How to prevent stretch marks?
Imagine a balloon that's been blown up and then deflated. No matter how much you blow it up again, it's already lost much of its original elasticity and will never look quite the same. Stretch marks are similar, in that they don't ever go away entirely. The key, however, is finding ways to reduce their appearance. The earlier you begin treating stretch marks - when they are red or reddish brown - the more likely you are to diminish their appearance. Once these marks begin to flatten and fade they
become less obvious and are more difficult to treat.
Between 75 and 90 per cent of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy. The sustained stretching on the abdomen as a result of weight gain usually means stretch marks will appear during the sixth or seventh month. But pregnant women aren't alone in being susceptible. Adolescents experiencing growth spurts and athletes - especially bodybuilders who practise strenuous and repetitive exercise - are likely to get stretch marks, as is anyone who gains or loses a significant amount of weight in a short period of time.
Excessive weight gain is one of the main reasons stretch marks develop. When the skin is stretched excessively over a short space of time dermal tearing occurs which creates scars in the dermis (middle layer of the skin) which we refer to as stretch marks. The epidermis (outer layer of skin) is also affected, the cells become thin and flattened which makes the defect in the dermis more visible. If your weight doesn't tend to fluctuate, you are not likely to develop stretch marks. But those who carry children or tend to gain and lose weight frequently are likely candidates. Some say that since our skin structure is genetically determined, we are predisposed to developing stretch marks. Others believe that there are preventative measures we can take. Here are some general suggestions that may help: massage your skin with a glove or massage brush to increase circulation; apply moisturising cream to the affected area on a daily basis to keep the skin supple; and eat foods that contribute to the overall health of your skin, such as those high in vitamins C and E, zinc and silica
If caught in the early stages, stretch marks can be minimised with over-the-counter moisturising creams. Vitamin E oil, which assists in general skin healing and condition, can reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Vitamin A is also a good emollient, but it's not as effective as prescription Tretinoin, or Retin-A, which attaches itself to receptors on the skin cells and helps exfoliate the skin and form healthy new cells. Though these creams are effective in moisturising the outer skin layer, they can't always penetrate deep into the dermis where stretch marks occur. They also can't completely change a pre-existing skin condition, which is why they work best on stretch marks that are just forming. Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals that maintain healthy skin is thought to prevent stretch marks. These vitamins and minerals include: Vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and silica. If your diet is lacking these vitamins and minerals you might want to consider consulting a doctor or nutritionalist about a suitable supplement. Vitamins and supplements that help to prevent blood vessels under the skin and spider veins can also be helpful, these include: Bioflavonoid complex or vitamin P. Drinking plenty of water and regular exercise can also help to keep the circulation working properly.
Massaging oil, moisturizers or creams into your stretch marks on a daily basis can help to keep the circulation working properly in the affected tissue. The moisturizer, oil or cream will also keep your skin soft and supple. Vitamin E oil/cream or Cocoa Butter are two of the most popular choices for preventing stretch marks. There is no scientific evidence to prove that they work, but many women swear by them for preventing stretch and treating stretch marks. Prescription creams that contain tretinoin or retin A can also be used to keep stretch marks at bay, but they can not be used when pregnant or nursing. AHAs are derived from certain plants, many of which are fruits, and so are sometimes called 'fruit acids'. AHA creams are said to help with stretch marks because they moisturise the outer layer of skin, making it more pliable. These products increase cell regeneration by 'burning off' the outer layer of skin cells. By removing the top layer of cells, healthier ones rise to the surface, improving skin texture and colour, and allowing moisturisers to be absorbed so the skin remains supple. While penetrating the skin's surface, the water-binding properties of AHAs increase the skin's flexibility and assist in stretch mark reduction. Though your skin may feel dry and flaky at first from the dead cells being sloughed away, after a few weeks, AHAs may make your skin feel and appear smoother - and visibly reduce stretch marks. If you stop using AHAs, the skin will return to its normal state since cell regeneration is no longer taking place.