How to Treat & Prevent Stretch Marks
Stretch marks, or striae, can be found on the bodies of women everywhere. These pink or purple marks often first appear during puberty or pregnancy, when rapid growth causes the skin to stretch beyond its normal capacity. Stretch marks are usually harmless, and they tend to become less noticeable over time. However, there are a wide range of prevention methods and treatments available that can speed up the fading process.
Maintain a healthy weight to keep your body from experiencing the rapid growth that causes stretch marks. While weight gain cannot be avoided during pregnancy, stretch marks may be less severe if the weight is gained slowly and steadily. Skin that is well-hydrated from drinking plenty of water is also less likely to form the microscopic tears that cause striae. Also, maintaining moisturized skin is effective in keeping stretch marks at bay.
Slather on a stretch mark cream. There are a myriad of creams available over-the-counter that are said to fade stretch marks. Most of the creams contain vitamins and oils, such as vitamin E and cocoa butter. The Mayo Clinic indicates that these products will probably not cause stretch marks to disappear. However, they will provide much-needed moisture to skin that has been stretched beyond its limits.
Rub on tretinoin cream. Tretinoin cream is available by prescription only. This cream is only effective on marks that have appeared within the last six weeks, and it works by rebuilding the collagen that makes up the skin. This improves skin's elasticity, helping the stretch marks to fade. Tretinoin cannot be used during pregnancy, and skin irritation is a possible side effect of treatment.
Try microdermabrasion. This is a process that uses tiny crystals to polish the skin's surface. The polishing portion is followed by a vacuuming portion in which the top layer of skin cells are removed. The goal with this treatment is to reach a layer of skin that has more elasticity than the topmost layer. Microdermabrasion can be used on stretch marks that have been present for extended periods.
Ask about laser treatment. Many types of laser therapy can be performed by a physician. Examples include the pulsed dye laser and fractional photothermolysis, which stimulate collagen formation in the deep layers of the skin. The excimer laser works by a different method. It stimulates the skin to produce melanin. Melanin determines the color of the skin, and the excimer laser helps the discolored stretch marks to blend in with the unaffected skin. Although laser therapy requires little recovery time, it can be quite expensive.
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