Stretch marks are a common condition with about 50% to 90% of people having them. Medically known as striae, stretch marks are a form of scars that look like lines or streaks and have a different texture from the surrounding skin. They look reddish or purplish at first and turn lighter or silvery over time.
If you have stretch marks and are looking to fade or treat them, arming yourself with extra information can help. Continue reading as we explore these lines and streaks by answering the 10 most common questions about stretch marks.
1. Why do stretch marks form?
Stretch marks form due to the rapid pulling of the skin. This causes the collagen and elastin fibers to break and rupture, leaving scars in the form of stretch marks. Some of the things that can increase your chances of having them inclurdde:
- Being pregnant
- Growth spurts at puberty
- Gaining or losing weight rapidly
- Having a family history of stretch marks
- Using corticosteroids for too long
- Having genetic disorders, such as Marfan or Cushing’s syndrome
2. Where do stretch marks appear on the body?
While these lines and streaks can show up almost anywhere on the body, they occur where fat is usually stored. The belly or abdomen is the most common location, along with the lower back, hips, thighs, upper arms, and breasts.
You may also see stretch marks appear in areas that have experienced rapid or too much stretching. These can include the chest and shoulders, particularly for those who exercise with weights and build more muscle mass quickly.
3. What’s the difference between stretch marks and cellulite?
Both cellulite and stretch marks are more common in women than in men. Cellulite causes the skin to look dimpled or lumpy, which is why it is also referred to as orange-peel skin or cottage cheese skin. It usually occurs on the hips, buttocks, and thighs.
Stretch marks, on the other hand, appear as bands, lines, or streaks that can be slightly raised or indented. They are sometimes referred to as love lines, tiger stripes, or angel scratches, mainly because they commonly appear during and after pregnancy. They usually occur on the abdomen, as well as upper arms, buttocks, and thighs.
For further reading:Cellulite vs Stretch Marks: What’s the Difference?
4. What are the different colors of stretch marks?
Stretch marks may differ in color depending on how new or old they are, as well as their depth and location.
- Red, purple, dark brown – New stretch marks appear red, purple, or reddish brown (dark brown), depending on the color of your skin. This is due to the stretching of the skin surface that also allows the blood vessels to show through. New marks can also be itchy and feel slightly raised.
- White or silvery – As your stretch marks heal, they fade and become light pink, white, or silver in color. The fading process will continue, and your stretch marks may become less noticeable over time. Old or mature stretch marks feel slightly indented with a texture different from the rest of the skin.
5. What do itchy stretch marks mean?
Itchy stretch marks can mean that they are developing or your skin is healing. As these lines and streaks cause little tears in the dermis, the body starts to repair them, with the healing process causing an itching sensation. Having dry skin can also worsen the itchiness. Try not to scratch your stretch marks; apply a moisturizer or cream with soothing properties.
6. Does drinking water help with stretch marks?
While water is healthy and provides a lot of benefits for the body, it does not do so much for stretch marks. There is no correlation between drinking H2O and preventing stretch marks. What water does is keep your body hydrated and may help improve the appearance of the skin.
7. Why do some pregnant women get stretch marks and others don’t?
Your genetics play a big role in determining your vulnerability to developing stretch marks. If your mother, for instance, had stretch marks while pregnant, you are likely to have them in the future. If she, however, had smooth and stretch marks-free skin, you are likely to share the same fate.
Rapid weight gain during pregnancy can also increase your risk, as well as having stretch marks during puberty. Being a young mother and having a large baby or twins can also make you vulnerable to stretch marks.
For further reading:Stretch Marks: Why Do Some Women Get Them and Others Don’t?
8. Do stretch marks go away completely?
The thing with stretch marks is that they are permanent and won’t go away completely. They, however, become less noticeable over time and may even fade in the following months or years. It is important to keep your skin moisturized to relieve dry skin and itchiness, which can make stretch marks more noticeable.
9. Is there a way to prevent stretch marks?
Take note: Nothing guarantees you won’t get stretch marks. A positive and healthy approach to your diet and lifestyle, however, can help reduce your risk.
Here are a few things that can help:
- Maintain a healthy weight or control your weight.
- Stay hydrated. Choose water instead of sugary or caffeinated drinks.
- Fill your diets with nutrient-rich foods (zinc, protein, and vitamins A, C, and D)
- Exercise daily.
- Get treatment when stretch marks appear.
10. How can you make stretch marks noticeable?
There are a few things you can do to make these lines and streaks less visible. These include:
- Using a sunless self-tanner can help camouflage or cover up stretch marks. Just do take note that this is not a permanent solution; it can only be used to temporarily conceal cellulite and stretch marks. Make sure to avoid sun tanning or using tanning beds, as it can damage the skin and negatively affect its elasticity.
- Wearing bathing suits with more coverage can hide stretch marks on the upper thighs, buttocks, and chest.
- Using leg and body makeup can also help cover stretch marks. There are formulas specifically designed to cover tattoos, stretch marks, and other blemishes on the body while also offering SPF. But then again, this is only a temporary solution.
Several creams, gels, and lotions claim to fade or get rid of stretch marks, but they don’t actually work and are costly. This is why in most cases, the right thing to do is to wait and be patient, as these lines and streaks fade over time. If you, however, are bothered by the way they look, ask your doctor for safe and effective treatments.
11. What are the available treatments for stretch marks?
At Cutis, we have acoustic shockwave therapy, which is a non-invasive treatment that can reduce the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite. It also helps with collagen regeneration to gradually firm and tighten the skin.
In our clinic, we have two devices/treatments that use acoustic shockwave: X-Wave and ZWave:
- X-Wave – uses specially modified acoustic wave pulses that induce vibrations in the connective tissue. It helps stimulate the body’s natural collagen production to improve your skin texture, including the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite.
- ZWave – delivers radial shockwaves into the area of concern. It helps destabilize fat structures and breaks down the connective tissues that cause cellulite. ZWave also helps boost blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, and collagen formation.
Multiple sessions are needed to see an improvement in the elasticity and firmness of the skin. And as you undergo more acoustic wave treatments, the results will continue to improve. It is also worth noting that you can combine this treatment with fat freezing and similar procedures to help with fat reduction and sculpting your figure.
Schedule a consultation and body assessment
If your stretch marks are making you self-conscious, non-invasive treatments such as acoustic shockwave therapy can help make a difference. Being patient does too, along with healthy lifestyle habits, as stretch marks tend to fade or become less noticeable over time.
Contact Cutis Medical Laser Clinics and book a consultation and body assessment with our aesthetic doctor in Singapore to find out if it is right for you.