Considered one of the greatest enemies of women, stretch marks usually appear without warning, being a reason for aesthetic concern, lets take a look at the types of stretch marks, causes, treatments and prevention.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not only pregnant women who suffer from this problem. So many men and women can be affected by these, and they can appear at any age. Fortunately, stretch marks do not cause pain.
In this article we address stretch marks, seeking to answer the most frequently asked questions, namely what they are, what types exist, what are their causes and what treatments can help to mitigate their effects.
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are linear lesions that form on the skin. These scars are small breaks in the collagen fibers and are formed when there is a sudden stretching (distension) of the skin, that is, when the skin is forced to stretch more than normal.
This distension can occur during pregnancy or with sudden weight loss or gain, as well as hormonal and genetic factors.
Stretch marks have variable extensions and are more common in the regions of the hips, thighs, back, buttocks, arms and breasts.
What are the types of stretch marks?
They can be grouped into three types:
- Red or purple streaks: These are more recent lesions, where the tissue has not yet been fully affected. They have this color due to the blood that still circulates in the place. Stretch marks are easier to treat, as they are recent.
- White, superficial and narrow streaks: Over time the streaks will lose their hue until they become white. When they are in this phase, they no longer receive blood supply. The treatment for this type of stretch mark should be more intense.
- White, deep and wide stretch marks: They are older stretch marks and difficult to treat, requiring more invasive methods.
What are the causes of stretch marks?
As a general rule, stretch marks appear after excessive distension of the skin or abruptness of the skin, triggering inflammation and the rupture of the elastic and collagen fibers of the tissue.
Usually, these skin breaks appear in people who suffer from the so-called “accordion effect”, that is, they put on weight and lose weight quickly, in addition to other situations, among them:
- Rapid growth during puberty;
- Prolonged use of corticosteroids;
- Excessive physical exercise (increase in muscles);
- Anorexia ;
Do stretch mark treatments work?
There are numerous treatments to combat stretch marks, however, not all are equally effective. It is best to consult your dermatologist before proceeding with any treatment.
First, it is important to identify the color of the stretch marks in order to determine which treatment is the most appropriate, given that for each type of color there is a specific treatment.
Reddish stretch marks can still be treated more easily, due to the presence of blood vessels in the area. The purple ones are already in an intermediate phase, but they can still be solved. White, on the other hand, shows this coloration due to the lack of blood irrigation, which indicates a much lower regeneration capacity than other types of stretch marks.
Therefore, for a good result, it is recommended that the treatment be carried out as soon as possible, preferably as soon as the first stretch marks appear – the phase in which they still present a red or purple color.
Among the most common treatments for stretch marks, we highlight:
- Pulsed light: treatment that uses a non-ablative light energy source, without generating cuts or injuries. It consists of a beam of polychromatic light that stimulates the production of collagen and elastin in the skin. As the “aggression” is mild, it is indicated for recent or reddish streaks, improving the appearance and color.
- Microneedling: aesthetic treatment where it is possible, through micro-perforations in the skin, to stimulate the formation of new collagen fibers. It can improve up to 80% the skin texture. It is indicated for the treatment of reddish streaks and for white, but superficial and narrow streaks. It is recommended that this procedure is performed only by dermatologists.
- Subcision or subcutaneous surgery without incision: Also recommended for the removal of cellulite, the subcision is a surgical procedure in which needles are used to displace the dermis, promoting the rupture of fibrosis. The movement of the needles promotes a new reorganization of the tissue, thus reducing the width and depth of the stretch marks. The results of this procedure can be seen in 30 to 60 days, during which healing occurs. Suitable for white, wide and deep streaks.
- Radiofrequency: aesthetic treatment widely used to treat wrinkles, sagging (face and body) and stretch marks. It is a non-invasive method that raises the temperature of the skin and muscle, contracting the existing collagen and increasing its production. The result is gradual.
- Intradermotherapy: It consists of injecting substances directly into the stretch mark, causing a reaction in the body and stimulating the production of collagen in the skin. It is indicated for white and deeper streaks.
- Dermabrasion: it is an abrasive process that removes the epidermis and superficial dermis, acting as a “scratch on the stretch mark”. Generally, this technique is associated with intradermotherapy, being indicated for white and deep stretch marks.
- Medicines for topical use: Creams based on retinoic acid, glycolic acid or vitamin C improve the production of collagen in the skin, reducing the length and width of stretch marks. The treatment is carried out at home, with the local application of the cream during the night, before sleeping.
How to prevent the appearance of stretch marks?
Although stretch marks are a natural process of the body and there is no definite cause for their appearance, some measures can be taken to prevent or delay their appearance:
- Avoid gaining or losing weight suddenly, namely restrictive diets and control your body weight;
- Use dermo-cosmetics, creams and moisturizing oils indicated by your dermatologist. Apply body creams mainly, in regions where the skin suffers great strains and during the period of pregnancy (belly and breasts, for example);
- Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and to keep your body functioning properly. Remember to drink at least two liters of water a day;
- Avoid foods with excess sodium. Sodium retains fluid and causes swelling in some parts of the body;
- Have a healthy diet. Consume foods rich in vitamin A, C and E.
- Avoid consuming sweets and fried foods;
- Practice physical exercise. Regular exercise will help maintain skin elasticity, as well as preventing the appearance of other problems, such as cellulite;
- Consult a dermatologist for a good diagnosis. This health professional is qualified to assess the affected area, the type of skin and indicate the most appropriate treatment.