Many pregnant women in their third trimester wake up to discover that, seemingly from out of nowhere, red or purple lines have suddenly appeared on their stomach, hips or breasts.
Medically known as striae distensae, we know them as the dreaded “stretch marks.”
Although pregnancy may be a cause, mothers-to-be aren’t the only ones in danger of getting them. Stretch marks also show on people who rapidly lose a lot of weight, or gained it. Stretch marks may also occur in those who body build or on teens as their bodies change.
Stretch marks are genetic, too
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the middle layer of skin that allows it to stretch and bounce back to its original shape. However, when it is repeatedly stretched, it loses its elasticity and that’s when those marks happen.
It is said that 85-90 percent of women will get stretch marks and for those who don’t—well, lucky them!
Check if your mother has stretch marks because studies have shown a genetic connection. If she does, you will most likely get it too.
People have tried for years, mostly in vain, to remove what is perceived to be unsightly marks, so your best bet is prevention.
How to prevent them
1. First of all, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. The more hydrated you keep your skin, the more pliable it will stay, making it more receptive to going back to its original shape even after it is stretched.
2. Don’t go on crash diets to avoid rapidly losing weight. At the same time, refrain from gaining too much weight too fast. So, keep a healthy lifestyle, especially when it comes to food.
3. Detect marks at the early stages so they can be treated. If stretch marks have already started to show and they still appear red or purple, act fast. You can also try vitamin C, used simultaneously with glycolic acid or products containing retinoids, such as tretinoin (except pregnant or nursing mothers) as these are said to increase collagen production.
Lasers don’t completely remove marks
Although the world of cosmetic medicine has come up with laser removal of these stretch marks, not everyone can afford the hefty price tags that come with these procedures.
Also, even if you can afford them, don’t expect to be completely mark-free after your treatments.
Many over-the-counter creams and oils have also promised time and time again to remove these unsightly lines, but you will be hard-pressed to find one that will actually erase them completely.
Will fade over time
If you feel that these treatments don’t work for you, you can opt to use self-tanners when going to the beach, which is the only time people will see your stretch marks anyway. Sunless tanners even out skin tone and hide stretch marks temporarily.
You can also go the make-up route with heavy-duty concealer.
At the end of the day, don’t fret too much. Stretch marks fade over time, and eventually, will be noticeable only to you.
Have a fashion or beauty question for Erica? Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Erica Paredes has been working in the publishing industry for almost a decade as a fashion and beauty editor, newspaper columnist, stylist and make-up artist. Nowadays she juggles her time between food and fashion, beauty and travel plus mommy duties to her 8 year old daughter.
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