I’m not going to lie, my stretch marks definitely used to bug. Most days, I’d ignore them. Sometimes, I’d try to hide them. Other times, I just felt uncomfortable being naked in front of my husband or resisted going to the beach in a swimsuit. I get it. In the larger scheme of things, they’re not the biggest deal in the world…but there was always this annoying underlying, frustrating embarrassment I felt because of them, and it wore on me.
Luckily for you, I’ve compiled this easy-to-follow stretch mark cheat sheet to help you understand what causes stretch marks, and how you can get rid of them from the comfort of your own home! No more shame, no more hiding, no more stress.
Here’s what you’re going to learn in this post:
1. What Causes Stretch Marks
2. Different Stretch Mark Types & Their Appearance
3. The Role Of Collagen in Stretch Marks
4. The Main Risk Factors For Stretch Marks
5. How To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks
6. Proven At-Home Stretch Mark Treatments
What Causes Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are typically caused by a period of rapid growth. When the skin stretches to accommodate this rapid growth, skin fibers in the deeper layers of the skin tear, causing the appearance of stretch marks. Rapid growth can happen for a variety of reasons.
Let’s put this simply: the more weight you gain and the faster you gain it, the more likely you are to get stretch marks. Weight gain stretch marks are most common on the abdomen, thighs, breasts, and buttocks of obese individuals.
While puberty usually starts at 8 and 13 for girls, and 9 and 15 for boys, it can actually take up to 20 years of age for all the bodily changes to take place. This happens in various stages and appears differently for each sex. For women, they may get stretch marks on their breasts, hips, thighs, and buttocks. Men may get larger muscles and develop stretch marks in those areas. Both sexes will go through height changes, and stretch marks may also result from that.
Apparently, up to 90% of women will get stretch marks during pregnancy. Additionally, women with a higher BMI and women who will gain more than 30 pounds during their pregnancy are more likely to develop stretch marks. Many women may also have a genetic predisposition to develop stretch marks during this time.
Bodybuilding as well as intense workouts that lead to rapid weight changes can cause stretch marks. When there is a rapid increase in muscle mass around the shoulder or arm area, or other parts of the body, deeper layers of the skin can tear. The result? Stretch marks may appear.
Different Stretch Mark Types & Their Appearance
There are a variety of different types of stretch marks, and each of them has its own skin healing process. The specific type and appearance of a stretch mark can inform us about its cause, but also indicate which treatment would be most effective for removing it.
Red and White Stretch Marks
There are two main classifications for stretch marks, new and mature. New stretch marks are typically red or pink and medically referred to as striae rubrae. Mature stretch marks are white. White stretch marks, or striae albae, are red stretch marks that have faded over time.
Red stretch marks appear as red due to the inflammation and blood circulation that is present because of the collagen fiber tearing in the dermis. As the wound or scar heals, the blood vessels narrow and the scar turns into a silvery-white color.
Pregnancy Stretch Marks
Pregnancy stretch marks, or striae gravidarum, are stretch marks that appear on the abdomen. They have three main stages.
The first stage is when the stretch mark first appears. The skin is red or pink, inflamed, thin, and flattened. It may appear at any time during the pregnancy.
Second, the stretch mark grows longer and widens, turning either red, pink, or purple. This stretch mark typically appears as the belly begins to stretch, in the final trimester of the pregnancy.
Lastly, a few months to a year after the pregnancy, the stretch mark will be mature. The colors will begin to fade, skin becomes depressed, puckered, and the marks may be irregular in shape.
The Role Of Collagen in Stretch Marks
Collagen is the major protein that creates the connective tissue of the skin. The body constantly synthesizes collagen. It uses collagen to repair skin, grow new skin, and keep skin both elastic and healthy.
When the skin tissues and cells are expanded beyond their normal capacity, the collagen fibers that are responsible for skin elasticity tear and the normal functions of the skin are altered. These structural alterations of the skin result in an inflammatory response and send increased blood flow to the area, creating pink, red, or purple-colored stretch marks.
Collagen and blood cells are dependent on one another. Collagen and elastin strengthen and improve blood flow, which in turn works to produce more collagen. Therefore, when stretch marks still have inflammation or blood flow, it is possible to increase the production of collagen. An increase in collagen and elastin promotes skin regeneration, improves, and prevents stretch mark appearance.
The Main Risk Factors For Stretch Marks
Smooth, glowing, natural, stretch-mark, and wrinkle-free skin is a result of good collagen production. Unfortunately, collagen loss is inescapable. However, when certain risk factors are avoided it is possible to maintain good collagen production and restore the skin.
As the body ages, its natural ability to create collagen decreases. Collagen loss can begin to occur and the collagen-making cells may start to slow as early as the late teens or early 20's, and then decrease about 1% each year thereafter.
There is a direct link between UV rays and collagen loss. One study found that once collagen was exposed to UV light, there was a significant decrease in collagen structure afterward. UV rays can also cause damage to the DNA of cells that produce collagen, as well as create free radicals that damage collagen directly.
Smoking and Alcohol
Certain lifestyle habits like smoking, alcohol, as well as stress and pollution, produce free radicals which break down collagen fibers. Stress also increases the hormone cortisol, which has been found to decrease collagen production. As collagen thins, the skin loses its ability to heal and becomes wrinkly and thin.
How To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks
To get rid of stretch marks, treatment must increase skin moisture, collagen, and elastin. There are many ways to do this. However, there are pros and cons to each.
Laser therapy and microdermabrasion are commonly used to stimulate, produce and tighten collagen and elastin fibers. For stretch marks and scars on darker skin tones, a combination of micro needling and glycolic acid peels have proven effective. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22151943/). Some treatments simply aim to fade stretch marks quickly, without necessarily removing them. Stretch-mark fading creams that work typically include ingredients like hyaluronic acid or retinol.
While these treatments typically achieve their aim at removing or fading stretch marks, they can be costly, might lead to scarring, and aren’t necessarily pregnancy-safe. Moreover, many women struggle with harsh chemical allergic reactions and rashes to these invasive procedures.
Because of the nature of stretch marks typically being pregnancy-related, many women are looking for safe-at-home alternative treatments. Below, I’m going to introduce you to clinically proven, effective, and safe stretch mark removal treatments that work. Get ready!
Proven At-Home Treatments That Remove Stretch Marks
Looking for a non-invasive, easy, safe, allergy-tested, and clinically proven method to remove stretch marks at home? I'm going to tell you my secret: try medical-grade silicone fusion patches!
Silicone fusion is a unique treatment method that utilizes occlusion, which is a microclimate created between skin and silicone. It stimulates collagen production, encourages hydration, and promotes healing, making the appearance of stretch marks blend into the surrounding skin, flatten and diminish.
Silicone Fusion™ technology locks in hydration and pulls moisture from deep within the skin’s layers to regulate collagen production, smooth uneven skin tone, and encourage healing.
Minimize the appearance of stretch marks by combining the benefits of Silicone Fusion™ technology with Clarasome, and Claraprep to prevent moisture loss and hydrate collagen, elastin, and lutein.
Ready to Start Your At-Home Stretch Mark Treatment?
All positive results with at-home stretch mark removal require a proven, tested, and safe skincare routine. Great skincare is more than a single noninvasive product – it needs a regimen of complementary products and a best practices routine.
Dermaclara Silicone Pads have been extensively tested for stretch marks and wrinkles on women of all ages and skin tones. The result? Overwhelming satisfaction with the ease, cost, and results. Interested in learning more? Shop Dermaclara Stretch Mark Removal Skincare Products HERE.