Latoya Grindley, Staff Reporter
Stretch marks, especially for women, are vivid reminders of various life episodes, which are oftentimes linked to rapid weight loss or gain and, the most popular, pregnancy. Appearing on various parts of the body, these unsightly marks do nothing for a woman's self-esteem. Some persons are even afraid to expose certain body parts that have been affected.
Depending on the colour of the skin, stretch marks over a period of time fade to a lighter hue, which makes them easily visible.
According to dermatologist Dr Arlene Rose of DermaKare, stretch marks tend to appear on specific parts of the body and may come in different forms.
"They are most commonly seen on the tummy, buttocks, waist area, arms, breasts and thighs, sometimes even behind the knees or on the back. There are also different types: some are lighter and often sunken, some form networks, others may be darker or raised. Some stretch marks look reddish or purplish in colour and these are usually newest and somewhat easier to treat," Dr Rose said, adding that genetics play a role.
"There may sometimes be a genetic predisposition; however, it doesn't mean that if your mother has stretch marks that you will also, as everyone is different and genes may come from many generations back," she noted and suggested the use of over-the-counter products.
"These products can be used, but they usually take much longer to give results. Some of the main ingredients used are,vitamin E, cocoa butter, alpha hydroxy acids, and vegetable extracts. It has been traditionally claimed that products like cocoa butter, vitamin E, olive oil, among other products, can prevent stretch marks."
Using preventative methods with some of these readily available products, especially during pregnancy, is recommended.
"They may help by improving the moisture content and elasticity of the skin which may make one less likely to develop the stretch marks, so I do recommend them during times like pregnancy. I also recommend that persons try to maintain a steady body weight, avoiding fluctuations."
For faster and more effective results, Dr Rose recommends dermatological care. A dermatologist or skincare specialist will work out a treatment programme.
"To eliminate stretch marks has always been a challenge; however, at DermaKare, we use combinations of therapies, depending on the location and type of the marks, the sensitivity of the skin of the person, as well as the budget my patients are working with."
These include laser, collagen induction therapy and peels, which are deemed best for treating stretch marks.
"We have a high degree of patient satisfaction and it makes us happy when many of our patients can get back into certain types of clothing again or go to the beach after avoiding it for a long time."
Highlighting that the earlier stretch marks are treated, the better the results, Dr Rose said that they can be treated to the point of being unnoticeable.
"When we treat stretch marks, if they are sunken or raised we notice they first seem to flatten and then appear to become broken up until they no longer appear to be there. As they clear, one has to go closer and closer to actually see them until they just are not noticeable anymore. Usually at this point, patients have already become much more confident and happy. That is our aim."