Are those stretch marks making you too concerned about wearing sleeveless tops or that sundress you bought before the holiday season? Congratulations you are not alone. Stretch marks are one of the most common cosmetic issues, which seemingly affects large swathes of young people, both men and women alike. So you don’t need to worry about showing some scars of your own. It’s definitely a sign that you are alive and have gone through physical changes.

But if you are as stubborn as these striae, you can definitely reduce their prominence and make them faded enough to make you feel more confident about your appearance.

This article will equip you with some simple techniques for getting rid of those stretch marks easily and effectively!

  1. What causes stretch marks?
  2. When can you develop stretch marks?
  3. Most common areas to develop stretch marks
  4. How to remove stretch marks?
  5. Stretch marks removal creams and oils
  6. Stretch marks treatments
  7. Home remedies for stretch marks
  8. Takeaway
Doctors for How to remove stretch marks

Stretch marks are a type of scar that develops when your skin undergoes rapid expansion or shrinkage. This usually occurs due to the influence of certain hormones (internal or taken from outside) that damage connective tissue protein fibres like elastin and collagen. These fibres are responsible for maintaining the structural integrity and flexibility of your skin and their rupture creates gaps underneath your skin. As the skin heals these gaps gradually, scarring occurs, which appears as stretch marks.

Initially, when stretch marks appear, they are usually red, pink, purple or brown depending upon your skin colour. They appear slightly raised from the skin due to the scarring and could be itchy. With time, the colour goes away and the scarred skin sinks in. if you happen to have old stretch marks anywhere on your body, run your finger across it, you will feel this slight depression.

Having learned the science behind the process of scarring let us look at the most prevalent cases and situations when you can develop such marks:

  • At puberty due to the presence of growth spurts (6 to 86% cases)
  • During pregnancy (43 to 88% cases). Hormonal fluctuations and increase in foetal size are two of the most common causes of skin stretching and stretch marks during pregnancy. Rapid weight loss or weight gain (83% cases).
  • Rapid muscle growth (muscle hypertrophy) while weight training

(Read more: How to lose weight after pregnancy)

Stretch marks are also influenced by genetics If it runs in your family, there is an increased chance that you will develop it too.

If you are suffering from Cushing disease, Marfan's syndrome, Anorexia Nervosa or Chronic Liver Disease there is a high probability of you getting severe stretch marks.

Furthermore, regular and long term application of corticosteroids may also lead to the development of stretch marks. The reason behind this is that these corticosteroids increase the breakdown of connective tissue proteins like collagen.

Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body but the more common areas of the problem are:

  • Thighs
  • Abdomen
  • Breasts in females
  • Upper arms in males

Note that the risks of developing stretch marks are more common in females, dark-skinned population and smokers.

Stretch marks are not really harmful in and of themselves. However, they may be a sign of a bigger issue with your health, especially if it is occurring due to sudden and unexplained weight gain and loss. In that case, it is important to make necessary changes in your diet and lifestyle to help manage your weight and health. If your stretch marks are a result of a growth spurt or pregnancy, you can use some topical agents and home remedies to prevent them or make them look less noticeable.

Such treatments offer added benefits for your skin and overall health. For a more detailed breakdown of various ways to get rid of stretch marks maximally, read below.

Now that we have covered the causes and prevalence of stretch marks let us look at the widely used medicines/ applications that can help deal with it:

Tretinoin (retinoic acid)

Tretinoin is a retinoid, a derivative of vitamin A. It has been clinically proven that retinoids fade the immature or developing stretch marks. However, they are not as successful in reducing mature scars. A study conducted on 22 patients, who applied 0.1% tretinoin every day for 6 months, revealed a significant reduction in stretch marks, 14% in length and 8% in width to be precise.

In another study, 20 women with pregnancy stretch marks on abdomen Were given topical applications of 0.1% tretinoin for 3 months  Results of the study showed a 20% reduction in the length of stretch marks.

These results surely posit tretinoin as one of the more promising medicines to help fade the disfiguring stretch marks, especially in their formative stages.

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid. Glycolic acid stimulates collagen production by fibroblasts and also induces proliferation of fibroblasts. This property could be very beneficial for treating stretch marks as they develop due to rupture of collagen. Even though there is no scientific evidence supporting the use of glycolic acid for the prevention of stretch marks, it has shown some beneficial effects in reducing the severity of visible stretch marks. This was established in a study where 50% of glycolic acid was applied topically after mixing with 0.1% tretinoin. It is said to have several skin benefits like rejuvenation, peeling and protection from photoaging.

Trichloroacetic acid

Another chemical compound used for getting rid of stretch marks is trichloroacetic acid. It is generally applied in the concentration of 10 to 35%. Trichloroacetic acid, when used in lower concentrations (15 to 20%) along with deep dermal chemexfoliation, and repeated for several months can provide a significant improvement in texture and colour of stretch marks. However, it should never be used in more than 50% concentration, as the effect could be the exact opposite of your needs.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is used commonly as an anti-ageing compound. It helps in reducing wrinkles, locks-in skin hydration and increases skin elasticity. Even though it has shown little evidence in treating stretch marks directly, it is worth trying this acid with other medicaments for a better result.

One cannot magically get rid of stretch marks completely but a plastic surgeon or dermatologist may be your best bet. There are several treatments available like microdermabrasion and laser treatment, which can make your stretch mark significantly faint and unnoticeable. Some of the techniques used are as follows:

Laser therapy

This is one of the newest treatments for getting rid of stretch marks. Laser therapy offers promising results when it comes to banishing stretch marks. It is a non-invasive and safe procedure that utilizes light energy to repair and regenerate damaged skin cells. Rays that are used in this laser therapy are in the visible and infrared spectrums.

These light rays are strong enough to demolish and remove the scar tissue, soften and obliterate the gap between skin fibres. American Society of Dermatology advocates, these effects of laser therapy which can provide a better appearance to your skin by fading stretch marks.

However, there are two drawbacks  this treatment:

  • It is expensive. But if you can afford it, definitely go for laser therapy.
  • Multiple sessions: This treatment normally requires up to 20 sessions over a few weeks to show 20 to 60% improvement in terms of the disappearance of marks. Results are usually permanent but may require to follow up maintenance procedures and treatment.

Possible risks of the procedure: There are always a few associated risks with any medical procedure and the same caveat applies to laser therapy. You may feel pain, slight discolouration and swelling for 4 to 8 hours after the therapy. In some cases, severe symptoms like bleeding, infection, scarring and crusting can occur as well.

Platelet-rich plasma and ultrasound

Even in the age of advancing medical alternatives, definitive treatment of stretch marks is yet to be discovered. However, one promising alternative is platelet-rich plasma.

Recently, a study has been done to ascertain the effectiveness of platelet-rich plasma in treating stretch marks. A total of 18 patients were treated with Alma lasers for four sessions spread over a period of  8-10weeks. Ultrasound was used to increase the penetration of the platelet-rich plasma through the skin. Significant improvement was reported in most patients after the two month period of treatment. More than 70% of patients were very happy with the outcome. The only possible side effect associated with the treatment is hyperpigmentation.

Microdermabrasion

This treatment modality is widely used in dermatology to treat acne scars, mottled pigmentation and fine wrinkles. This can also help in reducing the appearance of stretch marks as it has the potential to remodel and repair the dermal matrix by creating micro bleeding points in the upper layer of your skin and inducing the repair process of the body. In a clinical study done on 20 patients, good to excellent improvement in the structure and severity of stretch marks was seen in more than half of the patients with the regular use of derma needles for about 2-3 months.

If you are someone who does not want to foot an expensive medical bill on laser surgery or subject your body and skin to potent chemicals, then there is a bouquet of natural therapies and remedies for stretch marks you can try at your home. Let’s begin with a nice relaxing massage.

Typical oil massage

Traditionally, various oils like almond oil, olive oil, wheat germ oil, avocado oil, argan oil, eucalyptus tree oil and castor oil are used to massage the skin affected with stretch marks. These oils have a natural therapeutic effect when massaged on the skin.This process utilizes the fact that adequate hydration to the skin leads to its rejuvenation. Also, these oils are rich in beneficial vitamins like vitamin E, which is an excellent antioxidant. Apart from nourishing your skin, it also promotes the natural process of healing in skin, leading to quick fading of stretch marks.

According to a study, argan oil increases skin elasticity. Along with diminishing the old stretch marks this also helps in preventing the appearance of new stretch marks.

Protection from sun damage

When you go outside without any sun protection, potent rays of the sun damage the layers of your skin by breaking down the collagen fibres. Loss of collagen from your skin can make it vulnerable and prone to stretch marks.To avoid sun-caused stretch marks, never step outside without proper sun protection. For this use the following precautions:

  • Cover your skin or all exposed areas of the body with a cotton cloth.
  • Always use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) 30.
  • Avoid sun exposure at noon when the heat is at its highest.

(Read more: Sunburn symptoms, causes, treatment)

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is supposed to be the natural panacea for skin problems. When it comes to getting rid of stretch marks, it works like a charm. Aloe Vera contains several bioactive compounds like vitamins, enzymes, glucomannan and gibberellin (a growth hormone). These compounds interact with the growth factor receptor present on the fibroblasts and increase their activity and proliferation. This, in turn, increases collagen production, when applied topically or taken orally. Most abundant vitamins that are found in aloe vera are vitamin A, C, E. These act as antioxidants, further helping in repairing the scar tissue. In addition to all of these benefits, it also increases the secretion of hyaluronic acid, which further helps in the disappearance of stretch marks.

Here is how you can make the best use of aloe vera and get rid of stretch marks for good:

Ingredients:

  • 1 aloe vera leaf
  • A knife

Procedure:

  • Take aloe vera leaf, peel it with the help of a knife, and remove the pulp.
  • Massage it over the affected area for at least 10 minutes daily.
  • Don't wash the area, leave it as such.

Tip: you could also take aloe vera orally. It is available in the form of pills. Alternatively, you can include aloe vera in your smoothies. Just add some pulp into your regular drink to make it super healthy and therapeutic.

Cocoa butter

Just like its heavenly smell, the skin benefits of cocoa butter are also divine. It soothes the skin by providing abundant hydration and reduces hyperpigmentation of the scar tissue, ultimately making your stretch marks less noticeable.

Let's see how you can use cocoa butter for stretch marks:

Ingredients:

  • Cocoa butter as per need

Procedure:

  • Take the butter and rub or massage it over the skin to get it absorbed completely.
  • Leave it as such over the skin for better results.

Centella asiatica (gotu kola) extracts

This a medicinal herb, used in traditional system of medicines since centuries, for its various cosmetic benefits. It is widely cultivated in India and is famously known as tiger grass. This herb contains several useful compounds, which stimulate fibroblast proliferation and increase the production of collagen. This, in turn, promotes the healing and fading of stretch marks exponentially. It also helps in enhancing the tensile strength of the skin and making it less prone to damage or developing stretch marks. Now, after knowing all the goodness of this herb, let's learn how you can use it:

  • Extracts of this herb can be used topically on the skin with stretch marks. They are available in the market in the form of ointments.
  • You could also ingest tiger grass tablets and capsules which can be easily purchased from drug stores.
  • Injections of its extracts are also available and can be taken in certain cases.
  • Various homeopathic medicines use its extract, you can check in with a doctor to know more about the benefits, dosage and use of these medications.

It is important to remember that stretch marks are not harmful at all. Though they may be a sign of bigger health conditions related to sudden weight gain and weight loss. The best way to mitigate such skin problems and effectively preventing them is to follow a healthy diet and add adequate physical activity in your daily life. For pregnant women and adolescents, this becomes even more pertinent. Having said that, if you are already dealing with stretch marks then you can easily opt for some home remedies or go for a clinical procedure to get rid of them easily and effectively Always consult your doctor in case your condition shows no or little improvement.

(Read more: Skin disorders and diseases)

Dr. Merwin Polycarp

Dr. Merwin Polycarp

Dermatology
15 Years of Experience

Dr. Raju Singh

Dr. Raju Singh

Dermatology
1 Years of Experience

Dr. Afroz Alam

Dr. Afroz Alam

Dermatology
4 Years of Experience

Dr. Pranjal Praveen

Dr. Pranjal Praveen

Dermatology
5 Years of Experience

References

  1. Oakley AM, Patel BC. Stretch Marks (Striae). [Updated 2018 Dec 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosemont (IL), US; Stretch marks: Why they appear and how to get rid of them
  3. Uwe Wollina, Alberto Goldman. Management of stretch marks (with a focus on striae rubrae) . J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2017 Jul-Sep; 10(3): 124–129. PMID: 29403182
  4. Mohamed L. Elsaie et al. Striae Distensae (Stretch Marks) and Different Modalities of Therapy: An Update. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery: 06 April 2009
  5. Kang S, Kim KJ, Griffiths CEM, et al. Topical Tretinoin (Retinoic Acid) Improves Early Stretch Marks. Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(5):519–526.
  6. S. Manjula Jegasothy, Valentina Zabolotniaia, Stephan Bielfeldt. Efficacy of a New Topical Nano-hyaluronic Acid in Humans . J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Mar; 7(3): 27–29. PMID: 24688623
  7. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. LASER/LIGHT THERAPY FOR STRETCH MARKS. [Internet]
  8. Dong-Hye Suh et al. Treatment of striae distensae combined enhanced penetration platelet-rich plasma and ultrasound after plasma fractional radiofrequency. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, Volume 14, 2012 - Issue 6
  9. Cătălina Bogdan et al. Preliminary study on the development of an antistretch marks water-in-oil cream: ultrasound assessment, texture analysis, and sensory analysis . Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016; 9: 249–255. PMID: 27660478
  10. Amar Surjushe, Resham Vasani, D G Saple. ALOE VERA: A SHORT REVIEW. Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53(4): 163–166. PMID: 19882025
  11. Hajhashemi M et al. The effect of Aloe vera gel and sweet almond oil on striae gravidarum in nulliparous women. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2018 Jul;31(13):1703-1708. PMID: 28521546
  12. S. Ud‐Din, D. McGeorge, A. Bayat. Topical management of striae distensae (stretch marks): prevention and therapy of striae rubrae and albae . J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2016 Feb; 30(2): 211–222. PMID: 26486318
  13. Wiesława Bylka et al. Centella asiatica in cosmetology . Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2013 Feb; 30(1): 46–49. PMID: 24278045
Read on app