Written by Debra Wyatt (last updated April 13, 2022)
Stretch marks ("striae") are usually found on the hips, abdomen, and breasts. The stretch marks appear when the skin has been stretched. (Makes sense, doesn't it?) This usually occurs for various reasons such as pregnancy, puberty, excessive weight gain, or bulking up too quickly from lifting weights. After the skin has been stretched, it begins to tear. This occurs because the skin has lost the elastin and collagen it normally contains. So, now stretch marks are formed. When they first appear they are usually dark or discolored lines that with time turn to a silvery white.
There are several different ways of treating stretch marks. The marks will never go away completely, but with time and treatment they will fade. Different types of treatment would be doing a cosmetic procedure such as having laser treatments, chemical peels, or injections. These types of procedures are costly.
The easiest and most cost effective way is to use an over-the-counter stretch-mark cream. You can purchase over-the-counter creams for as low as $20 and up to $40. When I checked out some of the different types of over-the-counter stretch mark creams I came across Mederma that cost about $40 even though it costs more, you do not have to apply it as often as the lower-cost creams such as the store brand. One of the differences that was visible from reading the instructions on the box of Mederma states to apply only twice a day, while the box on the store brand states to apply the cream at least three times a day preferably four time. The creams can help the stretch marks to appear softer and smoother, which makes them less noticeable.
Most over-the-counter creams contain ingredients such as cocoa butter, along with vitamins A and E. These vitamins and the cocoa butter help to promote healthy skin and help to improve the skin's appearance.
Using creams will take time and patience. If you use the cream morning and night you should begin to notice a difference in about four weeks. After twelve weeks there should be a visible difference. As with any therapy the closer you stick to the routine the better the results will be.
Unfortunately, older stretch marks will not respond as well as newly formed stretch marks. Stretch marks that have turned silvery white will take more time and will not have the same results with an over-the-counter cream.
Remember that the marks will never completely go away, and one can also claim the marks as a badge of honor. As the trainer on The Biggest Loser Jillian Michaels said "They are from a time in my life when I was heavy, unhealthy, and unhappy... They serve as a reminder of where you were and where you are now."
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