Not feeling like a tiger who’s earned her stripes? You’re not alone.
Studies suggest that 90 percent of women will get stretch marks over their lifetimes. Those thin, ropey red to white silvery lines on your stomach, thighs, hips or breasts scientifically known as “singular stria” is not limited to pregnancy. They can result from rapid weight change, excess exercise, adolescence, or anything that will literally stretch or “overextend” the middle layer of the skin (dermis) to tear. This breaks the skin fibers, allowing blood vessels below the skin to show through. The marks appear red to purple in color at first, then soon changes to silvery white when the blood vessels contract and the pale-colored fat underneath your skin becomes visible. In other words, it’s a sign your skin couldn’t exactly bounce back.
Did we also mention that nearly anyone, regardless of age, can get these glaring lines? Experts say genetic factors can potentially play a significant role in determining when they appear.
For centuries, women has either used soothing aloe vera gels or rich cocoa butter lotions to lighten up these troublesome marks, or hid them underneath clothing. But is it possible to prevent stretch marks altogether, despite what our body has in mind naturally? Isn’t there anything else that can be done?
Fortunately, not all hope is lost. It is possible to treat stretch marks with laser, but it cannot be done with creams or lotions alone, which experts say are ineffective.
“Stretch marks, when caught at the early reddish stage, can be effectively treated with certain types of lasers,” says Tzu. “When caught at the later white stage, stretch marks are more difficult to treat. However, there still are ways to improve its appearance even at a later stage with laser treatments. Multiple treatments are almost always involved. A dermatologist with experience in laser surgery is recommended for these types of treatments. Unfortunately, topical treatments are much less, if at all, effective for the removal of stretch marks.”
“It is hard to repair the elastic fibers, which is why over-the-counter formulas don’t work,” adds Tanzi. The major downer? These laser treatments can range from PHP 16,000 to PHP 40,000 per session—and there’s no guarantee stretch marks won’t return.
If you’re really self-conscious about yours, though, you can do something about them. There is one other simpler (though temporary) solution.
Warning: You may want to sit down for this one.
According to Dr. Stafford Broumand, New York City-based plastic surgeon and associate clinical professor of plastic surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital, just add some color.
“Women can try using a self-tanner to camouflage the marks and even out their skin tone,” he suggests.
Here is a step-by-step instructions to make your stretch marks less obvious with tanning lotions the fashionista way.
Step 1. Exfoliate your skin. Use a body scrub the morning before you want to cover up your stretch marks. Try a body scrub containing caffeine as this may make your skin appear tighter and smoother.
Step 2. Choose a leg self-tanner. Numerous drugstore brands make tanning products especially designed for use on legs. Test the product on a small patch of skin to check for allergies. Ask your doctor or dermatologist for a recommended product if you have sensitive skin or you’re prone to skin allergies. This method works well for older, white stretch marks. Choose a self-tanner that does not come in a spray bottle. You will need a lotion product that is labeled “streak free.”
Step 3. Apply the tanner. Squeeze some self-tanner onto a plate or in a bowl. The plate will be your makeup palette. Dab the self-tanner with a cotton swab. Wipe off excess on another portion of the plate. Apply along the line of the white stretch mark. Wipe off excess self-tanner with the clean end of the cotton swab. Next apply the tanner all over your arms and legs for an even, natural-looking tan. If you have difficulty reaching all your stretch marks, use a mirror or ask a friend to help you.
Step 4: Correct any mistakes. Let your skin dry to see how the tan came out. Streaks or dark spots can be fixed by scrubbing with a washcloth and water. An exfoliating scrub can erase streaks on large areas of skin.
Aside from tanning, it is also important to tone your legs. Work your inner and outer thighs by walking, pilates, yoga, barre, running, lunges and squats. Seek the help of a personal trainer to develop a leg routine that will firm the muscles underneath your stretch marks. If you have lost weight, gaining back muscle may help stretch marks fade. If you have gained weight, aerobic exercise may help you shed a few pounds and take the pressure off your skin.
Remember, firm muscles will not get rid of stretch marks but hey can reduce the appearance of cellulite, which often appears in the same areas that stretch marks appear. Minimal weight loss may cause some fresh stretch marks to heal and nearly disappear. Significant weight loss may lead to excess skin on some areas of the legs.