Why do we get stretch marks

Stretch marks

Brief overview

  • What are stretch marks? initially bluish-red and later white-yellowish, scar-like strips of skin, typically on the breasts, stomach, thighs or buttocks. Medical names for this are Striae cutis, Striae cutis atrophicae, Striae cutis distensae, Striae distensae.
  • Causes: Overstretching of the connective tissue, e.g. B. pregnancy, rapid weight gain, hormone treatment, strong muscle loss
  • Home remedies: Plucking massage, care oils / cellulite creams, microneedling, concealment
  • Therapy: z. B. Lasers, chemical peeling, micromassage
  • Responsible specialist: Dermatologist
  • Prevent: i.a. by showering with cold water, eating healthily, exercising, massages, skin care products

Prevent stretch marks

Stretch marks are stubborn and can hardly, and certainly not at all, be removed inexpensively. So it is best if they do not arise in the first place. But how can you prevent stretch marks? Various measures can help:

  • cold shower
  • healthy eating
  • much drinking
  • Sport and exercise
  • well-fitting bra to support the breast tissue
  • Dry brush massages with a massage glove
  • Plucking and kneading massages
  • various creams and lotions (with the active ingredient alpha-tocopherol; other ingredients including elastin, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, collagen)

Some of these measures can improve the elasticity of the skin and increase blood circulation. In some cases, they should even be able to somewhat limit the extent of existing stretch marks.

It remains unclear whether the measures mentioned actually prevent stretch marks. The data situation on this is thin.

Stretch marks: causes and possible diseases

Stretch marks occur when the connective tissue is overstretched and the elastic fibers (Collagen and Elastin) tear the subcutis. Such overstretching can have different causes. Stretch marks often develop in women during pregnancy (especially in the second half of pregnancy) when the elasticity of the skin is severely stressed by the growing child. The altered hormonal balance also contributes to the development of the streaks: The cortisol level in the blood is increased during pregnancy - and since the adrenal hormone reduces the elasticity of the skin, it is more likely that it will tear and stretch marks will develop.

Such pregnancy-related stretch marks are called by professionals Striae gravidarum designated. In the vernacular one speaks of Stretch marks. Women with sensitive, fair skin who gain weight during pregnancy, were previously overweight or have weak connective tissue are particularly susceptible to this.

But stretch marks can also develop outside of pregnancy, regardless of gender and age, for example through

  • rapid fat gain
  • strong muscle building (e.g. through bodybuilding)
  • a hormone treatment
  • prolonged use of cortisone (glucocorticoids)
  • puberty (Striae pubertalis, Striae adolescentium)
  • Obesity with impaired hormone production (endocrinological disorder; Striae obesitatis, Striae rubrae)
  • Infections such as typhus, typhus, tuberculosis (Striae infectiosae)
  • Cushing's syndrome (consequence of a pathologically increased production of the adrenal hormone cortisol)

Because stretch marks often occur in families, a genetic component in their formation is also discussed.

Home remedies for stretch marks

Stretch marks are relatively stubborn and dig into the tissue like small scars. A Vitamin A ointment can make them go back a little. However, you should not use the ointment during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as it could harm the (unborn) child.

Home remedies to relieve stretch marks are partly the same as for prevention:

  • Regular massage: The classic plucking massage, in which small rolls of skin are gently pulled upwards with the thumb and forefinger, is intended to stimulate blood circulation and be good for the connective tissue. Danger: Pregnant women should definitely avoid the area above the pubic bone, as the massage could irritate the uterus and trigger labor. Four weeks before the birth, it should only be oiled and no longer massaged.
  • Oiling: Used daily, care oils should make the skin supple. There are different products in drugstores and pharmacies; some are also specially declared for use during pregnancy. As a home remedy for stretch marks, warm castor oil or marigold ointment should also help repair cracks in the skin. And of course you can try to strengthen your connective tissue with special cellulite oils.
  • Microneedling: Sounds bad, but it is usually painless. For this treatment, you pull a roller over the strips with fine needles. It pokes microscopic holes in the skin, causing the body to release collagen to close the wounds. Among other things, this protein stabilizes the skin, which is supposed to reduce stretch marks. Needling can be done at home or by a beautician, but not more than once a week.
  • Self-tanner: If all else fails - and this is possible because studies on the effectiveness of stretch mark home remedies are thin - you can try to hide the streaks with a self-tanner. It balances the color of the skin and that of the fine cracks. Follow the instructions for use of the respective product.

Stretch marks: when to see a doctor?

With stretch marks, you don't need to see a doctor as such. The strip-shaped, painless skin changes are solely a cosmetic and not a health problem. However, some people affected suffer greatly from stretch marks and feel restricted in their everyday life, for example because they no longer dare to show themselves in a bikini. In such cases, you should see a dermatologist (aesthetic medicine) and seek advice on treatment options.

Stretch Marks: What Does the Doctor Do?

Even with modern methods, stretch marks can often not be removed completely, but they can at least be weakened. Promising therapies include, for example:

  • Laser therapy: various laser methods for smoothing wrinkles, skin tightening, collagen regeneration
  • chemical peel: Microdermabrasion, glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, fruit acid
  • Mesotherapy: Microinjections of drugs directly into the deeper layers of the skin (drug depot)
  • Carboxytherapy: Injecting carbon dioxide directly into the scar area improves blood circulation
  • surgical cryotherapy: Tissue is deliberately destroyed by cold (liquid nitrogen)
  • Local dynamic micromassage (LDM) with high frequency ultrasound
  • Reflective Skintonic Depresso Therapy: innovative massage technology (suction massage)

With some laser methods, especially "fresh" striae, i.e. reddish stripes, can be treated more effectively than older, pale stripes. In the case of dark-skinned people it can easily become one Hyperpigmentation come - the treated skin areas then appear darker than the surrounding healthy skin. In addition, the skin urgently needs careful care before and after laser therapy. This is the only way to optimally heal the wounds and avoid side effects.

As a rule, health insurance companies do not cover the costs of medical treatment for stretch marks. If you are still interested, then you should first find out more from an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon: learn about the various methods of removing Stretch marks explain and ask about the respective costs, benefits, risks and side effects.

Author & source information