If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, been pregnant or gone through a rapid growth spurt, you probably have stretch marks. In fact, it’s estimated that 80 percent of all people have stretch marks, though women are more likely to get them than men.
Those little pink, white or purple lines that stretch across various body parts are the subject of much angst. In an effort to live peacefully with them, multiple campaigns have been created to urge people—particularly women—to embrace their stretch marks as beautiful designs rather than flaws.
Though it’s important to love and appreciate your body no matter what it looks like, you may still wish to at least minimize the appearance of your stretch marks. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve the way you look, as long as your goals are safe and attainable. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce the appearance of stretch marks without undergoing major surgery or other invasive procedures. Here’s how.
How Stretch Marks Appear
Before you take steps to minimize your stretch marks, you should understand how they form. Stretch marks are actually scars that develop when the skin stretches rapidly. They can also develop when the skin shrinks abruptly. Changes in skin tautness occur when the elastin and collagen in the skin rupture. As they heal, stretch marks form.
Once they form, stretch marks are usually permanent. However, they do tend to fade over time. If you leave them alone, they can take years to fade to the point where they are no longer very obvious. If you want to speed up that process, here are some things you can do to help stretch marks fade more quickly.
Apply Stretch Mark Creams and Lotions
While research shows mixed results when it comes to stretch mark creams and lotions, researchers say that some products can help minimize scarring. However, they must be applied every day for several weeks before results appear. You should also take time to carefully massage stretch mark products into your skin to maximize their effectiveness.
Avoid Tanning Beds
It’s already a well-known fact that tanning beds increase your risk of skin cancer. It turns out they can also make your stretch marks much more noticeable. That’s because stretch marks don’t tan as readily as the rest of your skin. So each time you get in a tanning bed, you increase the visibility of your stretch marks while putting yourself at increased risk of skin cancer. Avoid both scenarios by staying away from tanning beds.
Apply a Self-Tanner
Although tanning beds can make your stretch marks stand out even more, self-tanner can do the opposite. Self-tanner won’t get rid of stretch marks, but it can help camouflage them so they blend in better with the rest of your skin.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Some foods are known to help the body increase its own production of elastin and collagen. Leafy greens and brightly-colored fruits and vegetables are particularly helpful for increasing elastin and collagen and contributing to healthy skin that stretches and springs back more readily. If your diet is rich in these types of foods, you may be able to minimize the appearance of future stretch marks.
There are a variety of procedures dermatologists use to minimize the appearance of stretch marks. Some of these include:
- Chemical peels
- Laser therapy
For optimal results, your dermatologist may recommend multiple therapies in combination. It’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that there is no known therapy that can completely remove stretch marks.
Whether you have new, brightly colored stretch marks or yours have faded over time, these techniques can help them fade even further. Try one or all of them today and within weeks you could start seeing positive results.