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Visibly Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks Causes and treatments 2024

Stretch Marks

Visibly Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks Causes and treatments 2024

What reduces appearance of stretch marks? In two large studies, applying hyaluronic acid to early stretch marks made the stretch marks less noticeable. Tretinoin is a retinoid, which may also make early stretch marks less noticeable. In one study, people who applied this prescription cream every night for 24 weeks had less noticeable stretch marks.

Stretch marks are highly visible skin atrophies due to localized thinning and sinking of the epidermis and due to the differentiated violet, pink or pearly color that they may present. These linear or banded atrophic lesions occur in areas of large skin folds,

in the periaxillary region, mammary region, periumbilical region, iliac fossae, lumbar region, inner or upper thigh, and popliteal region. They occur as a consequence of a breakage and partial loss of collagen and elastin fibers in the affected region, leading to a decrease in skin cohesion and yielding said area to the tensile forces of the muscular masses that the skin supports.

For the medical profession, the appearance of skin stretch marks in certain stages of a person’s life, mainly of the female sex, does not represent a pathological disorder of practical interest. But from the aesthetic point of view it is a great cause for concern, mainly in women, since it is the sex most affected by this type of condition. They appear approximately between 27 and 35% of adolescents (between 10 and 16 years, and 2.5 times more in women than in men).

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Visibly Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks Causes and treatments 2024

Women in the period of puberty suffer a series of hormonal changes and disorders that can lead to the formation of atrophic stretch marks (which can affect 58% of adolescent women), which, if not avoided, will accompany them throughout the entire period. life. In pregnancy, if preventive measures are not taken, stretch marks appear between 75 and 95% of pregnant women, being greater in primiparous women. Also in the risk group are all those women subjected to weight loss cures and, above all, those who also suffer from other disorders, such as cellulite. Sudden changes in weight, both increasing and decreasing, as a consequence of metabolic alterations or simply due to aesthetic imperatives,

There is a notable lack of information to the public on the subject, which can only be alleviated through direct contact between the office pharmacist and his clients. This is one of the missions of the pharmacist as a health technician, without which the chances of success of any preventive treatment will be diminished.

Regarding the etiology of stretch marks, breaks in the fibrous fabric (collagen and elastin) of the dermal connective tissue are due to the isolated or joint action of a series of endocrine, mechanical and neurophysiological etiopathogenic factors.

Endocrine or biochemical factors

In the formation of stretch marks, the influence of two types of hormones is fundamentally highlighted: adrenal cortices (cortisone and hydrocortisone) and estrogens.

The effects of these hormones and their role in skin shedding are discussed below.

Adrenocortical hormones

They are produced by the cortical part of the adrenal gland, an endocrine disorder of adrenal cortical origin, with evident glucocorticoid hyperfunction and probable (moderate) mineralocorticoid hyperfunction, resulting in the following effects:

An increase in glucogenesis, with the consequent decrease in energy capacity, which produces a decrease in dermal metabolism that negatively affects fibroblast synthesis.

An increase in lipolysis, with partial mobilization of fat in subcutaneous adipose tissue, which is perceived externally with an increase in flaccidity.

An increase in proteolysis and decrease in dermal fibroblast proteosynthesis. That is, the formation and activity of fibroblasts (skin cells that produce elastin and collagen) are inhibited. Hydrocortisone is specifically localized in fibroblasts, causing morphological variations, delaying and slowing down the formation of elastic and collagen fibers, such as the construction of granulation tissue.

Decreases the tensile strength of the fabric.

The lower nutritional and energy intake reduces the metabolism and mitosis of the germinal layer, which causes a thinned epidermis with moderate sinking in the stretch mark area.

On the other hand, mineralocorticoid hyperfunction causes some edema in the dermis and laxity of all skin tissue (due to increased sodium retention and greater calcium excretion).

In summary, and relating all these effects, we observe that a decrease in proteosynthesis in fibroblasts, whose metabolism is slowed by a decrease in energy capacity, causes indentations in precise locations as bloodless wounds that create a certain vacuum in the dermis by retraction of all its components and which also affects the epidermis that is in contact with the dermal area.

Visibly Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks Causes and treatments 2024

With the loss of fibroprotein elements of the tissue, elasticity is lost and, with this, a potential situation of breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers is created in the dermis, producing a biochemical degeneration of the elastic material, which is transformed into elacin (atrophic matter which tends to clump along the edge of the grooves).

At the same time, the lower nutritional and energy intake reduces the metabolism and mitosis of the germinal layer, which causes a thinned epidermis with moderate sagging in the stretch mark area. The color changes are due precisely to the modifications that the epidermal stratum corneum undergoes, since it loses opacity and leaves the vascular, conjunctival and even subcutaneous fabric partially visible.


As is known, stretch marks occur during physiological states in which there is an increase in the production of endogenous estrogens for a relatively short period of time (pregnancy, puberty, weight gain, cellulite) or in those physiological states in which estrogens they are ingested orally in the form of medications (contraceptives). Estrogens produce:

Increased retention of the water and saline content of the tissue itself, producing a greater volume of this tissue and increasing tension.

Tendency to weaken the supporting structures, that is, the intra and extravasal elastin and collagen fibers.

Precisely, this action produced by estrogens is responsible for the reddish coloration of recent stretch marks, which is produced by the exudation of plasma substance due to a weakened microcirculation at the structural level (a phenomenon known as “exudation without rupture”).

Remember that estrogens stimulate the production of cortisone, enhancing the damaging action of hormones in the adrenal gland.

The increase in steroid derivatives is typical of Cushing’s syndrome (increases the activity of the adrenal gland), in corticosteroid therapy or sustained steroid therapy, both general and local (frequent-abusive use of topical preparations with corticosteroids), puberty or adolescence ( pubertal stretch marks), cellulite and during pregnancy (pregnancy stretch marks), circumstances in which the appearance of stretch marks is more frequent.

Mechanical factors

Stretch marks triggering agents are all those exogenous and endogenous factors that cause a relatively long-lasting distension of the skin tissue.

There is a distention of the skin as a result of the increase of the underlying tissue (adipose and connective tissue in the case of pregnancy, obesity and cellulite, and muscle tissue in the case of athletes and people who support heavy weights).

The risk factor is the state of the dermis (the worse it is, the greater the likelihood of stretch marks on the skin).

Neurophysiological factors. Stress

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system is one of those interested in stress and is in charge of providing metabolic support to behavior. Its response is slower, but more persistent than that of the sympathetic-medullary adrenal system.

At the somatic level, the two systems act in synergy to optimize the adaptive response. This observation makes us intuit why this system plays a role that is not exactly secondary in the genesis of unlocking, especially during puberty and pregnancy. Both physiological states are characterized by a sudden and accelerated modification of the corporeal image, with a series of mental implications and experiences that surely generate anxiety.

All these circumstances are the cause of the consequent generalized thinning of the connective tissue and the epidermis, characteristic of the area where there are stretch marks.


From the anatomicopathological point of view, stretch marks can be defined as degenerative lesions of the dermis with a particular location: they acquire a radial shape on the sinuses in the direction of the areola, vertical and oblique on the flanks of the chest, arms, calves, thighs. , buttocks and hips and even transverse in the back caused by tension of the underlying tissue.

  • All striae have the same macroscopic characteristics:
  • Rectilinear, curvilinear, sinuous or zigzag shape.
  • Length of 1-2 cm by a few mm wide, but can reach 5 cm long by 1 cm wide.

The color varies according to the period of establishment: the reddish ones are more frequent and the pearly-white ones can take years established.

The distribution is determined by the direction in which the greatest skin pressure is exerted. The orientation of the demesh is perpendicular to the “traction lines”, often arranged in parallel or assuming the appearance of “halo”.

Its surface is smooth or slightly irregular and the epidermis is reduced, it is thinned, being constituted only by a kind of cellular agglomeration, it lacks elasticity and it is deprived of vascularization.

In its evolution two phases can be distinguished: inflammatory and scarring.

Inflammatory phase

It is a recent streak, papular, erythematous, slightly violaceous or purple and sometimes itchy, with a soft consistency.

Scar phase

They are late stretch marks and the lesion evolves towards its final appearance. The atrophy begins in the center of the stria and spreads in a centrifugal fashion, producing a central depression along the stria.

The epidermis thins and the coloration evolves towards pearly white, like scars. Sometimes the stretch mark can become pigmented.

On palpation, it lies in a dermal void between two resistant shores. The stretch mark loses its elasticity, is soft and depressed. At its level there is no hair, no sebaceous or sweat secretion.

Evolutionary histology

Graphically, stretch marks are a tear in the dermis because it does not have enough elasticity to support a variation in the volume of the underlying tissues. Striated collagen and elastin fibers are seen, with a great propensity to open or tear.

The epidermis is thinner and atrophic, melanocytes are rare, and the dermoepidermal junction is flattened. The dermis suffers the main anomalies and the altered collagen fibers are abnormally oriented, parallel to the basal lamina. The collagen bundles are twisted at the edges of the groove; elastic fibers are less numerous and fragmented.

In a first level, when the stretch marks are barely one year old, the connective tissue meshes are torn, the loss of elasticity and compactness precisely causes the wound and allows the exudation to form. Stretch marks appear reddish in appearance and are still vascularized. With a recently ruptured dermis and elastic fibers, the blood capillaries supplying them are swollen. There is still no internal scar (first, second and third phases of the biological process, described later).

In short, the space that remains available is filled with blood matter. Here the regeneration process begins, with a double possibility in the repair of connective tissue:

Healing by first intention. It allows a regeneration of vessels, cells, intercellular matrix, etc., which makes the tissue return to its original state.

The second healing will lead to the formation of the scar, generating what is known as a stretch mark.

In a second level, of greater gravity, the capillaries are blocked and a fibrous tissue is formed. It is the fourth and last phase of the biological process.

First phase

Invasion of empty spaces by plasma, granulocytes, macrophages, and fibrin.

Second stage

Epithelial cells and fibroblasts begin to advance in fibrin and actively proliferate. Thin cellular bridges are formed that join the opposite edges of those areas where, due to the rupture of the connective fabric, empty spaces delimited by edges of intact tissue have been created.

Third phase

Endothelial cells proliferate and form resistant cellular cords that, when they meet those coming from the opposite side, are channeled forming a new network of capillaries, which originates a system of blood and lymphatic vessels whose mission is to favor the drainage of the abundant exudative lymph.

When regeneration affects the skin, on top of the recently formed connective tissue, the cutaneous epithelium is regenerated, which will form a new epidermal layer without regenerating the differentiated elements such as the sweat glands and the pilosebaceous systems.

The new tissue is in turn called granular, because it has a rough surface and acquires an exaggerated development as a result of excessive stimulation. In principle, it manifests in a pinkish or bright red tone due to vascularization, which later changes as the tissue itself evolves.

Fourth phase

The granular tissue gradually becomes dense fibrous connective, due to a neoformation of collagen fibers that begins early as a response to a complicated process.

The new tissue is invaded by collagen, where newly formed cells and vessels undergo a series of oppressions. Various proteolytic enzymes facilitate the hydrolyzation of fibrin and the remains of dead cells, leukocytes.

As the number of cells is reduced, leukocytes and macrophages completely disappear, fibroblasts also decrease, while blood capillaries undergo a process of atrophy and disappear immediately.

After these changes in structure, the granular tissue gradually loses its original characteristics and its color fades more and more as a consequence of the disappearance of the vessels.

The surface will appear pinkish-pale and the granular tissue will have turned into scar tissue, which will compensate for the loss of tissue that will have occurred and will gradually shrink.

Pharmacological and dermocosmetic treatment

Both pharmacological and dermo-cosmetic treatments are not very effective in eliminating atrophic stretch marks, so the best that can be done is to prevent them. However, despite the difficulty, striated tissue can be improved with products of trophic stimulating, bioactivating and moisturizing action.

In principle, it is very important to study the cause that produces stretch marks and to correct the factors that influence their formation. The results will depend, on the one hand, on the age of the stretch mark, its dimensions, its characteristics and whether it retains a pinkish tone (sign of vascularization and greater probability of success); on the other hand, it is important to make a correct choice of active products based on their action.

Given the etiology of stretch marks, hydrating the skin is not enough. This must acquire sufficient elasticity properties to withstand the mechanical factor that is caused by stretching that accompanies certain physiological states, especially in pregnancy.

There are commercialized preparations that contain substances capable of stimulating fibroblast activity and favoring the formation of elastic and collagen fibers.

In inflammatory phase (red and bluish streaks)

A good result can be obtained with appropriate treatment, as long as the weight and volume are returned to normal.

In this first inflammatory phase, stretch marks improve with a drug treatment based on a 3% solution of indomethacin in absolute alcohol.

The application of products that stimulate the formation of glycosaminoglycans in collagen and elastin fibers is recommended, activating tissue regeneration, providing active repairing ingredients that will replace altered structures and improve oxygenation and hydration of the tissue.

Both pharmacological and dermo-cosmetic treatments are not very effective in eliminating atrophic stretch marks, so the best thing to do is prevent them

Visibly Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks Causes and treatments 2024

  • The anti-stretch mark products recommended in this phase are those that contain the following substances:
  • Hydrolyzed collagen and elastin . Improves the consistency and elasticity of the fabric.
  • Asiatosides . Coming from gotu kola extract, they improve the appearance and evolution of stretch marks.
  • Hyaluronic acid . Improves hydration and oxygenation of the dermis.
  • Placental extracts . Stimulates metabolism and cellular respiration, favoring the regeneration of injured tissues.
  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and wheat germ oil . They exert a regenerative, protective and moisturizing activity at the dermoepidermal level.

Protein and nucleic lysates . The former are amino acids such as glycine, which retain the ability of cysteine ​​and tremoin, which have the ability to stimulate repair of altered tissues). Among the latter we can mention phytostimulin and equinacin B.

A better result is obtained with the combination of several of the aforementioned active principles, conveyed in fatty substances that ensure a double action: rehydrating and preventive.

The manipulations will focus on the reddish affected areas and will alternate with the application of anti-stretch mark creams through connective tissue massage.

In the scar phase

There is no effective clinical treatment to eliminate stretch marks once they have formed, especially if they are in their scarring phase.

The possibility of reconstructing fibrous connective tissue using only dermo-cosmetic products is somewhat difficult, which is why it is advisable to use equipment and medical treatments that provide a synergistic response to the treatments. Among them, the following stand out:

In whitish chronic lesions, topical retinoids and glycolic acid or another alpha hydroxy acid have been partially effective. Classically, creams with gotu kola are used, but with poorly oriented results.

Many studies show that treatment with tretinoin in combination with other dermal stimulating agents achieves better results than using these stimulants alone.

The radiation with IR (infrared) laser acts in depth, supplying energy to the cells and favoring the balance, as well as the reconstruction of the tissue.

The advantageous use of the He-Ne laser treats the striatum in its reconstruction phase of the epithelial tissue, acting superficially. Its energy is selectively supplied to the cells of the stratum basalis. It facilitates the penetration of substances for topical use, since it activates blood circulation.

 Laser treatment associated with topical products is less aggressive than surgical treatments and offers promising results. One of the most used products in combination with lasers is treti noin. In combination with lasers, substances such as cinnamon extract, algae and essential oils are also used, as well as zinc and copper (trace elements that remove toxins from the skin and promote regeneration).

Soft peels and surgical treatments have been tried . Dermabrasion of abdominal stretch marks does not make the stretch mark completely disappear, but it does improve the aesthetic appearance and the tone of the abdominal skin.

Dermabrasion plus mesotherapy with drugs that stimulate fibroblast activity (highly polarized DNA and embryonic extracts) and the topical application of retinoic acid provide better results, but not the total disappearance of stretch marks.

Preventive treatment

Stretch marks require preventive treatment, whatever the reason for their appearance (pregnancy, exercise, weight gain or loss, cellulite). Once formed, they no longer have a remedy, although it can be achieved in some cases that they are less visible.

Given the etiology, the preventive treatment of the appearance of stretch marks should be aimed at maintaining and improving the dermal structure, in order to achieve a dermis with sufficient elastic capacity to resist the skin stretching produced by the increased volume of the tissues. underlying, and also capable of resisting the influence of the high hormonal component to which it can be subjected in certain stages of a person’s life.

Topical products serve both to prevent stretch marks and to slow down their development. And as important as its use is the way it is applied, since these products will not be effective without proper use.

A light but prolonged massage should be carried out, as this contributes to increasing local microcirculation, thus producing an increase in the contribution of plastic and water elements that the body itself cannot provide. In this way, the chances of stretch marks are reduced.

Visibly Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks Causes and treatments 2024

The excipient of the anti-stretch mark product should delay absorption, since the faster it is, the sooner the massage will stop, which will not achieve the beneficial effects.

Another tip to prevent stretch marks is to activate blood circulation with massage and physical exercise, avoiding excessive exposure to the sun and swimming in pools, as they dry out the skin or alter it with strong elements such as chlorine.

During pregnancy, a specific product should be used to prevent the formation of stretch marks, which in 90% of cases (it is clinically proven) has managed to prevent their formation. This fact is not surprising, since the pregnant woman is aware of the risks that her condition entails and, therefore, not only takes care of her health but also her aesthetics.

It is not enough to apply any epidermal moisturizer to prevent the appearance of stretch marks; it all depends on the resistance to the hormonal factor and the stretching to which we alluded when discussing the etiology of stretch marks.

As it is not possible to predict how each skin will behave in pregnancy, the appearance of stretch marks must be prevented by trying to ensure that the skin is in the best condition to resist the two triggers.

Products for the prevention of stretch marks can have in their composition stimulants of fibroblastic activity, nourishing elements and moisturizing and regenerating creams.

Fibroblast activity stimulants

To improve the elastic capacity of the dermis, fibroblasts must be stimulated so that they synthesize the macromolecules that make up the dermal extracellular matrix.

Products for the prevention of stretch marks can have in their composition stimulants of

fibroblastic activity, nourishing elements and moisturizing and regenerating creams.

Most of the specific anti-stretch mark preparations from dermopharmaceutical laboratories contain the following substances in their composition:

Asiatosides . They are active principles found in the extract of gotu kola. These substances have a triterpenic structure, stimulating mitosis and with biostimulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-varicose, anti-cellulite and healing accelerator properties. The mechanism of action is through the stimulation of fibroblast proliferation and the production of collagen and elastin fibers. Asiatoside produces an antagonistic effect on corticosteroids (due to its similar structure to steroids).

Thymus extract . It has similar effects to the extract of gotu kola.

Vegetable oils . They have a stimulating capacity due to their retinoic acid content, like that of rosehip.

In any case, the use of cellular stimulants requires a tight and constant definition of the ideal concentration at which they should be used, since their activity is dose-dependent (it does not work at low doses). Its activity increases with the dose until it reaches an optimal dose, from which it begins to decrease until it produces inverse effects to those desired. The dose-activity curve must be defined to ensure that the chosen concentration is really effective and safe (it has been shown in several studies that qualitatively similar formulations present very different results).

Nutritive elements

If it is intended to stimulate the synthesis of elastin and collagen, it is necessary to associate a hydrolyzed collagen with a fibroblast stimulant, so that it can develop the action without any type of limitation, providing the amino acids necessary for its endogenous synthesis (elastin and , above all, collagen has a very specific aminogram, so the contribution of amino acids in the appropriate proportions to synthesize them will facilitate their synthesis). In its composition there must be a high proportion of proline and hydroxyproline, which are the amino acids most susceptible to being attacked by free radicals:

Hydrolyzed collagen and elastin . As a contribution of plastic elements.

Wheat germ oil. It is rich in vitamin E and helps in the use of oxygen in the metabolic process, protecting proteins from the negative action of free radicals.

Moisturizing and regenerating creams

Moisturizing and regenerating creams do not erase stretch marks, but they provide the skin with elasticity and moisture, essential elements to prevent its growth and deepening. *

Although many people have them, it is not something that people tend to display with pride. That’s why when model Chrissy Teigen posted a photo of her thigh stretch marks on Twitter, she caused a stir on social media.

  • ” They’re so soft, ” said Teigen, who also wrote that she liked the pattern the stretch marks formed on her skin.
  • Some women refer to this pattern in English as tiger stripes .
  • Stretch marks are visible marks or lines on the skin, usually long and fine , that occur when the skin is stretched rapidly, such as during rapid weight gain, causing the elastic fibers to break.
  • “This is a collagen breakdown that is visible on the surface of the skin,” described Dr Sweta Rai of the British Association of Dermatologists.
  • Initially they are usually red or purple , but over time they tend to fade towards a white – silver tone .
  • Here we tell you seven aspects of stretch marks that you may not know about.

1. Men have them too

Although stretch marks tend to affect women mostly, men can develop them too .

Sometimes, particularly in the case of adolescents, stretch marks appear on the back, covering the spine in horizontal lines.

Among those who practice bodybuilding they usually appear on the shoulders.

2. They can go anywhere, even on the face

Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body where the skin has been stretched, but they are most common in areas that tend to store fat, such as the abdomen, chest, upper arms, buttocks, and thighs.

There is a specific type of stretch marks that are caused by Cushing’s Syndrome , a rare disease due to an elevated blood level of a hormone called cortisol. In this case, the marks are usually wider and larger, and can appear on the face.

3. They don’t just go out with the pregnancy

Stretch marks appear when the skin is stretched a lot in a short time , so they can appear in adolescence during rapid growth spurts , as well as during rapid weight gain and, of course, during the aforementioned pregnancy .

4. But they don’t go out with all pregnancies

The likelihood of a pregnant woman getting stretch marks depends to some extent on genetic factors , but also on how much her belly grows.

Mothers who have a multiple pregnancy are more likely to appear.

They are not an inevitable consequence of pregnancy but they are very common : they affect 90% of pregnant women.

5. There is no evidence that they can be prevented

Although there are many products on the market that claim they can prevent the appearance of stretch marks, there is very little scientific evidence about their effectiveness.

Moisturizers cannot prevent collagen breakdown, so they cannot prevent stretch marks. But they can make skin look and feel smoother and softer.

Avoiding what is known in English as yo-yo dieting , that is, cycles of rapid weight gain and loss can help prevent them from appearing.

6. Some disappear and others can be treated

Over time, most stretch marks tend to fade and some disappear completely . But that process usually takes more than a year.

The creams, lotions and gels on the market are unlikely to make stretch marks fade any more than they naturally would over time.

If stretch marks are a problem, there are some dermatological treatments available, but they are not usually covered by public health services because they are considered a cosmetic issue. There is also not much evidence that the treatments work.

Laser therapy cannot completely remove stretch marks, but it can help reduce stretch marks and make them less noticeable. Laser treatments vary depending on the maturity of the stretch mark and skin type .

There are also people who undergo cosmetic surgery to reduce stretch marks.

7. They can have a great emotional impact

Some experts recommend not trivializing these types of dermatological conditions as stretch marks can have a lasting psychological or emotional impact for some people .

There are those who can feel self-conscious, socially isolated, develop low self-esteem and other problems related to body image because of these marks on the skin.

Some may feel particularly vulnerable in social situations where stretch marks are seen, such as at the pool or the beach or at the beginning of a new intimate relationship.

How do I make my stretch marks look less visible?

Some people find that sunless self-tanners can help cover up stretch marks. …
Try using body makeup matched to your skin tone to cover stretch marks. Wear board shorts or rash guards.

Can stretch marks appear and disappear?

Stretch marks are very common, but the appearance may be lessened by using self-tanners, makeup, ointments, or surgical treatment. Sometimes when the cause of the stretching is no longer a factor, stretch marks will disappear, but in most cases, over time, they fade to a less noticeable scar

What reduces the appearance of red stretch marks?

Retinoid creams. One study found that just as much as 0.1 percent retinoid can reduce the appearance of red stretch marks.
Light and laser therapies. These procedures work by using rapid pulses of light to destroy skin cells at the surface. …
Microdermabrasion. …
Chemical peels.

How can you remove stretch marks?

Home remedies to treat stretch marks
Argan oil. Vitamin E enriched Argan oil increases the elasticity of the skin and rubbing it on the stretch marks might heal the broken tissues gradually making the marks fade.
Lemon juice. …
Egg white. …
Potato juice. …
Olive oil. …
Sugar. …
Castor oil. …
Aloe vera gel.

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