Striae distensae or stretch marks are deep scars caused by the skin being stretched beyond its capacity to stretch, followed by ineffective repair of the damage.
Latin does not make them any less noticeable. They may start as striae rubra, which are reddish streaks (indicating increased blood flow), and “mature” to as striae alba, which are hypopigmented atrophic bands.
Location: abdomen, thighs, breasts, more or less anywhere when the skin was stretched too fast. What you see is skin that has less elasticity, more roughness, and lower dermal density than normal skin.
At the molecular level
What you see at the molecular level is that in normal skin, dermal collagen fibrils are organized as tightly packed, interwoven bundles. In stretch marks, collagen bundles appear markedly separated, especially in the mid-to-deep dermis. In the spaces separating these bundles, loosely packed wavy collagen fibrils lacking organization as bundles were present. These disorganized fibrils persisted into the postpartum period and failed to form densely packed bundles. Numerous large fibroblasts displaying type I procollagen expression were in close proximity to the disorganized fibrils, indicating that the fibrils are newly synthesized.
In stretch marks developing during pregnancy, the elastic fiber network appears disrupted, and newly synthesized tropoelastin-rich fibrils emerge, likely as a result of uncoordinated synthesis of elastic fiber components. Because they are thin and disorganized, tropoelastin-rich fibrils likely do not function as normal elastic fibers do.
What happened? Stretch marks seem to indicate that collagen bundles disrupted by intense skin stretching were ineffectively repaired.
What you need is better repair of the collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis. It is true that the skin is relatively elastic but sometimes it can’t cope. This happens sometimes when teenagers grow very quickly (it can happen anywhere, in breasts or in arms) or when we gain weight rapidly, or during pregnancy. The capacity of our skin to stretch depends on its health, age, and genetics.
Other factors: long term use of topical steroids will thin the skin and cause atrophy. Topical steroids are OK for an emergency, like a mosquito bite, but should be avoided for long term problems like eczema.
What to do:
You can improve your stretch marks. The least you can do: massage them with Rosehip oil, that by itself will help at prevention and at healing them and has the advantage that you can use it without any worries during pregnancy and lactation.
Anything else? Yes. These are pre-mixed products that will help improve your stretch marks. Why so many? Because in a stretch mark you have a generalized failure of the skin to heal properly, and many actives can help with this problem. You don’t have to use all of the suggested products, choose a couple that you may like. Restoration cream will work better with “frash” stretch marks, scar gel will work better with old marks. Vitamin A cream will help with everything, including “cellulite”.
Alpha/beta exfoliator (careful, it can sting!)
You want to make your own?
You will need:
Sea kelp bioferment 1 oz
Retinyl acetate 1.2 gm
Rosehip oil 2oz
Epidermal growth factor 50 micrograms
Instructions: Use a clean container with a capacity of 12 oz. or more. Add retinyl acetate to base cream in a container , mix well. Add rosehip oil and mix again. Check that there are no undissolved powder and add sea kelp bioferment and EGF. Mix and the lotion is ready to use. Massage well, the massage will, by itself, help with the stretch marks!