Stretch marks are an incredibly popular topic on mommy blogs and online parenting chat groups, but they’re far from a moms-only issue. Stretch marks can affect people of all ages and genders, and understandably, most people want a way to get rid of them. To help you better understand your stretch marks, our skin care specialists at Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center are here to fill you in on the essential facts you need to know.
Stretch Marks Are Made of Scar Tissue
Did you know stretch marks are actually scars? They appear when your skin is stretched too quickly for your skin’s natural elasticity to keep up with the stretching. This is especially common during pregnancy, puberty and growth spurts, rapid weight fluctuations, and rapid muscle growth. When this happens, the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin rupture and your body repairs them with scar tissue.
Many Factors Affect Stretch Marks
You’ve probably noticed that some people develop more severe stretch marks than others. It isn’t just a matter of luck. There are several factors that affect stretch marks and the way they look, such as your unique skin, where your stretch marks appear, the severity and timeframe of your skin’s stretching, genetics, and even hormones. Stress hormones, for example, can weaken the fibers of your skin and make them more likely to rupture.
You’ll notice that stretch marks also change with time. They usually start out looking raised and potentially pink or red. Over time, they fade and fall below your skin so they’re depressed instead of raised. While stretch marks generally fade over the course of several years, they don’t go away entirely.
Topical Products Have Minimal Effect on Stretch Marks
There are countless topical products today that claim to reduce stretch marks, but unfortunately, most of them have little if any impact. Most of these products are primarily moisturizers, which may reduce the appearance of your stretch marks for a matter of hours but they won’t make a long-term difference. There is some evidence that hydrating products with hyaluronic acid can improve stretch marks if you use them while your skin is stretching or while the stretch marks are new.
The other types of products that may have some impact on stretch marks are products containing retinol. While the improvement is not extreme, these products may help to reduce the scar tissue and strengthen your skin over time. However, retinol products shouldn’t be used by people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
There Are (Reliable) Treatments for Stretch Marks
While topical products have minimal effects on stretch marks, there are other reliable ways to reduce stretch marks, including stretch marks you’ve had for years.
The first treatment option is microneedling for stretch marks. During a microneedling procedure, our highly trained and advanced specialists use an applicator with ultrafine needles to trigger your body’s healing process throughout the area. This causes your body to produce more collagen to smooth and reduce the scar tissue of your stretch marks.
Another way we treat stretch marks is with laser scar reduction treatments. Much like microneedling, laser treatments activate your body’s healing process to break down old scar tissue and replace it with smoother collagen that is more consistent with your natural skin.
If you’re looking for a short-term way to camouflage stretch marks, sunless tanner or a spray tan may be able to give your stretch marks a temporary tone that is more similar to your skin tone. Be sure to avoid tanning, though, whether you’re laying out in the sun or in a tanning bed. Not only does sun exposure increase your risk for skin cancer and break down the collagen in your skin, but it can make stretch marks more pronounced because scar tissue doesn’t tan.
Reducing Your Stretch Marks
If you have stretch marks and you’d like to minimize their appearance, our team at Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center is proud to help. Schedule a free skin care consultation to discuss your stretch mark treatment options. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more tips.