Understanding Stretch Marks

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Stretch MarkThe topmost layer of the skin is called the epidermis and the second layer below that is the dermis, which contains bundles of collagen. Some people have genetically thick skin with a lot of elasticity, while others have less, making them more prone to developing stretch marks, stretch marks are caused when there is a period of rapid growth in the body that suddenly stretches the skin, and in turn, pulls on your collagen bundles in the dermis. During this time, those bundles tear away from each other, and then when the skin returns to its normal state (i.e. it stops growing), “that most superficial layer [the epidermis] can appear wrinkly [and stretched] because it’s not supported by the same collagen structure underneath,” Dr. Akhavan explains.

What causes this rapid growth that triggers stretch marks? That growth spurts from puberty, pregnancy, rapid weight gain, or increased muscle mass from working out can all be the culprit, any growth that suddenly stretches the skin will stretch your collagen bundles, he says, which then leads to stretch marks if your skin genetically has less elastin.

“It’s literally impossible to 100 percent get rid of them,” Dr. Akhavan notes, but there are things that you can definitely do to improve them, reducing their appearance, which “revolves around building collagen.”Stretch Mark

Really no prescription creams for stretch marks specifically; however, using creams that contain retinoids over other at-home topicals. “Some [at-home topical creams] can make your skin inflamed,” so while you’re using the formula, your stretch marks not be as visible, but the cream isn’t actually changing your skin in any way. Retinoids are a go-to ingredient that have shown improvement.

Using retinol creams because they’re a vitamin A-derived product commonly prescribed for the treatment of wrinkles and fine lines on the face. “The way they work for wrinkles is by building collagen, making collagen bundles thicker and healthier,” he says. So, using the same retinol creams for stretch marks also leads to some improvement in their appearance. “Obviously prescription retinoids are a little stronger than over the counter, so you’ll see more effect there,”. You can’t use retinol while pregnant, and these creams don’t work preventatively (i.e. they only work on stretch marks after you have them).