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April 15, 2014

Recognizing and preventing stretch marks

Stretch marks develop when collagen and elastin – fibres in the dermis that account for skin healing and elasticity – are damaged or not available in sufficient quantity.

Stretch marks start off as slender, pinkish or purplish lines of varying intensity, before turning into silvery, undulated lesions that are slightly lighter than the colour of your skin. They generally occur on the thighs, hips, stomach, bust or buttocks and primarily affect women (1 in 2 women and over 75% of pregnant women), but also many men and even adolescents (10%).

Causes and risk factors

  • Heredity
  • Stretching of the skin, which occurs:
    • In adolescence (rapid growth spurts)
    • During pregnancy
    • From rapid weight gain
  • Elevated levels of cortisol (a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland affecting collagen production) due to:
    • Pregnancy
    • Prolonged use of certain medications (such as corticosteroids)
    • Diabetes and certain rare diseases
    • Certain high-level sports (bodybuilding)

Prevention and evolution of stretch marks

The best way to prevent the appearance of stretch marks is to:

  • Avoid sudden weight gain
  • Moisturize your skin liberally, especially during pregnancy (you can look for hydrating active ingredients touted for their “stretch mark fighting” properties: shea butter, fruit acids, vitamins C and E, hyaluronic acid, allantoin, sweet almond oil, argan oil, etc.)

Most experts (dermatologists and estheticians) agree that once stretch marks have developed, they cannot be eliminated altogether, particularly the older ones. In some cases, however, you can reduce their appearance by using:

  • Special stretch mark creams and lotions
  • Peelings and microdermabrasion
  • Various types of vascular laser therapy (it can lighten stretch marks, smooth the skin, tighten scars or darken the pigmentation of the marks)
  • Plastic surgery
  • LED photomodulation (it stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, reducing stretch marks)

The most affordable treatment is, of course, self-acceptance!

Quick tip!
During the summer, apply self-tanner to silvery stretch marks before going out in the sun. This will make them temporarily less noticeable.

Pharmacy services

For advice on preventing and treating stretch marks, talk to your pharmacist or beauty consultant. They have all the basic information you just might be looking for!