellation for stretch marks, shows that women are twice as likely to develop them than men.

Weight Loss

A significant weight loss can also be responsible for the occurrence of stretch marks, when you lose weight your skin retracts which causes it to stretch, when this happens too quickly you might develop stretch marks.
Resource: Research on Striea Distensae.

Stretch marks cause: Muscles Building

The muscular development causes your skin in some areas to stretch, when you gain muscles over a short period there is a probability that you develop stretch marks, the most affected areas are the shoulders and the upper chest.
This cause concerns men more than women of course females can develop stretch marks related to muscle development but it's rare, natural muscle development is much less important in the female population compared to men, so if you are a man and you're often hitting the gym you can be concerned by this problem.

Stretch marks cause: pregnancy

Stretch marks cause pregnancy

Giving birth to a baby is maybe one of the most beautiful gifts of life, however, it has its downsides, stretch marks are commonly developed during pregnancy, the first obvious reason is that your skin on the abdominal area needs to extend due to the growth of the baby, the second reason is that when you're pregnant you will probably eat much more and gain some extra pounds, this is a completely normal behavior during pregnancy, stretch marks start usually appearing around the sixth month, but it has been reported that you can develop them earlier.
Resource: Study of eating behavior during pregnancystriae Gravidarum.

Stretch marks cause: Breastfeeding

When you are breastfeeding your baby after pregnancy you will start to produce milk in your breasts, this process will increase your breast size which will force the skin on this particular area to stretch and eventually stretch marks will start to show up, however, you should keep in mind, that the best food for your baby, especially at the early stages of his life, is maternal milk, it will give him the nutrient he needs and protect him from issues like allergies, diabetes, and other diseases.
Resource: Importance of breastfeeding.

Stretch marks cause: Adolescence

During adolescence or puberty, a person's body is subject to an accelerated growth of the body, this situation leads to extend the skin rapidly which is the main reason of developing stretch marks, a study conducted on 157 adolescent show that 83 % of them developed stretch marks regardless of their gender male or female.
Resource: Study of stretch marks during adolescence.

Stretch Marks Risk Factors

Now that we have seen which are the main causes au stretch make, we will go over Factors that favor their development.

How Smoking Helps the development of stretch mark 

Your skin is composed mainly of collagen and elastin tissues which give your skin its strength and elasticity, smoking impact directly the production of collagen in your skin by reducing collagen synthesis rate, this makes your skin more vulnerable, favors the emergence of stretch marks and even accelerates the aging of the skin, smoking has also various negative effects on a person's health and reduces prenatal development of your baby during pregnancy.
Resource: effect of smoking on collagen production.

How your Genetics affect the development of stretch

If your parents have developed stretch marks at some point in their lives, you may also develop them if you go through one of the causes of stretch marks that I mentioned earlier, the genes you inherited of your parents define the physiological properties of your body like the color and the elasticity of your skin, the eyes, and risks of developing specific diseases, etc...
Resource: Study impact of genes on striae.

Stretch Marks Alcohol risks factors 

Alcohol intake is related to various skin problems, one of the major negative effects of drinking too much alcohol on your skin is dehydration which causes a lack of water in your body, dries your skin and make it thinner, exposing it to premature aging and therefore higher risks to develop stretch marks.
Resource: skin diseases related to alcohol intake

Exposure to UV light (sunlight ) without protection

Extensive exposure to UV light / Sunlight without the right protection harms your skin. It accelerates the aging process of the skin and reduces collagen production, so if you're willing to take a sunbath, consider putting some UV protection creams.

How to prevent Strech Marks?

How to prevent Strech Marks?

How a balanced diet prevents stretch marks?

Nutrition that includes various vitamins and minerals is necessary to keep your skin healthy and protect it from stretch marks and other issues, most beneficial vitamins for your skin include the following:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C contributes to the process of collagen synthesis which strengthens your skin. Vitamins C also may play a role in the protection of your skin from the effect of Ultraviolet light, rich vitamin C foods examples are peppers, broccoli Cauliflower.

Vitamin E 

Vitamin E synergizes with vitamin C and increases its protective properties on your skin, experts suggest that taking these 2 vitamins simultaneously lower drastically risks related to UV light exposure Rich vitamin E foods examples are almonds and their derivatives & olives oil.

Vitamin A 

Searches and studies suggest that vitamin A have protective and anti-aging properties, a very good source of vitamin A are carrots.
 Even if I didn't mention all the other vitamins, note that they all play an important role in your health that's why you should try to have a diversified diet.
Resource: Vitamins C, E, and A benefits on the skin.

How working out regularly prevents Stretch Marks?

Practicing a physical activity strengthens your skin and reduces the chances of developing stretch marks. Regular workout helps you control your weight and avoid sudden weight gain, in addition to that, exercising regulate your skin metabolism and slow down the aging process of the skin, recent studies revealed a direct link between working out and the overall health of your skin, the more you exercise the healthier your skin will be, however, keep in mind that lifting heavy weights can have the opposite effect.
Resource: Benefits of Exercising on skin.

How moisturizing prevents stretch marks?

Your body is made of 60% of water, all your body organs need water to function correctly including skin, when you are dehydrated or not hydrate enough your body transfer the available water to vital organs like the liver, heart,... to ensure they can fulfill their role properly, at the expense of less important organs like the skin, this situation dries the skin, weakens it and makes it less elastic, which increase your chance of developing stretch marks, the daily water intake depends on the person, gender, age but on average 6 to 8 glassesful of water are enough to stay well hydrated for healthy people.
Resource: Benefits of water on the body.

How Weight control prevents stretch marks?

As we've seen earlier, weight gain or weight loss on a brief period is one of the causes of stretch mark so if you want to lower the risks of stretch mark to appear you should always monitor your weight, one way of doing this is by having a well-balanced diet and exercising on regular bases, according to experts, you should stay in the range of -/+ 2 pounds weight variation per week, some of them say that you can take this value further up to 3 pounds.
The worst when it comes to weight control is yo-yo dieting, yo yo-dieting refers to a cycle of an important weight variation where a person alternate between a weight-loss period and weight gain period, it typically happen to people who let themself go during winter and start a drastic weight loss diet as summertime approaches.
Resource: Healthy weight loss.

Stretch Marks treatments

Useful info about stretch marks treatments

  1. Stretch marks are not harmful to your health, but they can be a source of uneasiness for certain people;
  2. You need to know that none of the stretch marks treatments are covered by your health insurance because stretch marks removal is considered to be a cosmetic procedure;
  3. It's easier to get rid of fresh stretch marks (red stretch marks) than the mature ones (white stretch marks);
  4. Except for plastic surgery, there are no stretch mark treatments which can make stretch marks disappear 100%, the most effective treatments can reduce their appearance up to 80%, making them barely visible;
With that said let us start reviewing the different stretch marks treatments available.

Topical creams and Home remedies for stretch marks

Stretch marks treatments based on creams and homemade remedies are the most popular because they are the most affordable, these treatments are based on using mixtures and lotions that can stimulate collagen and elastin production into your skin.

Our recommendation XYZCollagen

XYZ collagen stretch mark treatment

My wife used XYZcollagen to treat her stretch marks during pregnancy and it helped her a lot, XYZ collagen has 2 main benefits:
  1. It stimulates the production of collagen which helps in the treatment of your stretch marks; 
  2. It also helps slow down collagen breakdown in your skin which prevent the apparition of new stretch marks; 
XYZ collagen is a clinically proven product that really works flawlessly restoring and protecting your skin from stretch marks

How to improve the results of topical creams

To improve your results with this type of treatment, you can associate it with regular exfoliation of dead skin, which help you to get rid of dead skin cell and boost the production of collagen.
You can also use topical creams along with micro-needling at home by using a simple skin roller 
microneedling skin roler 

You should also be careful to not use a cream that can cause you an allergic reaction 

Microneedling Sessions to treat Stretch Marks

Microneedling is a procedure that consists of creating minuscule wounds on the surface of the skin affected by stretch marks with the help of a little device called derma-roller. These small injuries will cause your body to stimulate collagen production in these areas and evacuate the damaged skin tissues.
Microneedling can cause little bleeding even if it's painless, however, if your skin is too sensitive I discourage you from going under this procedure because it could have a damaging effect on your skin, the cost of a Microneedling session varies between 200 $ and 500 $, you will need usually need 3 to 6 sessions to treat an area. Microneedling sessions can also be an effective way to treat acne scars.
Resource: Microneedling in dermatology

Microdermabrasion for stretch marks

If you have sensitive skin, treating stretch marks with Microdermabrasion may be the best option for you.
A Microdermabrasion session lasts on average one hour, this procedure consists in exfoliating the top layer of the skin called " Epidermis " by spraying small crystals on the area affected by stretch marks then rubbing them with a special tool, by doing this you will promote collagen and elastin production.

A Microdermabrasion session cost around 130$ -200 $ and is conduct by a dermatologist, this procedure works better on newer stretch marks.
Resource: Striae Treatments

Laser Therapy for stretch marks

Laser therapy is a popular option for treating stretch marks, it includes exposing the skin to a high frequency a laser which will trigger the following effects:

  1. Promote skin regeneration by increasing the production of collagen in the treated area. 
  2. Increase the amount of melanin present in stretch marks to make stretch marks tend to your skin color, melanin is a compound in our skin that is responsible for its color.
The total cost of a Laser therapy is around 1 500 $ and 2500 $, it will require 3 to 6 sessions, you need 3 weeks between each session to let your skin recover from this procedure.

Cosmetic surgery for stretch Marks

Cosmetic surgery to remove stretch marks is a procedure that targets especially stretch marks on the abdominal area. This operation is done under general anesthesia and goes through the following stages:

  1. The doctor makes an incision underneath your belly button; 
  2. He removes the part of skin affected by stretch marks and tightens the stomach muscles; 
  3. The doctor then pulls the skin above the belly down to reconstruct the removed skin and create a new belly button. 
You can get decent results with the help of the treatments I mentioned above, some of them will even reduce stretch marks visibility up to 80%, making stretch marks barely visible, however, to get rid completely of a stretch marks Cosmetic surgery is the way to go, the cost of this procedure is expensive around 6000$.

Bottom line

To sum it up for you, variation in your weight are the main cause of stretch marks besides this, you have higher probabilities of developing stretch marks if you drink or smoke. You can prevent stretch marks by adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Start treating stretch marks as soon as they appear to see best results, however, there is no way to get rid of stretch marks entirely once they appear apart from surgery. Consult your doctor to see which treatment suits you the most.

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