The ability to prevent stretch marks is of critical importance to many people. Everyone aspires to look great, have a great body and be in good health. One of the conditions, however, that can often restrict us to enjoy our lives to the fullest is the presence of stretch marks.
Yes, preventing, treating and even successfully removing your stretch marks is possible.
By following some simple choices you can make a great difference in never having to worry about stretch marks such as:
- Make use of cosmetic products to keep your skin healthy and resilient to stretch marks
- Have a healthy diet with important vitamins and minerals to nourish your skin
- Make sure you manage your weight to avoid sudden gain or loss of weight to result in stretch marks
This article explores how stretch marks can be prevented. It looks at different products and activities which are simple, affordable and above all accessible to all of us.
How Exactly Stretch Marks Appear?
According to Dr Nick Lowe, a dermatologist and a member of the British Association of Dermatologists, stretch marks are caused by weight loss and gain, rapid growth, major changes in hormones as the body goes through different stages of pregnancy and puberty (Source).
Dr Lowe adds that genetics also play a role. He argues that there are women who, despite going through a successful pregnancy or adding weight drastically never get stretch marks.
Although no strong evidence is available to support this claim, dermatologists believe that genetics has something to do with stretch marks, otherwise holding all the other factors constant, the problem would affect all who are exposed to similar causes.
There are also some medical conditions that are known to trigger the appearance of stretch marks.
Cushing’s syndrome and Marfan syndrome weaken the connective fibres of the skin leading to loss of elasticity and limiting its ability to stretch.
When the connective fibres are subjected to pressure they have no capacity to expand leading to stretch marks developing. These two conditions lead to the development of stretch marks specifically on the lower back, shoulders and hips.
Where do stretch marks appear the most?
- Lower and upper arms
- Lower legs
Can Stretch Marks Be Prevented?
There has been a raging debate whether it is possible to prevent stretch marks.
- Some experts argue that stretch marks can be avoided but also add that stretch marks due to pregnancy, puberty or genetics may not be prevented.
- Others argue that all types of stretch marks can be prevented when the cause is known and all efforts geared towards addressing the root problem.
In a book called Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone: Megavitamin Therapeutics for Families by Abram Hoffer and Andrew Saul, nutritional supplements can play a big role in avoiding stretch marks.
The duo argue that prevention of stretch marks revolves around collagen levels. When the body is provided with nutrients which keep the recommended levels of this hormone, the issue of stretch marks will not occur.
Other look at it from a perspective of eating a balanced diet, this will provide the body with the nutrients required to keep the skin healthy, moisturized and smooth.
Diet and weight management are also featured in the prevention of stretch marks, given that they appear as the skin tries to expand in the process of creating space for more mass underneath it.
Avoiding practices which lead to additional weight can go a long way in preventing them. Let us have a detailed review of how the above mentioned can help in avoiding stretch marks.
Read: How To Prevent Stretch Marks With These Simple Steps
Foods And Vitamins To Prevent Stretch Marks
There is a popular saying that our bodies are what we eat. If you give your body the right kind of food it will respond positively.
This is how the appearance of stretch marks can be prevented through feeding our bodies with the right nutrients.
Abram Hoffer and Andrew Saul agree with this statement and in their book they have stressed the importance of vitamins and minerals in ensuring healthy skin.
Nourishing the skin tops the list as far as ensuring that stretch marks are avoided.
Experts argue that well nourished skin will produce enough collagen to help the skin to expand without damaging the connective tissues when there is pressure from the inside.
Eating foods which are rich in vitamins A, C and E can be the first step towards avoiding stretch marks. These three vitamins play a great role in ensuring a healthy skin.
Vitamin A helps with skin regeneration
Vitamin A is known to protect the skin from damage through encouraging the regeneration of new skin tissue.
When we take Vitamin A in the right quantities our skin will be healthy, well moisturised and have the capacity to withstand pressure when we gain weight or during the rapid growth associated with adolescence and pregnancy.
Good sources of Vitamin A are fruits and vegetables such as:
Vitamins are very sensitive to heat. To get the best out of these foods, it is important to take into consideration the preparatory process.
Steaming vegetables preserves the nutrients and give an individual the required amount to keep the skin healthy.
Fruits should be appropriately stored for freshness. They should not be heated, implying that fruits in cooked desserts do not provide the same nutritional value.
Food supplements also provide simple and convenient alternative to vegetables and fruits.
They come packaged with the right amount of nutrients required by the body. It is important to consult your doctor before taking food supplements, you may be taking them yet the kinds of foods that you eat are giving you the required amount.
You do not want to get complications from excessive intake of nutrients but emphasise on a balanced approach to prevent the appearance of stretch marks.
Vitamin E contributes to a healthy skin
Vitamin E also plays an important part in ensuring a healthy skin. It helps the body repair damaged skin.
Stretch marks occur due to the skin’s inability to expand as the mass beneath it exerts pressure. Any nutrient which helps the skin to expand without damage will help avoiding stretch marks.
Vitamin E is also known to strengthen the skin tissue as well as improve its elasticity. Vitamin E consumption will also improve the fine lines which are formed as the skin stretches.
This will also help the epidermis act as a barrier against moisture loss, helping the skin to stay hydrated and healthy.
Vitamin E sources include:
The role Vitamin E plays in ensuring healthy and well nourished skin helps in the prevention of stretch marks. Pregnant women are advised to eat foods which are rich in vitamin E to support the prevention of stretch marks.
For those who have problems getting the required amount of vitamin E, supplements are available but they should be taken with caution especially during pregnancy.
Vitamin C supports new cell production
Just like Vitamin A and E, vitamin C is good for the skin.
It helps in protecting it from breakage and to maintain its appearance.
It also helps the body to produce new cells making it an ideal nutrient for those who may have developed stretch marks but want to prevent escalation of the problem.
Water is the essence of a healthy skin
Drinking enough water also contributes towards maintenance of well moisturised skin.
It is recommended that on average, one should drink a minimum of eight glasses of water. If you are drinking less than this or your body is not well hydrated and there will be a higher chance of developing stretch marks especially during pregnancy and rapid weight gain.
Water, apart from helping to hydrate the cells also gets rid of body’s waste through sweating. It should be regularly replenished to ensure that the cells are well hydrated and the skin is moisturised.
This will allow the skin tissues to expand without damage when the body increases in size or as pregnancy progresses.
Victor Preddy in his Handbook Of Diet, Nutrition and Skin, states that the consumption of foods rich in these vitamins and minerals as well as consumption of the recommended daily intake of water, will help in preventing stretch marks as well as other skin problems such as wrinkles.
Read: 39 Foods And Vitamins To Help You Avoid Stretch Marks
Preventing Stretch Marks With Cosmetics
Prevention is the best cure.
There have been arguments that cosmetic products play a small role in preventing as well as curing stretch marks. While this statement may hold some truth, given that most of these products are applied externally and stretch marks are internal, a cosmetic product has everything to do with the appearance of the skin and its capacity to withstand pressure from the outside.
Applying creams, gels and lotions help in keeping the skin moisturised, smooth and improve its appearance. The cosmetic products will help reducing the development and appearance of stretch marks.
The use of cosmetic products is recommended during pregnancy to avoid the appearance and reduce the intensity of existing marks.
What cosmetic products are best for preventing the appearance of stretch marks:
- Hydrant creams
- Centella Asiatica extracts
- Verum products
- Hyaluronic acid and dexpanthenol creams
- Glycolic acod producs
- Oil products
Hydrant creams helps with maintaining the right level of moisture
Hydrant creams rank highly among the cosmetic products which are claimed to prevent stretch marks in pregnancy.
General understanding is that with proper hydration there is likelihood that the skin will be protected from damaging.
Use of creams help in maintaining the required levels of moisture in the outer layer of the skin, preventing scarring and damage.
Studies which have been conducted on the effectiveness of the hydrant creams in the prevention of stretch marks are yet to provide sufficient scientific evidence.
Dermatologists call for further research on the area more so touching on the efficacy as well as the safety of creams when it comes to prevention of the stretch marks.
Centella Asiatica extracts is effective in stretch mark prevention during pregnancy
A study conducted by Mallol Belda to establish the effectiveness of a cream which has centella asiatica extracts as well as vitamin E and collagen hydrolysates found that 56 percent of women were able to prevent the development of stretch marks during pregnancy.
According to the finding of the study, products which contain centella asiatica as an active component may perform well in the prevention of stretch marks.
The actual mechanism which was attributed in the success is the stimulation of fibroblastic activities as well as the antagonistic effects linked to glucocorticioids.
Read: Gotu Kola For Stretch Marks
Products containing Verum have shown proven results
Products containing Verum as an active component can also assist in avoiding stretch marks.
A study conducted by Wierrani, Kozak and Schuramm including fifty women concluded that the product may be helpful in the prevention of stretch marks.
It is important to be mentioned that the study was carried out in 1992 and therefore the findings need to be used with caution. There are a range of new treatments which have been introduced and which could have greater effectiveness since then.
Hyaluronic acid and dexpanthenol cream promote collage production
Another cream which listed its ingredients as Vitamin A and E, hyaluronic acid and dexpanthenol was tested for its efficacy and ability to give rise to fibroblast activity as well as collagen production.
As already discussed, collagen plays an essential role in skin elasticity and potential prevention of stretch marks.
A study conducted by Elsai, Baumann and Elsaaiee found that it markedly decreased the intensity of stretch marks.
The study found that the cream can to some extent help in reducing the escalation of the marks, but there is no evidence pointing to its capacity to prevent their development in people who have not yet experienced them.
Pregnant women who have not reached the second and third trimesters, the stages which are mostly associated with increased intensity of stretched skin, may need a product which is more relevant to preventing than reducing their occurrence.
Glycolic acid products increase skin elasticity
Use of components such as Glycolic acid have been reported to effectively boost the levels of collagen in the body and its capacity to increase the skin fibre’s elasticity.
Experts recommend caution given that no scientific evidence exists as far as its efficacy in prevention of stretch marks as well as the safety to its users.
Oil products are most commonly used to prevent stretch marks
Oil products are recommended as one of the most effective in preventing stretch marks. The underlying logic as far as the use of these oils is concerned is in their ability to keep the skin moisturized.
Some good oil products contain extracts from:
- sweet almond
- wheat germ
- castor oils
Always use safe products
When selecting a cosmetic product to prevent stretch marks from developing, it is always advisable to think about safety. Some products on the market are purported to give the best outcomes but they are riddled with chemicals which can harm your body.
Read the instructions carefully and also know the ingredients of a product before using it. When in doubt seek advice from experts.
It is better to put up with stretch marks which cause no physical harm than use products which may have dangerous or carcinogenic ingredients and then live to regret their use.
Establish the effectiveness of the products you use by researching credible resources online and by asking people who have used it before.
It may also help to check whether the product has been given a green light by the respective authority, for example checking whether it has been authorized for sale and use by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
Weigh Management To Prevent Stretch Marks
One of the main culprits as far as development of stretch marks is concerned is weight gain and loss.
Pregnant women experience these marks due to extra kilos and growth of the foetus. Sudden growth and weight gain in adults leads to development of the stretched skin, the same case with adolescents.
Experts suggest that if we control weight gain, a majority of the people who experience the development of stretch marks would not face the problem.
Putting on weight leads to your skin to expand to contain the sudden pressure.
For example, many weight lifters and body builders are also known to develop stretch marks especially when they gain muscle rapidly.
Weight management and dieting can give the best results as far as prevention is concerned. To people who have already developed the marks, checking on weight can help in reducing the escalation of the scars that seriously affect many people psychologically.
There are many sources which suggest ‘miracle’ solutions for weight management but the truth is that you must give up unhealthy lifestyle habits. Healthy dieting requires discipline, commitment and dedication.
Before embarking on a weight reduction journey, it is important to establish your health status. Establish your health status and also have your baseline indicators taken to keep track of your progress.
This means that your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, amount of calories needed to be shed to achieve the optimal level of weight reduction needs to be established, and also tracked.
In order to reduce your weight, a reduction in the amount of carbs eaten is mandatory.
The trick with weight loss is eating less and using more calories. This means that the amount of calories gained should be less than what is lost on a daily basis.
Weight management calls for a change in lifestyle, if you have been leading a sedentary life; it is high time you engaged in activities that will lead to use up of calories.
You should adopt a program which can be sustained. Do not go for something which you cannot cope with as falling out of a weight management programme can lead to a gain. Something which will surely reduce your ability to prevent the appearance of stretch marks.
You need to closely monitor your body mass index (BMI) to ensure that it is within the required levels. A good place where you can check this is here.
Read: 39 Foods And Vitamins To Help You Avoid Stretch Marks
Preventing stretch marks is an effort, one that requires sound decision making, safety, efficacy and effectiveness of a strategy need to be explored before adoption.
Use of cosmetic products and food supplements need to be carefully considered. Make sure you research the topic well and find as much information as possible to find the best products for your situation. It is also advisable to consider a consultation and opinion of a medical practitioner.
Pregnant and lactating mothers need to be cautious when adopting any stretch marks prevention method. The health and survival of your baby is always a priority.
General wellbeing of an individual also needs to be considered. You should move to preventing stretch marks using a given method, yet the health condition does not allow, it is better living with stretch marks than getting complications which cannot be reversed.
Also natural methods should be given precedence; others come in to enhance the prevention process.
Q: Is it possible to prevent stretch marks?
A: Yes, preventing stretch marks is possible with the necessary care, cosmetic products, food and exercises.
Q: How are stretch marks caused?
A: Stretch marks are caused by rapid weight gain, weight loss or growth spurs, as well as changes in hormones.
Q: What places stretch marks appear the most?
A: Hips, lower and upper arms, lower legs, thighs and abdomen.
Q: What vitamins help with the prevention of stretch marks?
A: Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin C
Q: What cosmetic products help preventing stretch marks?
A: Hydrant creams, gotu kola creams, glycolic acod producs and oil products
Read: How To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks: The Ultimate Guide
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