STRETCH MARKS: WHAT ARE THEY AND WHAT CAUSES THEM
Stretch marks, also known as striae, striae distensae (SD), striae atrophicans, and striae gravidarum are lines on the skin, caused when the skin is over-stretched due to sudden weight gain and or weight loss, and puberty. Stretch marks are fairly common for everyone, but can be more prevalent in women especially after pregnancy when the belly substantially increases in mass and decreases when the woman gives birth, thus causing stretch marks or the points of which the skin was stretched in order to accommodate the body.
Stretch marks do not only appear after pregnancy, they can also be found commonly under the arms, belly, abdomen, lower back, buttocks, thighs and chest.
TYPES OF STRETCH MARKS
Though stretch marks can look typically the same and appear more or less for the same reasons mentioned above, there are subtle differences between them:
- Striae atrophica - one of the most common types of stretch marks, breakdown of elastin or collagen components on the skin when it is rapidly stretched.
- Striae gravidarum - stretch marks that you get commonly during pregnancy
- Striae distensae - Stretch marks that occur during puberty due to the sudden growth of the body, and are typically stripe-like linear lines.
- Vergetures - long, sometimes thicker stretch marks than can resemble the mark of a whip lashing.
TREATMENTS FOR STRETCH MARKS
One of the most effective ways to treat stretch marks is through scar-camouflage or micropigmentation.
SCAR CAMOUFLAGE OR PARAMEDICAL MICROPIGMENTATION
Scar camouflage or Paramedical Micropigmentation is the process of embedding pigments under the skin using a specialized device to lighten or lessen the visibility of scars, or in this case, stretch marks. This procedure is typically done for people with scars, but can also be done for stretch marks. The process involves embedding pigments into the epidermal layer of the skin and matching the color with the individual’s skin tone.
The difference between scar camouflage and tattooing is that scar camouflage uses fine micro-needles that imbed at a much more shallow part of the skin, and is done with specialized pigments for this particular procedure. Scar camouflage also involves at least 2 treatments and can also fade, which is why it is recommended to have a retouch between 6 to 8 weeks to make sure that it has fully healed.
OTHER TREATMENTS FOR STRETCH MARKS
- Lotions, oils and exfoliants - you can rub lotions, oils and exfoliants on your stretch marks such as coconut oil, aloe vera, and even specialized stretch mark removal creams.
- Acid peel - this is the application of a specialized acid that removes the top layer of the skin and can help remove or lighten stretch marks
- Microdermabrasion - this is the process of removing stretch marks using an exfoliation method that increases the production of collagen
- Laser resurfacing therapy - a treatment done by dermatologists to remove scar tissue and stimulate the skin to repair itself and increase blood flow, using a skin-safe lazer.