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The Truth about Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are a fact of life for most women and a lot of men. Some people first see them during adolescence, some not until pregnancy or other significant weight-gain event. No matter how long you’ve lived with them, the truth is, they’re likely going to be with you forever. Here’s what we know…

The How and Why Stretch Marks Develop

Stretch marks are lesions that appear when skin stretches beyond its capacity. In other words, skin has to stretch faster than the dermal layer can produce collagen and elastin—the components that give skin its shape—to support the epidermal layer (the layer you actually see). Stretch marks are usually red or purplish and may fade to a lighter or even silvery shade.

Stretch marks are most likely to form when elevated cortisol levels are in the body. And, the body is likely to produce more cortisol during:

  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Times of chronic stress

Cortisol levels may also be affected by hormone changes that occur because of hormone replacement therapy and body chemistry changes associated with use of anabolic and/or corticosteroids. So, bodybuilders may get stretch marks, even though their weight gain is primarily muscle.

Stretch Mark Treatments

Although countless products over the years have claimed to prevent, diminish or vanish stretch marks, research does not support these claims.

Hormones and genetics seem to be the biggest factors affecting whether someone does or does not develop stretch marks during times of rapid growth. However, using topical products to stimulate collagen and elastin production certainly will not harm your skin and may help minimize stretch mark severity. Topical products are also more likely to be safe, especially during critical times like pregnancy, than any systemic drug that could more effectively alter hormone levels.

So what products could you use to try to prevent stretch marks or diminish their appearance?

The products with the most promise to prevent or reduce stretch marks are those that encourage the production of collagen and elastin. Active ingredients that boost collagen and elastin production include:

  • Vitamin C (look for products with ascorbic acid—pure vitamin C—rather than a derivative)
  • Aloe
  • Hyaluronic acid

Any product with high antioxidant content that protects the collagen and elastin already in your dermal matrix may minimize stretch marks, too. (Please note: pregnant or lactating women should consult their medical care provider before using products with retinoids—i.e., Vitamin A, its precursors and derivatives.)

Hale Cosmeceuticals has a number of skincare products that, although formulated for the delicate skin on your face and neck, may be applied with good effect on other areas of your body. Contact us to try a free sample of our Dermist M3HA moisturizer or vitamin C serums.

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