Stretch Marks Suck

My friend Zack wants to know why he has new stretch marks even though he’s loosing weight. This is my short reply to his question. The stretch marks are there now because his skin no longer needs to stretch out. It’s relaxed now, and that’s why he can see all the marks so clearly.

Total Read Time = 2 minutes

Stretch marks—Striae Distensae—happen when collagen and elastin in the skin become stressed due to a rapid increase in size from constant, progressive stretching. It is most common in pregnant women, bodybuilders, adolescents, overweight individuals and people with Cushing syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Stretch marks are not life-threatening, but extreme cases may tear or rupture.

Stretch marks are very common in women (90 percent of pregnant women and 70 percent of adolescent females) but adolescent men (40 percent) can get them too. Stretch marks can also occur from prolonged use of oral or topical corticosteroids. But you would know anything about steroids, right? RIGHT? Good.

The natural evolution of stretch marks is like that of a healing wound: They start off flat and pink, gradually growing longer and wider. They take on a reddish-purple color and eventually fade to a faint white band.

Put Some Cream On It

Tretinoin cream may reduce the appearance of stretch marks less than six weeks old and still pink or red. It works by rebuilding collagen. Tretinoin is not effective on old stretch marks and should not be used if you are pregnant.

If using too much topical steroid has made you fearful of creams (and why wouldn’t it?), pulsed dye laser therapy is right for you. It stimulates growth of collagen and elastin and is most effective on new stretch marks.

Fractional photothermolysis also stimulates collagen and elastin growth. But this one does so by destroying stretch marks from within. A tiny laser beam vaporizes cells beneath the surface of your skin, helping it heal faster than it would on its own.

Excimer lasers do nothing for collagen or elastin. Instead, it stimulates melanin production, forcing the old and lighter streaks to become slightly darker to match the surrounding skin. Think of it as a Michael Jackson in reverse (too soon?).

Okay, so you’ve seen Star Wars way too many times and lasers are just not your thing. That’s cool; I understand. Just so happens, microdermabrasion has nothing to do with lasers, opting instead to blow super-small crystals on to skin, polishing it and giving you that “wind swept” look. A super-small vacuum then removes the crystals along with your dead skin cells. It stimulates new growth by removing the outermost layer of the skin, making it more elastic in the process. Microdermabrasion works really well for older stretch marks.

So why are there new ones?

Like my friend asked, why are there new stretch marks even though I’m loosing weight?

When I lost all that weight two years ago, I started noticing stretch marks I hadn’t seen before, especially around my midsection. It all seemed counter-intuitive and I just couldn’t understand where they came from or why they arrived.

Today I know better. My guess is that all those “new” stretch marks my friend speaks of are not new at all, but have been there the whole time. He just didn’t see them because the skin was still stretching. Now that he’s loosing weight his skin doesn’t need to stretch any more and the marks are becoming more visible.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the stretch marks, Zack. All of my stretch marks are completely gone now and you really have to look hard to find where they used to be. Just keep training and eating right and all your hard work will pay off in the end. I’m proof of that.

Mayo Clinic
DermNet New Zealand

3 Responses to “Stretch Marks Suck”
  1. Todd Couture says:

    Dear Derek and Zack,
    There are also some essential oils that are great for stretch marks – helping to prevent them and helping them to dissipate. Many pregnant women will use lavender oil or a blend of oils known for helping with this such as Gentle Baby or Valor. These are blends from Young Living Essential Oils and ones that I work directly with. They are ones that I can recommend because I am sure of their quality. There are lots of other oils on the market, but not all of them are necessarily therapeutic grade. I can give you more resources if you would like. Hope this helps. And, yes, don’t stress out about it. Stress does more damage than stretch marks!

  2. Derek Peruo says:

    Great point, Todd.

    Where can people find out more about high-quality essential oils?

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