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Stretch marks: they are absolutely normal to have but we love to hate them. Stretch marks, also called striae distensae, are caused when there is rapid growth in your body that rapidly stretches your skin. While stretch marks are completely harmless, they can take a toll on a person’s mental health. Though you will never be rid of them completely, you can take steps to make them less visible. But first, let’s get into what they are and what causes them.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks can be caused by pregnancy, growth spurts, rapid weight gain, or even from building muscle in the gym. The sudden skin change causes the collagen and elastin (which holds your skin together) to tear. When your skin returns to its normal state (i.e stops growing), it is no longer supported by the same collagen and elastin. As your skin is healing from the tear, stretch marks are formed.
Stretch marks aren’t just caused by weight gain or weight loss either. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, there are medical conditions that cause stretch marks: Marfan syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome.
According to Penn Medicine, Marfan syndrome is an inherited disorder that affects connective tissues. People with Marfan syndrome often develop stretch marks because the tissue in their skin is weakened and the skin is not as elastic as it should be.
Cushing’s syndrome happens when you have an excess of the hormone cortisol. Though the American Association of Neurological Surgeons states this disease is rare, purple stretch marks, among other things, are symptoms of Cushing’s.
What Do the Colors of Your Stretch Marks Mean?
When stretch marks first appear they can be purple, pink, reddish-brown, or dark brown depending on your skin color. This is because there is a higher presence of blood vessels under the newly torn skin.
All of these colors just mean you have new stretch marks and this is the best time to start treating them. Over time, if not treated, they will fade to white mature stretch marks that slowly sink beneath the surface of the skin.
How To Make Purple Stretch Marks Fade
Here are some options you have to help make your purple stretch marks fade, from DIY to treatments done by a medical provider. Just remember, there are no quick-fix treatment options to permanently remove stretch marks and the AAD states that home treatments have very little effect on mature stretch marks. At best, you can help with the appearance of stretch marks with consistent treatment over time.
With that being said, here are the options you have!
1. Retinoid Creams
Retinol and Tretinoin are two types of retinoid creams that have been proven to make stretch marks less noticeable when applied early.
Retinol boosts the elastin and collagen production to help produce new skin. Retinols can take on the form of topical creams and can be purchased in many over-the-counter products while tretinoin is only available by prescription.
Using a type of retinoid cream (in the form of topical treatments) will be the best affordable “fix” you are going to find outside of laser therapy.
Hyaluronic acid, while not a retinoid, can help with appearances as well if applied as soon as you see a stretch mark forming. The moisture that hyaluronic acid offers can hydrate and plump your skin, potentially making a stretch mark less noticeable.
The Hype: 4.3/5 “This is definitely a body lotion that deserves more hype than it’s getting! I have only used this for a few days now and can honestly say it’s also outperforming high-end!”
2. Laser Treatments
ICON 1540 is the only FDA-approved laser treatment for the appearance of stretch marks. Studies done by the National Library of Medicine show at the week one follow-up, 38% of subjects showed 25-75% improvement in their stretch marks. And the six-week follow-up showed an even higher percentage of improvement.
The ICON 1540 can be performed on any skin tone with white or purple stretch marks. Patients will start seeing significant results from laser therapy at three months but can take up to six months to achieve maximum results.
Though this is a treatment that may actually work, it does come with its drawbacks. One treatment could cost you anywhere from $2,000-$3,800 with multiple sessions required.
Though laser treatments may not be for everyone, there are some home remedies that may potentially help prove the appearance.
3. Apply Self-Tanner
Lying in a tanning bed or outside in the sun will not help you get rid of your stretch marks. Not only can this be bad for your skin, but it will just make them more noticeable because stretch marks do not tan.
However, applying self-tanner does have the ability to blur imperfections. This remedy is just temporary, but it’s a quick and easy way to give yourself a self-esteem boost. Self-tanner is an excellent option to hide your stretch marks!
The Hype: 4.3/5 “This self-tanner is AMAZING! It works incredibly well, and FAST! Which is amazing because you are able to quickly see spots missed. It leaves a natural color and can be built up over a couple of days.”
Related: 6 Best Facial Treatments for Large Pores That Will Reduce Their Appearance
4. Keep Your Skin Soothed and Moisturized
Keeping your skin supple and moisturized can potentially help prevent stretch marks (though it’s genetics in the end) and improve the appearance of existing ones.
From improving stretch marks to fading hyperpigmentation left over from acne, there are some natural ingredients that are recommended again and again. These are cocoa butter, aloe vera, olive oil, vitamin e, and almond oil.
It’s best to massage the treatments onto your affected areas. This will help make sure the treatment will actually touch the stretch marks and it might make it more effective too.
And of course, you need to be diligent in applying the products. You will never see results if you sporadically apply with no consistency. Even though results will take a while, you have more of a chance if you are consistently applying the treatment.
Though none of those are supported by any current research to get rid of stretch marks, they won’t harm you. Plus, they do have many other benefits for keeping your skin smooth, even, and glowy!
The Hype: 4.3/5 “This stuff is magic in a bottle, just try it!”
5. Exfoliate Your Skin
A chemical or physical exfoliation gives you benefits that will leave your skin smoother and softer over time. Plus, removing dry skin and dead skin cells can make your retinol products even more effective when applied.
To get a physical exfoliation, try dry brushing. And to chemically exfoliate, look for products with glycolic acid.
The Hype: 4.4/5 “This product has greatly improved the texture of my skin. Have been using it to improve even my skin tone on my arms and legs. It moisturizes very well.”
6. Apply Silicone Patches
Many dermatologists recommend silicone for the treatment of scars and stretch marks. And for an “apply and forget it approach”, consider using silicone patches. The National Library of Medicine states that a silicone patch can increase hydration and make marks softer and flatter.
If consistently applied for months, you may notice an improvement in new and old stretch marks.
The Hype: 4.3/5 “I bought these for old stretch marks. They do stay in place really well. I know they won’t completely erase the stretch marks but it does seem like they have lightened them overall.”
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), stretch marks are a type of scar and scars are permanent. You can do treatments that will fade them over time, but you will never fully get rid of them. And while nothing will fully remove your stretch marks, you can use these tips to help them fade.
And always remember, stretch marks are 100% normal. But if you are having a hard time accepting them, I would suggest contacting your dermatologist to see what options they have available for you.
Thankfully, there’s one treatment you can do for glowing skin that’s way easier than you think. You just need two things: heat and clean water. Up Next: 5 Benefits of Facial Steaming and How It Can Give You Glowing Skin