Stretch marks after weight loss can be unsightly and put a damper on your weight loss success. Try these 8 solutions to lighten and even remove stretch marks. Best results are seen with early treatment of fresh stretch marks.
What are stretch marks after weight loss and weight gain?
Stretch marks are scars or disfiguring lesions characterised by flattening and degeneration of the outermost layer of the skin. Stretch marks are long, narrow streaks that are visible on the surface of the skin as a result of stretching of the skin.
Occurring in women more than men, stretch marks appear following rapid repeated over-stretching of the skin over its weak connective tissue. The most common areas affected are the Abdomen, Breasts, Hips, Flank, Buttocks and Thighs.
Stretch marks are common in pregnancy, occurring in over 70% of pregnant women, usually after the 25th week of pregnancy.
What causes stretch marks after weight loss and weight gain?
The skin consists of three key layers: epidermis (the outer layer), dermis (the middle layer) and subcutaneous (the deepest layer). Stretch marks form in the dermis when the middle connective tissue is stretched further than the limits of its elasticity.
The sudden stretching causes the dermis to tear which allows the deepest skin layers to show through, forming the stretch marks.
Stretch marks eventually fade to a lighter colour due to the blood vessels contracting and the fat underneath the skin becoming visible instead.
- Rapid weight gain and weight loss
Weight gain and weight loss are the most common causes of stretch marks.
Stretch marks are common during the later stages of pregnancy; their occurrence depends largely on skin type and skin elasticity.
Hormones are produced during pregnancy that soften pelvic ligaments and increase their flexibility. These hormones also soften skin fibers, giving an increased risk of stretch marks.
Stretch marks appear on the abdomen as the baby grows and sometimes occur in the skin covering the thighs and breasts.
The body goes through growth cycles during puberty which can cause stretch marks. In males, stretch marks can be found on the shoulders and back, while females develop stretch marks on the hips, thighs and breasts during puberty.
- Medical conditions
Marfan syndrome can lead to the development of stretch marks. Marfan syndrome is a genetic condition that causes weakness and decreased elasticity in skin and other body tissues.
Cushing's syndrome can cause stretch marks because the condition involves the overproduction of cortisol, which leads to quick weight gain, especially in the waist area, in addition to causing the skin to become thin and susceptible to stretching.
Sometimes long term use of corticosteroid creams like prednisone can cause stretch marks by decreasing collagen levels and thinning the skin.
Treatments for stretch marks after weight loss and weight gain
1. Lemon Juice for Treating Stretch Marks after Weight loss and Weight gain
Lemon juice has the ability to lighten your stretch marks in the following ways.
- It exfoliates the skin to eliminate the dead cells and other impurities.
- It has skin lightening (or bleaching) properties that helps to bleach away stretch marks
- It is packed with alpha hydroxy acids that stimulate the production of collagen and enhance the growth of new skin cells.
- It has an extremely high content of vitamin C that will help to build up the collagen and repair damaged stretched skin.
This is an easy method to lighten stretch marks using lemon juice.
- Using a cotton swab dipped in freshly squeezed juice and apply it directly onto the stretch marks at nightly.
- Massage it gently over entire stretched marked area.
- Leave it for overnight for best results.
- Repeat the same process until the stretch marks fade.
2. Silicone Gel for Treating Stretch Marks after Weight loss and Weight gain
Silicon gel is a simple gel that has amazing results on preventing and removing scars and stretch marks. It works the best when used immediately after stretch mark is formed.
A study of 20 women who used silicone and placebo gels into separate sides of the abdomen daily for 6 weeks showed that the application of silicone gel increased collagen levels and reduced pigmentation.
3. Laser Therapy for Treating Stretch Marks after Weight loss and Weight gain
Laser therapy is the latest technology to be applied to stretch mark removal. A Korean study showed that a pulsed dye laser can reduce stretch marks in women. This treatment is great for fresh stretch marks but the cost factor is a major deterrent for many.
4. Collagen Supplements for Treating Stretch Marks after Weight loss and Weight gain
Oral intake of collagen can increase skin elasticity by up to 30% in some patients. This increase in elasticity can prevent new stretch marks and also prevent current stretch marks from lengthening and widening.
Collagen can also be injected directly into the stretch mark, however multiple injections over several weeks will be needed to have an effect.
5. Microderm Abrasion for Treating Stretch Marks after Weight loss and Weight gain
Microdermabrasion is a common procedure used in the treatment of skin problems, including acne, acne scarring, stretch marks, and photoaging. The procedure results in a significant improvement in early stretch marks.
This treatment involves a device that blows tiny particles onto the skin, cleaning the skin's surface. This removes the top layer of the skin, stimulating growth of new elastic skin.
6. Gotu Kola for Treating Stretch Marks after Weight loss and Weight gain
Gotu Kola is a perennial herb (meaning it has a lifecycle of more than 2 years) native to Asia that has been an essential part of Ayurvedic & Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years.
Gotu Kola also contains powerful compounds called triterpenes that influence the production of lysine & proline – two amino acids that our body needs to make collagen, a crucial part of healthy skin, muscle & connective tissue that can help with both cellulite & stretch marks.
A study involving 100 pregnant women for 30 months from the 3rd month of pregnancy – showed that Gotu Kola was able to significantly reduce the occurrence & severity of stretch marks as well as provide protection to the women involved in the study who had already experienced stretch marks during puberty.
Gotu kola has one downside in that it takes about 6 months to reach its saturation level to really see improvements, but once you get to that six months you can be guaranteed to see a total reduction of all stretch marks
7. Retinol Cream for Treating Stretch Marks after Weight loss and Weight gain
Products containing retinoic acid are teratogenic (can result in congenital defects) and should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding and can only be used if prescribed by a registered physician.
Tretinoin is a prescription topical cream used in the treatment of acne and is very effective in the treatment of stretch marks.
Studies show that applying tretinoin cream topically significantly improves the clinical appearance of early stretch marks.
Tretinoin has been proven to reduce the length of the stretch marks by 14% and the width by 8% after six months of treatment. In another study, 12-weeks of treatment decreased the length of stretch marks by 20%.
Tretinoin works by rebuilding collagen, which makes stretch marks look normal again.
8. Coconut Oil as a Moisturiser for Treating Stretch Marks after Weight loss and Weight gain
People who moisturise daily showed significant improvement in skin appearance and elasticity. It quite simple, well hydrated skin is less likely to tear when stretched.
Make sure you keep the areas of your body that are prone to stretch marks well moisturised.
Coconut oil is great for minimizing stretch marks because coconut oil is primarily made up of medium chain triglyceride lauric acid which makes it an excellent moisturiser.
Coconut oil helps with stretch marks as it is known to improve skin elasticity and increase cell regeneration. Use coconut oil directly on stretch marks once daily.