All You Need To Know About Stretch-Marks and How To Get Rid of Them
I don’t think it’s a stretch (pun intended) to say that stretch marks are on most people’s list of “most annoying/frustrating skincare problems”.
Especially since almost all of us, women and men, will deal with them at some point in our lives. Look, don’t shoot the messenger, ok?
So let’s get into it! Below we’ve compiled everything you need to know about stretch-marks -
and then some!
What they are, what causes them, how they’re treated, how they’re prevented, and what you should do (or not do) about them…
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1. STRETCH MARKS: WHAT ARE THEY?
So basically, stretch marks are scars - in this case though, they have formed from the inside out. Unfortunately for us, stretch marks are one of the hardest skincare problems to treat.
They can make us feel super uncomfortable and self conscious, and on top of that, there are no cosmetic products or methods that make a huge difference in the way they look.
There are methods, however, to try and prevent them, as well as reduce their appearance slightly - but, there’s no sure-fire way to get ride of them completely…
Our skin is made up of 3 layers:
The Epidermis (outer layer)
The Dermis (middle layer)
The Subcutaneous or Hypodermic (deepest layer)
Stretch marks form in the middle layer, (aka the Dermis) when the connecting tissue gets stretched beyond it’s power of flexibility caused by a rapid contraction or expansion of the skin.
OK, SO WHAT CAUSES THEM?…:
As most of us may already know, the #1 cause of stretch marks is pregnancy.
Some other causes could be: rapid or sudden weight loss/gain, rapid growth during puberty, hereditary genes/genetic tendency, various changes in physical conditions, and stress of the skin. All of these will have varying levels of severity as well.
They have even been found to form as a result of having an increased level of cortisone in your body. Cortisone is a naturally produced hormone that forms in your adrenal glands, but having a high level of it in your system can cause your skin to lose some of its’ elasticity.
This means that corticosteroid creams, pills and lotions, could potentially cause stretch marks as they decrease your skins’ ability to stretch.
Any abnormal stretching will cause the skin’s collagen and elastin support system to break down/diminish, and the skin’s normal cell production cycle becomes damaged and interrupted.
Ultimately, this results in some fine scars in your dermis (bonus points if you remembered that’s your middle layer of skin…).
The bad news is stretch marks are known to be hereditary, so odds are that if your Mom or Dad have stretch marks - you probably will too.
WHO IS AT RISK?:
Really, Anyone can be at risk for stretch marks, but there are some factors that can increase the likelihood that you’ll get them in your lifetime. Those are:
- - Being female
- - Having a personal or family history of stretch marks
- - Being pregnant, especially for younger women
- - Being overweight or obese
- - Rapidly gaining or losing weight
- - Using corticosteroid medication
- - Undergoing breast enlargement surgery
- - Having Cushing's syndrome, Marfan syndrome or certain other genetic disorders
The group with the highest risk of developing stretch marks, is obviously pregnant women.
Then as mentioned, anyone who is rapidly losing or gaining weight, followed by teens who experience rapid growth during puberty (this can be height, or for girls it could be rapid breast development/body changes).
People with conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Dalos syndrome - and any other conditions or disorders affecting the adrenal gland - may see heightened cortisone levels in their body, and this could increase their risk of stretch marks.
2. WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE:
You can have stretch marks almost anywhere on your body, but they’re most commonly found on your stomach, breasts, upper arms, thighs and buttocks.
When stretch marks first start to form, they typically appear as little parallel lines on your skin.
These lines can range in color from purple, to bright pink, to red and even light grey.
As time passes, thin, silver-ish lines appear on your skins’ surface and hence, a stretch mark is born. Here are the 3 phases you can expect:
Phase #1: New stretch marks appear pink in color, they might also feel itchy. The skin directly around the stretch marks can also appear thinned and flattened.
Phase #2: Gradually the stretch marks will grow in width and length and change from pink to a red or sometimes purple color.
Phase #3: When your stretch marks have matured, they will lose their color and begin to fade to silver or pale white. They can also look slightly depressed and have irregular shapes and lengths. When you run your finger over them they may feel like a different texture from your ‘normal’ skin, and can even feel indented or grooved.
You might notice that the ends of your stretch marks actually look visibly ‘curled’, this is actually election bands that have been broken. Elastin can be compared to the equivalent of rubber bands under your skin that helps give it that ‘spring’ it need to snap back into place.
HOW ARE THEY DIAGNOSED?:
Usually, stretch marks are diagnosed after a doctor does an examination of your skin and reviews your medical history. If your doctor sees an increase of cortisol production they may suggest further testing.
Given that stretch marks are pretty common, a lot of people immediately would recognize them by appearance. They are visually identifiable on inspection by doctors as well as patients.
Not all stretch marks look the same, they can vary depending on several things; what caused them, how long they’ve been there, where they are on your body, and what your skin type is. Some common variations are:
Streak or lines in the skin that feel indented
Red, pink, blue or purple streaks
Dark streaks that eventually fade to a lighter color
Lines on the stomach, breasts, hips, thighs or buttocks
Streaks covering large areas on your body
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR:
You should see your doctor if you’re worried about the appearance of your stretch marks, if they are starting to cover large areas of your body, or if they are painful and/or itchy. Your doctor will be able to determine their cause and talk to you about treatment options available to you.
4. WHAT TO DO IF THEY BECOME UNCOMFORTABLE:
It isn’t uncommon for people to experience a burning or itching sensation along with your stretch marks, especially when they are first developing. This is when your home remedies or prescribed/over-the-counter lotions and creams may REALLY come in handy.
Stretched skin is usually very dry and this is why it itches and burns, so your best bet would be to get yourself a moisturizer that works well (absorbs well!) for your skin and use it constantly. For the natural route, cocoa and shea butter are your top contenders as they have deep moisturizing qualities.
To get the most out of a moisturizer, natural or not, try to avoid hot baths or showers, and apply your moisturizer when your skin is still damp! You might even want to keep your moisturizer in your fridge. Studies have shown that cooling your lotion can give you even better results.
Always double check the ingredients of the products you are using on your skin, and try to avoid anything with alcohol. You should avoid swimming in chlorinated water, especially public pools where high levels of chlorine are added to kill any potential germs and bacteria.
If you live in a dry area, or it is generally dry in your home; you may want to consider getting an air humidifier.
Most importantly though, is try not to scratch them! This will only irritate your skin. Consider trimming your nails short and take good care of your hands, sensitive skin is less likely to be damaged/break if your nails are short.
5. HOW CAN I PREVENT THEM?:
There is no “sure-fire” way to prevent stretch marks, even if you stay hydrated and moisturized regularly. That being said, there are pre-emptive measures you can take, like keeping your weight in a healthy range.
Eat well, exercise regularly and practice healthy living, as this can help avoid stretch marks cause by rapid weight gain or loss.
Even though it is healthy and normal for you to gain weight while pregnant, you should still ask your doctor exactly how much weight gain would be ‘normal’ for you.
The best way to prevent yourself from ever getting stretch marks is to maintain a healthy and stable weight, and to keep yourself and your skin moisturized.
Drink the recommended amount of water every day (8 glasses), and moisturize several times daily - this way you can minimize the pain even if you do get them.
Keep in mind that some people are predisposed to getting them, so if your family members (male or female) have them, you have more of a chance of developing them yourself.
Since stretch marks are most common in women that are (or were) pregnant, here are some more specific prevention methods to implement during and after pregnancy. But you should also note that any/all of these preventative measures are beneficial for anyone who is at risk of getting stretch marls:
Prevention During Pregnancy
Stretch marks development during pregnancy is a totally normal and common reaction from your skin around your abdomen being stretched out to accommodate your baby belly. The god news is, it IS possible to reduce and prevent them if you start early-on in your pregnancy. The most important things are lifestyle changes, skin care routine, and maintaining these once your baby is born.
1. A skin-nourishing diet
You’re probably already eating well to make sure that your baby is getting all the proper vitamins and nutrients, but try to incorporate more foods that benefit your skin health - and can improve your skins’ elasticity. Here is a helpful list of the best foods for your skin:
fresh fruits and vegetables
HIGH VITAMIN E:
HIGH VITAMIN A:
red bell peppers
HIGH OMEGA 3 CONTENT:
2. Keep hydrated
Water detoxify’s your body! It keeps those skin cells healthy, and more likely to be able to ‘bounce back’ from any stretching during pregnancy.
- Try to drink 8 glasses of water a day!
- Acquire a large water bottle that holds about 2 glasses (16 ounces) and take it with you everywhere!
- Refill your bottle 4 times a day instead of refilling one glass 8 times.
- Drink herbal teas!
- Choose teas without caffeine as caffeine dehydrates you.
- Watery/juicy fruits and vegetables!
- Salads with cucumber, bell peppers, and celery!
- Choose fruits like watermelon, strawberries, and honeydew melon.
SKIN CARE DURING PREGNANCY:
Dry-brushing can help improve your skins’ circulation and keep it fresh and healthy. It is highly recommended as a method of reducing the severity of stretch marks that have already formed - it could also be done as a preventative technique.
Make sure your dry-brush is made with natural fibres; and the bristles should be stiff, but not so tough that they could cut you.
Begin at the bottom of your legs and brush the skin in upward motions towards the heart. Make sure to focus on areas where stretch marks are more likely to appear, like your buttocks and abdomen.
When finished, take a lukewarm shower to wash off any dead skin cells. Avoid dry-brushing your breasts, your skin is more likely to be damaged in that area as it is more sensitive.
2. No harsh chemicals!
So many commercial body washes and moisturizers contain harmful sulphates, these can dry out your skin and reduce its elasticity. Make sure you go for the cleansers/moisturizers with natural oils and ingredients that will actually hydrate your skin!
Coconut oil is a good all-natural option. Use it all over your skin, rinse gently with warm water, and pat yourself dry with a soft towel. It might not even be necessary for you to use cleansers on your skin, especially if it is prone to being very dry - you can simply wash with warm water.
I will repeat this one over, and over again.. because it is so very important. Moisturize your skin! Again, try to use all-natural products with natural oils that won’t strip your skin of its moisture. Moisturize all areas prone to stretch marks:
- Lower back
Basic moisturizers won’t penetrate your skin deep enough to keep it moisturized, so use naturals oils and lotions, specifically ones designed for pregnant women. Some good ideas are:
- Cocoa butter
- Kokum butter
- Almond oil
- Egg oil
- Shea butter
- Pure lanolin
Moisturize morning and night, and after anytime you bathe. If you are itchy in an area where stretch marks are prone to form, that’s a good sign to use more lotion there.
If you plan on going swimming or spending time in the sun, make sure you’re applying ample amounts of sunscreen! On your abdomen, sides, chest, buttocks, and any other areas at risk. Sun's rays are extremely harsh on your skin (Sun's rays after 10 AM), not to mention they dry you out - especially if you burn easily.
SOME AFTER PREGNANCY TIPS:
1. Don’t stop eating foods that are good for your skin!
keep eating all those fruits and vegetables, buts, fish, and avocados after your baby is born.
The window immediately after you give birth is very important in ensuring your skin will continue to get the vitamins and nutrients it needs to renew and restore itself from stretching.
Don’t go full tilt on a crazy weight-loss diet right after pregnancy, try to lose it more gradually just like you gained it.
This way your skin has more time to heal and tighten itself. Keep hydrating and drinking lots of water!
2. Treat your stretch marks!
In the case that you do end up with a few stretch marks (which can happen even when you take preventative measures), make sure to treat them while they’re new.
Use a stretch mark salve that contains glycol acid wherever your marks have appeared.
You may also benefit from prescription creams that contain retinoids - which should not be used when you’re pregnant or nursing - as they are known to help with your marks.
Using both glycol acid and retinoids at the same time will produce much better results than simply using them separately.
If none of these products or methods are working, you might want to consider laser treatment, microdermabrasion, or other medical treatments recommended by your doctor as they are also an effective option.
You may even want to consider tinted moisturizers than can help your stretch marks blend in with your normal skin tone while keeping you moisturized.
Prevention Stretch Marks During Puberty
Stretch marks are most commonly associated with pregnancy and pregnant women, but in reality, anyone can get them - especially anyone going through puberty.
During puberty, your hormones are going crazy… they can cause a variety of changes to you physically.
They can change your skin, and make you gain weight, which could result in stretch marks on your breasts, stomach, hips, thighs, and arms.
Lifestyle habits to prevent stretch marks during puberty.
1. Again, I will say it… moisturize!
Keep your skin moisturized and keep drinking that water!
Stretch marks usually happen when your skins’ collagen breaks down, which means the connective tissues are weak.
Staying hydrated and moisturized helps to rebuild your skin’s collagen and make you skin less likely to stretch.
2. Try using richer moisturizers such as cocoa or shea butter - natural oils are good too.
Other options could be products with collagen and elastin that boost their moisturizing effects.
Consider using stretch mark creams. These creams have higher amounts of moisture-rich ingredients such as cocoa butter, vitamin E, and glycol acid.
Some products also contain things like retinol or caffeine which can be very effective, even just temporarily.
3. Stay out of the sun.
A lot of teens seem to think that tanning can make stretch marks less visible - but this simply isn’t the case.
Tanning beds actually stretch marks more visible as they usually don’t tan. They will appear lighter than the rest of your skin.
Not to mention that tanning is just not good for you in general, and can cause even bigger problems like skin cancer.
If anything, use a self-tanning lotion instead.
4. Maintaining your weight is also key. As mentioned, rapid weight loss or gain is the leading cause of stretch marks.
Exercise and a healthy diet are very important, and there are plenty of tools available to you online to help you figure out your target body weight.
Make sure you’re getting exercise daily, this will help your skin retain its elasticity by improving your circulation. Teenagers should aim to do about an hour of physical activity a day.
As long as you’re keeping your body moving, this will aid in maintaining your weight. A good time do this, would obviously be; gym class! Try your best to participate as much as you can during this time.
5. Eating a balanced diet and exercise regularly to prevent stretch marks.
This will help improve your skin’s overall quality and appearance.
Stay away from junk food! High fat or sugary diets slow down cell turnover which can cause you to gain weight, and can cause your skin’s quality to worsen.
Don’t eat too many friend foods or sweets at the cafeteria! Some foods for though:
-> Raspberries & Carrots: these foods are high in vitamin A as well as beta-carotene.
-> Yellow & Orange fruits and vegetables: these foods along with lots of water help increase cell reproduction and help to keep your skin hydrated and less prone to strict marks!
6. CAN STRETCH MARKS BE REMOVED?
As previously stated, there is no “cure” for stretch marks as they are basically scars.
However, every person and every person’s skin is different. Depending on your skin and how receptive you are to treatments, you may or may not be able to remove them completely.
For some people, they might fade away to nothing over the years, while others might try every method under the sun to remove them - with no luck.
It all depends on your skin, how well you’re following your regime, and how receptive your body is.
We’ve already talked about some medicated and prescribed stretch mark removal creams, so let’s now get into some cheap and natural home remedies that have also proven to be effective:
NATURAL HOME REMEDIES:
There are countless methods, procedures and products that make promises to “get rid” of stretch marks, but nothing has been proven 100% effective thus far.
However, as an alternative to medical and prescribed methods, there also exists various natural home remedies for stretch marks that have had reported success in minimizing their appearance.
It’s pretty hard to accurately gauge the effectiveness of natural stretch mark remedies. A wide array of products exist on the market that make a claim to reduce and/or remove stretch marks altogether; but there is very little actual proof to support these claims.
Generally, those products are most effective when they’re used on newly formed marks, and even then, some natural remedies/products have been known to help stretch marks to fade faster than expensive creams and treatments.
1. Castor Oil
Castor oils are used in the treatment of numerous skin problems such as wrinkles, fine lines, pimples, acne scars, age spots, and dark spots; but it also works quite well on stretch marks.
Simply apply some castor oil to your stretch marks and gently massage it in a circular motion for about 5-10 minutes. You can even wrap the area of application with a thin cotton cloth, and with a hot water bottle or heating pad, apply some heat to the area for at least half an hour. Repeat every day for about a month.
2. Aloe Vera
I’m sure you’ve heard of aloe vera being used in the treatment of sunburns, right? Well surprise surprise, it’s not just for when your dad has two mojitos and falls asleep at the resort pool… its’ healing and soothing properties can be an effective treatment for various skin problems. There are a few ways you can apply it:
- Directly rub the aloe vera (plant juice or gel) to the affected area, leave it for about 15 minutes, then rinse off in the sink with warm water.
- Make a mixture with 1/4 cup aloe vera gel (or juice), the oil squeezed out of 10 vitamin E capsules, and the oil squeezed from 5 vitamins A capsules. Rub into affected area until completely absorbed, and repeat this process daily.
3. Egg Whites
Eggs are an amazing source of protein as we all know, but for stretch marks, you should only use the whites since they’re super high in protein and rich amino acids.
Whip egg whites from two eggs gently, with a fork. Make sure to clean your skin in the affected area, then apply a thick layer of the egg whites with a makeup brush (or your clean hand if you don’t have one).
Let the egg whites dry completely till they almost feel like paper mache, then rinse them off with cold water. Apply some olive oil onto the area to lock in moisture, and repeat this for at least two weeks for positive results.
4. Lemon Juice
Another really simple method to diminish stretch marks is lemon juice. Lemons are naturally acidic, and this acidity helps to heal and reduce stretch marks and scars, such as acne scars.
Gently rub your fresh lemon juice onto the stretch marks in a circular motion. Give the juice time to soak into your skin, at least 10 minutes, before you rinse if off with warm water. Another good option would be to combine equal parts cucumber juice and lemon juice and apply in the same way.
We’ve all heard of “sugar scrubs”, right? Well, they work surprisingly well in reducing stretch marks too. Natural everyday white sugar is known as one of the best natural solutions to getting rid of them, using the sugar to exfoliate your skin.
Simply mix 1 tablespoon of raw sugar with a little bit of almond oil and a few drops of lemon juice. Mix it pretty well and apply it directly to your stretch marks and other problem areas.
Rub mixture gently on your skin for several minutes every day prior to taking your shower. If you do this for a month or so, you will notice your stretch marks start to appear lighter.
6. Potato Juice
I know, sounds weird right? You’ve heard of ‘tomato’ juice…but ‘potato’ juice?! Well, what you might not know is that potato juice contains many vitamins and minerals that aid in the growth and restoration of skin cells!
Here’s how you do it; cut a thick slice of potato and gently rub it on your stretch marks for a few minutes, making sure that the starch from the potato (or the ‘potato juice’) is completely covering the area.
Allow it to dry and soak into the skin, then since off with lukewarm water.
7. Olive Oil
Using olive oil on your skin during pregnancy is a great way to prevent the development of stretch marks. Olive oil contains lots of vitamin E which helps restore skin cells, it will also moisturize and soften your skin so it can expand easily - making it more difficult for stretch marks to form.
8. Cocoa or Shea Butter
Cocoa and shea butter are intense moisturizers, massaging either of them into your skin a few times a day can reduce your risk of getting stretch marks, or make existing ones fade. Also, if you use them regularly while you’re pregnant, you can reduce your risk of even getting them in the first place.
9. Apricot Mask
Mash up a few apricots (they can be very small so depending on how much you need to completely cover your marks), and apply the mush to your marks; let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Repeat frequently!
Many women swear by a mixture of turmeric with some water or oil to create a thick paste, then applying it to your stretch marks twice a day to help them disappear. Keep in mind thought that Turmeric has a high pigmentation and can ‘dye’ your skin for several hours, so only apply this to areas that won’t be visible if you plan to go out or be in public! You’ve been warned.
No - not the kid from “Little Rascals”, the plant! You can find alfalfa powder in most health food stores and when combined with chamomile oil it makes an amazing paste that can be applied to your stretch marks to “tone” the skin.
12. Derma Roller
Ok, so this one can’t just be found in your kitchen…however, derma rollers can be easily found at most pharmacies, inexpensive and all natural. No need for expensive or questionable creams and lotions, it is said that rolling this over your stretch mark scars can help improve their appearance and even diminish them.
13. Self Tanning Lotion
Yes - self-tanner lotions aren’t always “all natural”,but you can find some that are; and also you can usually some form of self-tanner lying around your house. If not, you can easily acquire some (natural or not) from your local pharmacy or health food store.
Using self-tanner on your stretch is an effective way to temporarily minimize the appearance as it dimities the difference in colour between your normal skin and your stretch marks.
Don’t think that using a tanning bed will have the same effect though - stretch marks are much harder, like any scar, and can become even more visible. On top of that, tanning beds are likely to do more harm than good to your skin anyways - not to mention dry you out, which is the opposite of what your skin needs.
*we are preparing an infographic for this part
…WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS:
If absolutely nothing is working for you, and you’re really self-conscious about your marks - go the makeup route. Find a body makeup (with the help of a beauty consultant or aesthetician) that matches your skin tone and apply it to the affected area. Body makeup is usually quite thick and offers great coverage as it is often used for covering tattoos for film and television; it should easily cover up your marks.
THE BEST MEDICAL TREATMENTS FOR STRETCH MARKS
Luckily, stretch marks have been known to fade with some time; but if you don’t want to ‘wait it out’ there are some medical treatments that help diminish and improve their appearance.
It should be noted though, that no treatment can actually make stretch marks completely disappear…Of course, you should always consult your doctor or dermatologist before trying any form of treatment, even home remedies.
Note that your #1 concern in the avoidance of stretch marks should be staying HYDRATED & MOISTURIZED!
This is above all the most helpful piece of advice. The more hydrated and moisturized you are, the more elasticity your skin has, the less likely it is to pull due to rapid growth, and the more likely it is to ‘bounce back’ from any pulling. Moisturizing your skin can also help relieve the itchiness that often times comes along with stretch marks.
1. Tretinoin Cream (ex. Retin-A, Renova)
This cream restores collagen which is a fibre-rich protein and gives your skin back some of its elasticity. Best used on new stretch marks that are pink or red.
These creams may cause skin irritation for some people, and are not recommended for all. Please note that pregnant women should not use tretinoin cream.
2. Pulsed Dye Laser Therapy
This type of therapy aims to stimulate your skin's collagen and elastin and encourage them to grow.
Again, it is best to use this therapy with recent stretch marks, and it’s worth mentioning that darker-skinned individuals can experience some skin discoloration.
*Note: some doctors may be hesitant or unwilling to perform laser therapy on teens.
3. Fractional Photothermolysis
This therapy is somewhat similar to the pulsed dye therapy since it does use a laser, but how it works is it targets smaller areas on your skin and causes less overall damage.
With microdermabrasion, the skin is polished with tiny crystals to unveil the new skin that’s under the stretch marks. It can also improve the appearance of older stretch marks.
5. Chemical Peels
More commonly used on the face to get rid of wrinkles and age spots - chemical peels can be done on various areas of the body to treat stretch marks.
For a chemical peel treatment, a solution is applied on the affected area, the strength of the solution vary depending on the patient’s needs and what is being treated.
Essentially the chemicals peel the first few top layers of damaged and dead skin, stimulating new skin growth and cell production. Multiple treatments may be required to achieve optimal results.
This method will not remove stretch marks completely, but will instead aid in fading their appearance and leaving you with smoother, healthier skin.
6. Blue Light Therapy
Even though this type of therapy is more widely used to treat acne, blue light therapy can also be used to treat the appearance of stretch marks.
This treatment involves applying photosensitive gel to your skin which is then exposed to blue light energy. Although this treatment will not remove them either, patients will notice an improvement of their stretch marks - especially new ones.
(*Medical procedures as well as prescription medications are not guaranteed to “cure” stretch marks, and they can also be quite expensive.)
Remember, the is no “cure”…
No one can make stretch marks completely go away without the help of a plastic surgeon and/or dermatologist.
They may use one, or even several types of treatments; from plastic surgery to microdermabrasion to laser therapy - to try and help you reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
These methods, however, are quite expensive, not guaranteed to work, and generally aren’t covered by insurance.
Doctors also don’t usually recommend these types of therapies for teens as they are still growing and run the risk of developing new marks, and the marks they have will probably fade over time.
7. EXERCISES FOR STRETCH MARKS!
When you exercise it helps your skin to keep its elasticity as it up’s your body’s circulation. Also, exercising will help prevent you from gaining too much weight at once - therefore causing stretch marks to appear.
Exercise is recommended to anyone and everyone who has, or may be at risk for stretch marks.
Unfortunately, exercise is not acknowledged by doctors and medical experts as a treatment for stretch marks.
However, it can help you control your body’s weight, and slow down the effects of stretch marks - some might notice less distinguished marks from exercise, and for others it won’t be affect them at all. As previously stated, it all depends on your body.
Here are some general exercises you can do to help in the prevention of stretch marks:
1. T-Pushups (for chest and core)
This will strengthen your core and chest muscles while also tightening up the skin on your chest for firm cleavage and less noticeable marks:
Start off slow in a normal pushup position where your hands are under your shoulders, and hold for a few seconds in plank. While you’re up, you can slowly twist your torso towards the ceiling and then raise one hand to the sky. Naturally, your ankles might come together. Hold this for a couple seconds, then roll back down to a normal push-up position and do 2 sets with 15 reps on each side.
2. Lateral Leg Circles (for hips and thighs)
This workout will help you tone and strengthen your leg muscles which can smooth out your skin while also smoothing out those stretch marks:
Start by kneeling on a mat with one knee on a balance ball. Raise your right leg straight out while slowly making small circular movements with the lifted leg. Do about 10 circles in a clockwise motion, and 10 circles counter-clockwise. After you’ve done 20 reps on one leg, switch over to the other. It’s imperative to try and not move your hips as your aim is to make your hip muscles stronger and firm up the muscle underneath the stretch marks.
3. Single-Leg Pelvic Thrusts (for buttocks and glutes)
These are great for any stretch marks on your butt:
Simply lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Extend your right leg out 3-4 inches off the floor with your foot flexed; lift your hips up and keep your upper back flat on the floor - hold for 3 seconds, then lower your hips back down. Repeat this for 10 reps twice on each side, then switch legs and repeat.
** Some exercises (like weight lifting), can often times cause stretch marks as the skin gets stretched to accommodate muscle growth.
EXERCISE WHILE PREGNANT:
You know how hard it is to move around and do daily tasks while pregnant, let alone exercising consistently. So here are some tips; choose a few exercises that you enjoy, and ones aimed at making pregnancy easier for you - and incorporate them into your daily routine! This could include:
- Kegel exercises
These are all low-impact exercises that are easy on your body, and will also make pregnancy easier on you.
Increase your exercise! After pregnancy, there are many more exercises available to you that aren’t as limiting. Try to exercise 4-5 times a week, and focus primarily on these areas:
- Strength training
- Building strong muscles to tighten up skin
- Hire a trainer to help you decide what exercises are best for you
Here is a video that may help!:
8. DIET AND NUTRITION FOR PREVENTING STRETCH MARKS:
Before we get into this, it should be noted that if you are pregnant - you should always consult your doctor first about your diet and nutrition!
But, here are some general tips and diet ideas for preventing stretch marks:
Go for foods high in collagen, vitamins A, C & E, and foods with high and balanced Omega 3:6:9 ratios. Keep in mind that true hydration happens on the inside, and full-body hydration is key in stretch mark prevention! Drink plenty of water, and cut out de-hydrating beverages such as; caffeine and sugar-heavy drinks.
Collagen is one of the primary components that makes up your skin. It strengthens blood vessels, cartilage, and connecting tissues while giving flexibility and resilience to your skin.
Collagen occurs naturally in the connective tissues of animals as well. So bone broth is one of the best things to ingest to reduce the likelihood of stretched skin.
This broth is very simple and easy to make, by slowly simmering the bones in water for a few hours with some added herbs.
The bones from grass-fed, free-range, organically raised animals are obviously your best choice - especially if you are pregnant since they contain no antibiotics or hormones.
Increasing your intake of healthy fats can also add elasticity to your skin, and help it appear healthy and glowing.
Some good choices would be cold-water fish (ie. salmon & herring), olive oil, real butter from grass-fed, organic cows, and coconut oil. Coconut oil is also an amazing moisturizer and is safe to use on your skin during pregnancy!
Vitamin A helps protects your skin and keep it healthy, while encouraging proper growth of new skin cells.
It can be food in a variety of food, more specifically, bright orange fruits and veggies like, carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe.
Other vitamin A rich food are pumpkin, apricots, mango, tuna, and leafy green veggies like spinach and kale.
Vitamin C plays a very important nutrient that plays a big role in the maintaining and protecting your skin cells.
It also aids your body in producing new, healthy cells. Incorporating vitamin C rich foods into your diet might help sustain the elasticity of your skin, which will lessen your chances of getting stretch marks.
Go for foods like grapefruit, oranges, berries, kiwi, bell peppers, melon and broccoli.
Incorporating vitamin E into your diet is a good way to keep your skin healthy, it’s essential for maintaining your skin and repairing any damage.
Vitamin E is also known to have antioxidants that protect your skin from environmental effects and free radicals.
Add more nuts, seeds, avocados, peanut butter, wheat germ, cooked tomatoes and oat bran to your diet.
Zinc stimulates the proper formation of collagen, which is the most vital element to healthy skin.
Since collagen holds your skin layers together, if you don’t have enough of it, you raise your risk of developing stretch marks.
Incorporate lean meats, raisins, beans, lentils, and bananas into your diet to get more zinc.
THE DO’S AND DONT’S OF STRETCH MARKS:
DON’T: Expect to completely eradicate 10 year old stretch marks, consider them battle scars and get over it. You must treat them early on, before they become silver. Without using surgical methods like plastic surgery, it’s very unlikely to see any reduction in their appearance.
DO: Have a conversation with your doctor about retinoids and dermabrasion. These treatments can be very successful if you’re treating stretch marks in the early stages.
DON’T: Try to tattoo over your stretch marks to hide them, unless you’re ok with the fact that your tattoo might not come out the way you want it too. Scarred skin is also a bit more sensitive as it is damaged, and ink retained there might appear different in color because of the discoloration of your marks.
DO: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink plenty of water and moisturize your skin. Care for it by using deep moisturizers like; cocoa/shea butter, aloe, and coconut oil. This won’t make them look much better, but it can prevent them looking worse. Not to mention this can alleviate any itchy or dry marks.
DON’T: Expect “home remedies” and expensive creams to get rid of your stretch marks, if they were guaranteed - no one would have stretch marks, ever. The trick is again, to take precautions in preventing them, and treating them while they’re new.
DO: Have realistic expectations. Without shelling out a fortune on expensive treatments with lasers and invasive methods, your stretch marks are here to stay. Again, treat them EARLY!
WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING:
—> “Top 10 Home Remedies.com”
“The skin consists of three main layers: Epidermis (the outer layer), Dermis (the middle layer) and Subcutaneous or Hypodermic (the deepest layer). Stretch marks form in the dermis or middle layer of the skin when the connective tissue is “stretched” beyond the power of its flexibility due to rapid expansion or contraction of the skin.”
To understand how stretch-marks form, and for tips on how to diminish their appearance quickly, visit:
—> “The Stir.Cafemom.com”
“While you may never get rid of your stretch marks completely, there are a few things you can try to at least reduce their appearance and make them less noticeable. And if you try some of these methods during your pregnancy as opposed to waiting until you deliver, you'll be one step ahead of the game.”
For any pre or post-pregnancy women looking for more tips on preventative and treatment methods, visit:
—> “NHS.uk” (National Health Service)
“Sometimes, particularly in teenage boys, stretch marks can develop on the back, overlying the spine horizontally (like the rungs on a ladder). Stretch marks caused by Cushing's syndrome (where the blood contains high levels of a hormone called cortisol, see below) tend to be wider and larger, and can also appear on the face.”
For more understanding of the various situations in which stretch marks can form, and a deeper explanation of cause and effects, visit:
—> “Draxe .com”
“The European Handbook of Dermatological Treatments explains that vitamin K is very beneficial in treating stretch marks. You can find vitamin k is foods such as dandelion greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, spring onions or scallions, kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts to name a few.”
Get even more diet and nutrition information for prevention and treatment of stretch marks, here:
—> “Web-MD .com”
“If your mother had stretch marks, then you're more likely to have them too, since genetics plays a role. If you have a lighter complexion, you will tend to develop pinkish stretch marks. Darker-skinned women tend to get stretch marks that are lighter than their skin tone.”
Read up on all the technical and medical facts of stretch marks, and visit:
—> “Psych Alive. org”
“When taking a fabulous shower, use a clean loofah or wash cloth to spread some oatmeal flakes onto your skin, especially the areas with stretch-marks. Scrub the oatmeal on the entire body, breaking in the oatmeal flakes as you go.”
For some tips on the various ways to use oatmeal in the treatment of stretch marks, check out:
—> “Beauty and Tips .com”
“Just as cucumber is an effective way of reducing dark circles under the eyes, so it will also have the same effect on stretch marks.”
And lastly, for even more “home remedy” tips and tricks to prevent and treat your marks, visit:
QUESTION & ANSWER:
Q: “Can tattoos cover up stretch marks?”
A: The answer is, yes and no. A tattoo may be able to hide the stretch mark by covering it up, but the ink might appear slightly different in color on the mark than on the rest of your skin. However, a pro tattoo artist might be able to work their magic around this though, so the differentiation is color is not as noticeable. Remember though, if you are a pregnant woman and get a tattoo on your belly - if you have another baby, odds are you might get stretched out again.
Q: “I’m 13 and have stretch marks. How is this possible?!”
A: Stretch marks are a very common side-effect of puberty for a lot of girls and boys. When the body grows or gains weight rapidly (ie. during puberty), you may notice some fine line begin to appear - the begging of stretch marks forming. When our skin is pulled rapidly or is overstretched, the collagen in our skin gets disrupted. Because of this disruption, stretch marks may begin to form. If you notice stretch marks appearing on your body during puberty - you’re not alone. But keep in mind that you’re young, and your skin is a lot more resilient. Odds are your stretch marks will turn lighter and maybe even disappear over time.
Q: “How do I cover up my stretch marks?”
A: In terms of “covering up” stretch marks or hiding/blending them, a lot of people use Revitol. It is a natural product that many claim works well in reducing the appearance of stretch marks, it can be used for prevention too. It contains aloe vera, squalene oil, vitamin A, vitamin D3, and grape seed extract. Another product that is most commonly used by moms or moms-to-be, is called Trilastin. It helps to rejuvenate your skin at a cellular level by reproducing collagen and elastin while also aiding in prevention of further marks. For the best results however, your options are more expensive medical procedures such as laser surgery, microdermabrasion, or even plastic surgery - but these methods are extreme and not necessary in most cases. Consult your doctor before trying any of these stated methods!
Q: “Can tanning cover up my stretch marks?”
A: Technically speaking, stretch marks are scars - and scars by nature are resistant to changing color. Tanning lotion may diminish stretch marks by evening out your skin's color, but it won’t get rid of them or completely cover them up. Tanning beds, however, just aren’t the way to go - you might even run the risk of making them even more noticeable as your surrounding skin gets darker and your stretch marks stay the same.
Q: “Does having stretch marks mean I’ll have loose skin?”
A: Having stretch marks in certain areas means that the elasticity of the skin in that area is broken - unfortunately you can’t fix that. But the rest of your skin won’t be loose because of this, unless you acquire another stretch mark - then you know that area has lost elasticity as well. Your best bet is to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized to keep it tight and reduce your risk. Stretch marks are also genetic, so you might be able to try and prevent them by using oils, but if they’re in your genes your chances become more slim. It’s still worth a shot though.
Q: “How do I stop stretch marks from ripping open?”
A: It is said that 9 out of 10 women will get stretch marks during pregnancy. How many you will acquire, and where, can be determined by several factors. One, is a hormone called “cortisol” in your body. Someone with high levels of cortisol in their system will acquire less than normal - or maybe none at all. Unfortunately, another factor is your genes. If your mother, or others in your immediate family have them, odds are you might get them too. They are more likely to appear after multiple births, or after giving birth to a more than average weight baby - and typically in the third trimester.
Q: “When and how do stretch marks appear during pregnancy?”
A: The answer is -yes, it is fairly common. many women even have them before pregnancy, and during. They can have already happened during puberty for most women, and it’s very rare for women to go through pregnancy without acquiring any. The fact is, stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of! They are totally normal and natural, no matter how they happen!
Q: “Do all women have stretch marks after pregnancy?”
A: This is something you don’t really need to worry about. They might not look super attractive, but they are just scars - the skin is not broken. You have just as much chance to rip them open as you do with any skin on your body, stretch marks don’t undermine the strength of your skin. So the chances are very slim this will happen, unless you get cut or injured.
RESOURCES & FINDINGS:
—> Cosmetic Cop’s guide to getting rid of stretch marks
—> Top 10 Home Remedies on how to get rid of stretch marks
—> Wikihow’s how to get rid of stretch marks
—> Healthline’s article on Risk Factors
—> Healthline on stretch mark home remedies
—> Doc Shop on stretch mark removal
—> The Stir on 7 natural ways to get rid of marks
—> Kids Health’s guide to stretch marks
—> American Pregnancy on pregnancy stretch marks
—> Medicine Net’s guide to stretch marks
—> Mayo Clinic on stretch mark diagnosis
—> Mayo clinic on stretch mark symptoms
—> Live Strong’s guide to stretch marks that hurt
—> Mama Natural on pumps rash
—> Community Baby Centre on painful stretch marks
—> Health’s How Stuff Works on stretch marks
—> Wiki How on preventing pregnancy stretch marks
—> Wiki How on stretch marks during puberty
—> Livestrong on exercise and stretch marks
—> Healthy Living on exercise and stretch marks
—> Lucille Roberts on stretch mark removal exercise
—> Fox News’s guide to preventing stretch marks
—> Livestrong on foods to eat while pregnant
—> Skincare Articles guide to the do’s and font’s of stretch marks