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Stretch marks: what helps against them, origin, home remedies

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 382 views

Stretch marks have a variety of causes. Stretch marks can form, especially in women during pregnancy when the skin stretches a lot. Then one often speaks of stretch marks. But it can also affect non-pregnant women and men: Stretch marks appear when the elastic fibers of the skin are irreparably damaged by overstretching or a hormonal change. Read here whether stretch marks can be removed and which measures have a preventive effect.

quick overview

  • What are stretch marks? initially bluish-red and later white-yellowish, scar-like strips of skin, typically on the breasts, abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Medical terms for this are striae cutis, striae cutis atrophicae, striae cutis distensae, striae distensae.
  • Causes: Overstretching of the connective tissue, e.g. B. by pregnancy, rapid weight gain , hormone treatment, severe muscle loss
  • Household remedies: plucking massage, care oils/cellulite creams, microneedling
  • Therapy: e.g. B. Lasers, chemical peeling , micro-massage
  • Specialist in charge: Dermatologist
  • Prevention: e.g. by showering with cold water, healthy nutrition, sports, massages, skin care products

Prevent stretch marks

Stretch marks are stubborn and difficult to remove, let alone inexpensive. So it’s best if they don’t arise in the first place. But how can you prevent stretch marks? Various measures can help:

  • cold shower
  • healthy eating
  • a lot of drinking
  • sports and exercise
  • well-fitting bra to support breast tissue
  • Dry brush massages with a massage glove
  • Plucking and kneading massages
  • Various creams and lotions (with the active ingredient alpha-tocopherol; other ingredients include elastin, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, collagen)

Some of these measures can promote the elasticity of the skin and increase blood circulation. In some cases, they should even be able to limit the extent of existing stretch marks.

It remains unclear whether the measures mentioned actually prevent stretch marks. The data on this is sparse.

Stretch marks: causes and possible diseases

Stretch marks occur when the connective tissue is overstretched and the elastic fibers ( collagen and elastin ) of the subcutaneous tissue (subcutis) tear. Such an overstretching can have different causes. Stretch marks often appear in women during pregnancy (especially in the second half of pregnancy) when the elasticity of the skin is severely strained by the growing child. Changes in hormone levels also play their part in the development of stretch marks: blood cortisol levels are higher during pregnancy – and since the adrenal hormone reduces the elasticity of the skin, it is more likely to tear and stretch marks appear.

Such pregnancy-related stretch marks are known by experts as striae gravidarum . In the vernacular one speaks of stretch marks . Women with sensitive, light skin who gain a lot of weight during pregnancy, were already overweight or have weak connective tissue are particularly susceptible to this.

But stretch marks can also develop outside of pregnancy, regardless of gender and age, for example due to

  • rapid fat gain
  • Strong muscle build-up (e.g. through bodybuilding)
  • a hormone treatment
  • prolonged use of cortisone (glucocorticoids)
  • puberty (striae pubertalis, striae adolescentium)
  • Obesity (obesity) with disturbed hormone production (endocrine disorder; striae obesitatis, striae rubrae)
  • Infections such as typhus , typhus, tuberculosis (striae infectiosae)
  • Cushing ‘s syndrome (consequence of abnormally increased production of the adrenal hormone cortisol)

Because stretch marks often run in families, a genetic component in their formation is also discussed.

Home remedies for stretch marks

Stretch marks are relatively stubborn and dig into the tissue like small scars . vitamin A ointment can make them recede a bit. However, you should not use the ointment during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as it could harm the (unborn) child.

Home remedies to relieve stretch marks are partly the same as for prevention:

  • Regular massage: The classic plucking massage, in which small rolls of skin are gently pulled upwards with the thumb and forefinger, is intended to stimulate blood circulation and do the connective tissue good. Caution: Pregnant women should avoid the area above the pubic bone, as the massage could irritate the uterus and cause contractions. Four weeks before the birth you should only be oiled and no longer massaged.
  • Oiling: Used daily, care oils should make the skin supple. Various products are available in drugstores and pharmacies; some are also specifically declared for use during pregnancy. Warm castor oil or calendula ointment are also said to help repair skin cracks as home remedies for stretch marks. And of course you can try to strengthen your connective tissue with special cellulite oils.
  • Microneedling: Sounds bad, but it’s usually painless. With this treatment, you pull a roller with fine needles over the strips. It pricks microscopic holes in the skin, whereupon the body releases collagen to close the wounds. Among other things, this protein stabilizes the skin, which is said to reduce stretch marks. You can have needling done at home or at a beautician, but no more than once a week.
  • Self-tanner: If all else fails – and that’s possible, since the body of research on the effectiveness of home remedies for stretch marks is scarce – you can try to conceal the marks with self-tanner. It evens out the color of the skin and fine cracks. Follow the application instructions for the respective product.

Home remedies have their limits. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, do not get better or even get worse, you should always consult a doctor.

Stretch Marks: When to See a Doctor?

You don’t need to see a doctor for stretch marks. The striated, painless skin changes are solely a cosmetic and not a health problem. However, some of those affected suffer greatly from the stretch marks and feel restricted in their everyday life, for example because they no longer dare to show themselves in a bikini. In such cases, you should consult a dermatologist (aesthetic medicine) and seek advice on treatment options.

Stretch marks: what does the doctor do?

Even with modern methods, stretch marks can often not be completely removed, but they can be reduced. Promising therapies include:

  • Laser therapy : various laser methods for wrinkle smoothing, skin tightening, collagen regeneration
  • chemical peeling: microdermabrasion, glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, fruit acid
  • Mesotherapy: Micro-injections of medication directly into the deeper layers of the skin (active substance depot)
  • Carboxytherapy: Injecting carbon dioxide directly into the scar area improves blood circulation
  • Surgical cryotherapy : Tissue is specifically destroyed by cold (liquid nitrogen).
  • Local dynamic micro-massage ( LDM ) with high-frequency ultrasound
  • Reflective skintonic depresso therapy: innovative massage technique (suction massage)

With some laser methods, “fresh” striae in particular, i.e. reddish streaks, can be treated more effectively than older, pale striae. In dark-skinned people, however, hyperpigmentation can easily occur – the treated skin areas then appear darker than the surrounding healthy skin. In addition, the skin urgently needs careful care before and after laser therapy. This is the only way the wounds can heal optimally and side effects can be avoided.

Health insurance companies usually do not cover the costs of medical treatment for stretch marks. If you are still interested, you should first consult an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon: Have them explain the different methods of removing stretch marks and ask about the costs, benefits, risks and side effects of each.

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