What Causes Stretch Marks to Appear?
The answer to the question, "how do you get stretch marks" is a fairly simple one. Skin doesn't always bounce back if it's been stretched by pregnancy, growth spurts, or rapid weight gain. Instead, it becomes decorated by stretch marks, which occur in the elastic middle layer of the dermis and allow rapidly expanding skin to retain its shape. Both men and women alike can develop stretch marks on any area of the body undergoing rapid changes -- including the abdomen, thighs, hips, buttocks, breasts, upper arms, and lower back.
Rapid skin growth for whatever reason is what causes stretch marks, because it does not always allow time for the production of adequate collagen and elastin. These major building blocks determine tone, texture and thickness of new skin. Thinner, more fragile strips of newly developed skin; usually red or purple in color; are produced in place of normal skin, and fade to paler than normal skin color over time.
As you can guess, answering the question of 'how do you get stretch marks' is not as essential as treating them once they start to appear. No matter what stage of their development, stretch marks remain difficult to hide and virtually impossible to eliminate.
Many cosmetics companies promote products that claim to get rid of stretch marks; even though 90% of those products are completely worthless. Despite deceptive advertising and inaccurate explanations regarding what causes stretch marks, there are many treatments that may indeed reduce the appearance of stretch marks. You can even create your own remedies at home with inexpensive natural ingredients that are readily available. Here's a list of common ingredients used in commercial and natural stretch mark removal remedies.
Wheat germ oil: Not much scientific data exists regarding whether stretch mark remedies such as wheat germ oil are effective. However, more recent studies have demonstrated improvement with the early appearance of stretch marks with the regular application of wheat germ oil. Is it a "cure all" for stretch marks? Not in the least, but it is something for you to consider early on.
Glycolic acid: With a sterling reputation for its rejuvenation powers, glycolic acid in stretch mark removal products can reduce the appearance of stretch marks through increased collagen production. Glycolic acid can also be administered in higher doses by a dermatologist. The cost of glycolic acid treatments is approximately $100 per session, with three or four sessions required to obtain visible results. You can make your own glycolic acid treatment at home by combining a cup of sugar with any type of skin care lotion or moisturizer. I'd advise a stretch cream of some sort.
Vitamin C: Dietary supplements of vitamin C may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of stretch marks by increasing collagen production and reducing the appearance of early-stage stretch marks. For maximum effect in a topical stretch mark removal cream, combine several crushed vitamin C tablets and an cup of granulated sugar with your favorite body lotion or moisturizer.
Peptides & Retinoids: Products containing peptides are widely marketed as effective stretch mark creams. While peptides are beneficial for skin care and rejuvenation, there is little proof that they are highly effective in reducing the appearance of stretch marks. What does this mean? Well, it means they "could" work, but that they haven't been clinically proven to work.
Retinoid derivatives of vitamin A have been proven to increase the production of collagen and elastin, and are the active ingredients in many over-the-counter and prescription strength products. However, the use of retinoids should be avoided during pregnancy or while nursing a baby.
Retinoids AND Glycolic Acid: Using retinoids in combination with glycolic acid may provide better results than using remedies separately. While the effectiveness of glycolic acid alone for stretch mark treatment has not been determined in stand alone clinical trials, a trial combination of glycolic acid/tretinoin product with glycolic acid/vitamin C product demonstrated a decrease in the appearance of stretch marks, and an increase in the elasticity of skin after 12 weeks of treatment. If you found that mumbo-jumbo hard to understand, here's the simple version: Retinoids combined with glycolic acid has proven effective for treating stretch marks.