Monday, March 17, 2014

Why Do I Have Stretch Marks & How Can I Get Rid Of Them?

I have went through a major transformation in my life. Since September of 2013 I have went from weighing in at 189lbs down to 135lbs. Over the last 6 months, I have watched my physical appearance change before my very eyes- as well as the eyes of friends and family. The one thing that I have also seen happen with my skin's texture is for it to darken in certain areas of my body. Mainly on and around areas that have stretch marks. If you're like me- you love the weight loss, but the sagging skin, discoloration,  former cellulite deposit spaces and stretch marks could drive you nuts! Being age 37 right now doesn't make it any easier either!  I'm learning about new ways to resolve these issues, things to eat, drink and use on my skin to naturally camouflage, reduce- if not get rid of these hideous 'war wounds' of weight gain/ loss. Read below some of the tips, tricks and awesome ways to work on those critters- giving you elastic, vibrant, healthy skin. 

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Why Do We Get Stretch Marks 
Stretch marks may appear on the skin when it is suddenly stretched. They occur in the dermis (middle layer of skin), which supports the epidermis (outer surface of the skin). People often ask the question - why do we get stretch marks? Here are some of the main reasons:

Growth Spurts
The dermis consists of strong fibers that link to one another. As your body grows, these fibers allow your
skin to stretch. But, if a certain area of the body grows rather quickly within a short time period, the fibers can get thinner and overstretched resulting in breaking down.

The skin develops tiny tears and shows the blood vessels just under the skin where the fibers have broken in the dermis. This is precisely why stretch marks appear reddish in color when they first materialize. The blood vessels will eventually contract leaving only the fat visible under your skin. In time, the stretch marks will fade to a gray or silvery white color.
Luckily, not everyone develops stretch marks. One possibility could be that some people are more prone to getting them due to the fact their bodies generate more of the hormone, cortisol, than others. Cortisol significantly decreases the collagen levels in your skin, which is the protein that gives your skin elasticity in the skin fibers.

There are many other factors that can cause stretch marks or increase the chances of someone developing them.

Fast Weight Gain
Someone who gains a substantial amount of weight within a short period of time may suddenly discover they have stretch marks. Unfortunately, even if all the weight is lost the marks may still remain.

Yo-Yo Dieting
If you regularly diet and your weight is constantly going up and down, stretch marks may appear.

Pregnancy
Pregnant women have a much higher chance of developing stretch marks. Hormones produced in the body while a woman is pregnant contribute to making the ligaments in the pelvis more pliable so when the time comes to deliver the baby they will stretch more. However, these same hormones also work to soften skin fibers, which can increase the chance for stretch marks.

As the baby continues to grow in the womb, the pregnant mother may notice stretch marks developing on her abdomen as the skin is progressively stretched more and more. Also, a pregnant woman’s breast and thighs get heavier and bigger. Therefore, stretch marks may develop on these body parts as well.

Puberty
Younger people have a tendency to grow fast during puberty, some more than others. Growth spurts are common during puberty.

During puberty, males frequently develop stretch marks on their backs and/or shoulders, while females are prone to getting them on their breasts, thighs, and hips.

Cushing’s Syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome happens when the body makes too much cortisol, the same hormone that makes certain people more likely to develop stretch marks than others.

Cushing’s syndrome produces various symptoms due to the excess cortisol the body produces including:

- significant back pain
- excess facial and body hair
-weight gain

Cushing’s syndrome may produce very prominent stretch marks that are very noticeable and darker in color.

Medications
People who use corticosteroid medications such as lotions, creams or tablets for eczema may find they develop stretch marks more easily.

Corticosteroids work much the same way as cortisol, which is naturally produced in the body. Corticosteroid medicines can alleviate the inflammation that skin conditions cause, but they can additionally diminish the levels of collagen in the skin as well.

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How Do You Get Rid of Stretch Marks 

Many people wonder how do you get rid of stretch marks? When the body suddenly changes in size during such times as puberty, a pregnancy, or rapid weight gain, stretch marks can develop. 

Statistics show that 90% of all pregnant women will develop stretch marks on either their abdomens, thighs, or hips. Unfortunately, evidence shows that genetics play a part as well. Therefore, if your mother developed stretch marks, the odds are against you.

On a good note, there are many things that can prevent stretch marks from ever developing along with diminishing how both the old and new ones look. Review some of the following helpful options. They are listed in order from the easiest to the most difficult to implement.

Proven Topical Options
Try using a moisturizer daily. A study performed comparing herbal-rich moisturizers revealed that people who used lotion everyday showed a substantial improvement in their skin’s elasticity and appearance. When the skin is fully hydrated, the chance of it tearing and producing stretch marks greatly increases.

Retin-A
Another study performed by a major university suggested that people who regularly applied Retin-A on their fresh stretch marks noticed a huge improvement in their skin. Retin-A is believed it to boost the skin’s collagen production, increasing the elasticity and therefore avoiding tears.

Note: if you are pregnant or nursing do not use any products that contain retinoic acid since it can potentially produce birth defects.


Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid can increase collagen production when used on stretch marks making the skin more elastic in general. Since it’s an AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid), it’s considered a member of the same family of compounds typically used for chemically peeling the skin.

Glycolic acid may be purchased over-the-counter and is safe to apply during pregnancy. You may obtain a more powerful dose prescribed by a licensed dermatologist for a more extreme treatment.

Vitamin E Oil
Vitamin E oil is thought by many to be a miraculous cure for stretch marks. Evidence shows that it works better on women who were previously pregnant rather than as an effect agent used overall.

Natural Essential Topical Options
Try using essential oils. They can be applied directly on the skin, or use a carrier such as an unscented moisturizer or organic coconut oil to make them easier to apply. Here are some common oils for addressing stretch marks:
-rose
-helichrysum
-myrrh
-lavender
-geranium
-frankincense

Laser Treatment Alternatives
For new stretch marks, utilize a vascular laser (pulsed dye laser). This kind of treatment can eliminate the preliminary redness and works best on newly developed stretch marks.

Be aware that vascular laser treatments are not as effective on dark skinned women. Similar to hair removal, the procedure works better when there is a significant contrast between the skin’s pigment and the target (stretch mark).

Surgical Alternatives
Some people desire a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). A tummy talk is virtually a sure thing when it comes to getting rid of stretch marks since it literally cuts them out. It should only be used as a last resort when nothing else has worked. 

Anyone who gets a tummy tuck should expect a long recovery. It may require up to four weeks off work and another six months until the area is fully healed.





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