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  • The Hows and Whys of Stretch Marks

    As temperatures rise and summer vacations get booked our attention shifts to our body. The prospect of showing a lot more skin and getting into that cute floral two piece can bring on mixed emotions, from extreme anxiety to a healthy dose of motivation to sign up for barre class. But while we know how to flatten tummies and perk up our glutes, solutions for treating and preventing stretch marks may remain a mystery. This is also a common issue among your expecting clients.

    What are Stretch Marks and Why do We Get Them?

    Affecting as many as 90% of women and known as “striae,” stretch marks are a form of scarring that occur in the dermis as a result of collagen and elastin fibers being unable to form to keep rapidly growing skin taut. This creates a lack of supportive material, as the skin is stretched and leads to dermal and epidermal tearing. Appendages like hair follicles, sweat glands and other structures are absent in areas affected by stretch marks.

    Stretch marks typically appear after rapid weight gain or loss, and the most common sites include the breasts, buttocks, thighs and lateral abdomen. They are most common during pregnancy and the teen years, when growth spurts and increased levels of steroid hormones cause substantial changes throughout the body. Stretch marks can also be brought on by weight lifting and over use of steroids like cortisone, which thins the skin and connective tissues, making it susceptible to tears. Like cellulite, there are hormonal and genetic factors, as some people are more prone than others. If your mother had them then it’s likely that you will have them too.

    Stretch marks are, sadly, not easy to treat. Once they have passed the initial stage of appearing pink, red or purple, to the later stage of looking white or silver with deeper indentations, they are much more challenging. However they can be prevented to some degree which is good news for your pregnant clients.

    Tips to Avoid Stretch Marks:

    • Avoid rapid weight gain and loss.

    • For best results treat stretch marks when they first appear pink and are early in development.

    • Moisturize 3-4 times a day to help the skin to become more pliant, hydrated and better able to stretch. Look for skin products that contain Vitamin E, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Omega 3s, Wheat Germ Oil, Gamma Linoleic Acid and Hylauronic Acid. Massage into breasts, belly, hips, and buttocks.

    • Post pregnancy, or for non-pregnant clients, ingredients like Retinol, Lactic Acid, derivatives of Vitamin C (i.e. Ascorbic Acid and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) and protein boosting peptides can also help repair stretch marks.

    • Zinc and Vitamin E supplements are recommended by some doctors and health practitioners.

    • Laser resurfacing and fractional lasers, when combined with Retinoic Acid, are commonly used by dermatologists to treat and remove stretch marks, though there are no guarantees that they will be removed completely.

    Remember it’s our imperfections that make us unique, and a great swimsuit, fabulous sunhat and confident stride go along way!