Stretch marks (striae) are stripe-like marks on the skin which appear as a result of overstretching of the skin, due to rapid weight gain or weight loss. They also appear after pregnancy, during puberty, and in a medical condition like Cushing syndrome.
Rapid weight loss especially leads to prominent stretch marks, since body produces excess hormones that disrupt the collagen (structural protein found in skin) structure and production. Another reason could be the inability of the skin to regain its normal shape after overstretching.
Initially, stretch marks might be visible as purple, pink, or brown stripes, which appear due to the breakdown of the middle layer of the skin called dermis. As time passes, they might appear as silver or white stripes. They are most commonly found on the belly, hips, thighs, arms, lower back, and breasts.
Stretch marks can largely affect your aesthetic appeal, restricting you to wear only certain kind of cloths, or use a range of beauty products to hide them. These can be avoided if the following tips are followed.
How To Reduce Stretch Marks After Weight Loss
1. Hydrate Yourself Sufficiently
The best way to combat stretch marks is to mend their roots, and it is done through hydration. Studies show that drinking at least 8–10 glasses of water per day reduces the prominence of stretch marks. Apart from working as a treatment, it also acts a preventive measure. Drinking at least 3–4 liters of water every day, during your weight loss program, helps avoid stretch marks to a considerable extent.
You can also opt to drink herbal teas, fruit juices, vegetable smoothies in order to keep yourself hydrated while gaining healthy nutrients.
2. Moisturize The Skin
Moisturizing the skin using oils supports collagen production, avoiding its breakdown, and thus reducing the stretch marks. Olive oil, castor oil, bitter almond oil, coconut oil, wheat germ oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter are the best options. It is suggested that you mix at least two oils/butter before applying, and gently massage the area for about 15 minutes.
It is good to avoid chemical containing lotions and moisturizers to reduce stretch marks, as the harsh ingredients could worsen the marks. The results sometimes might be lightened marks which reappear in future.
3. Eat A Skin-Nurturing Diet
Eating the foods rich in vitamin-A, vitamin-E, omega-3, and antioxidants promote skin healing and nourishment. Vitamin-A is a skin repairing agent, therefore, including a good number of carrots, tomatoes, red bell peppers, and squash in the daily diet is suggested. Berries and spinach are rich in antioxidants which protect the skin and nourish it. Omega-3 promotes glow and shields the skin, thus, including walnuts, egg, fish in the diet is beneficial. Nuts, seeds, broccoli being rich in vitamin-E protect the skin membranes.
4. Lose Weight Slowly
Rapid weight loss puts your skin under stress, and a stressful skin disrupts collagen at a faster rate. It also overstretches your skin readily, resulting in stretch marks. It is, therefore, suggested that you lose weight steadily while focusing on the diet and hydration. A rigorous weight-loss diet accompanied with a steady weight-loss regimen is also bad, as lack of vitamins and antioxidants could cause the marks. Steady weight loss and a balanced healthy diet, free of junk and sugar is the key.
5. Try Home Remedies
Unlike over-the-counter products which promise to lighten the marks in a quick span, home remedies might take slightly more time but provide effective results. Using them continuously for a specified amount of time has proven benefits, with no side effects. You can try some of the below remedies.
1. Egg White
Being rich in proteins, egg whites act as excellent skin repairing agents.
- Beat the whites of two eggs thoroughly.
- Clean the area of the skin having stretch marks.
- Apply the egg white using a brush and allow to it dry completely.
- Rinse off with cold water and apply some olive oil or coconut oil to keep the area supple.
- Use it for 2 weeks and see the marks fade away.
2. Potato Juice
Potato has skin lightening properties and promotes skin repair.
- Blend a potato into a fine paste and extract the juice.
- Apply the juice on the affected area and allow it to dry.
- Rinse off using lukewarm water.
- Apply this for at least 3 weeks to see effective results.
- You can alternatively cut the potato into thick slices and rub the slices on the affected area for 3–4 minutes.
3. Aloe vera
Known for its soothing and healing properties, aloe vera is an active agent to lighten stretch marks.
- Extract aloe vera juice and apply it directly on the affected area.
- Let it dry for about 15 minutes and wash it with lukewarm water.
- Aloe vera gels are sold by various brands, which are also effective. However, if it is naturally available, always opt for it.