Every mark has a story, right? When you see a scar under someone’s eye, you wonder how she earned it. What heroic act landed it there? Or how did he end up with that mark next to his ear?
The scars and marks on our bodies can tell others a lot about us. Turns out, the stories behind stretch marks are pretty common. So, if you’ve developed some, don’t worry. You’re not alone. And… you can treat them, once you learn how.
Where Do Stretch Marks Come From?
It all starts with the topmost layer of your skin (the epidermis) and the layer just below it (the dermis). You see, the second layer, the dermis, contains loads of collagen. Collagen is the primary structural protein in your connective tissue.
Now, some people are born with thick, very elastic skin (thank you genetics),
But other folks produce less collagen and this means they’re more prone to things like stretch marks.
Stretch marks occur when the body undergoes some sort of rapid growth — like pregnancy, puberty, or weight gain — that can pull on your skin and stretch the collagen bunches in your dermis. When this happens, those collagen bunches separate. And when the growth spurt stops, the top layer of your skin can look wrinkly or strained because the collagen structure has actually broken apart.
More simply, if the top layer of your skin expands or contracts faster than the layer beneath it, your connective tissues — collagen and elastin — break apart, leaving stretch marks behind.
So, What Do They Look Like?
Well, stretch marks can definitely reveal damaged tissue — they might look kind of veiny, or like the bare branches of a tree. And if your skin is thinning in certain areas, stretch marks can seem even more defined. Unfortunately, the skin over your breasts is significantly thinner than the skin over your other body parts, and that means it is more likely to tear.
Again, there are a few you can do at home to help minimize the visual signs of stretch marks. Basically, these techniques could encourage some visible smoothing effects:
- Increasing skin hydration
- Helping to decrease redness
- Encouraging antioxidant actions
- And supporting improved collagen production
But more specifically, how can you help decrease the appearance of stretch marks on your breasts? Also, remember that though they may seem unsightly to some, stretch marks are harmless.
Various Types of Stretch Marks
As a reminder, in a lot of cases, stretch marks are just part of the deal when it comes to puberty and pregnancy.
These are the marks that look pink, purple, or red in color. These red stretch marks are often what you see during the early stages of collagen breakdown
These are the thinner, pale or white stretch marks that evolve as stretch marks age.
Finally, these are the marks that come with pregnancy.1
Why Do Some Women Get Breast Stretch Marks?
When a woman experiences a certain hormonal change — like the type that occurs during puberty or pregnancy — the tissue in her breasts might expand pretty rapidly.
Furthermore, if a woman undergoes a breast surgery — for either cosmetic reasons, or for treatment purposes — she may see the development of stretch marks on breasts.
That’s because surgical procedures on your breasts can change the shape of the breast quickly. The result? The skin on your breast is forced to adapt relatively quickly, which may cause scarring.
So, How Can You Treat Stretch Marks on Breasts?
Let’s be clear: Stretch marks on breasts (or anywhere on your body, for that matter) can only really be minimized. Stretch mark removal just isn’t possible. They’ll never be entirely gone — they’ll simply become less noticeable.
And, if you’re trying to diminish the appearance of stretch marks on breasts, you should start by trying some simple, at-home treatments before attempting more expensive and aggressive treatments that could potentially cause even more scarring.
1. Exfoliate at Home
Get creative creating gentle home exfoliants by combining ingredients like olive oil and sugar. You can also try adding some mild herbal extracts and essential oils to your exfoliant mixtures. These might be able to help reduce the appearance of breast stretch marks. Exfoliating gently could potentially help to remove some of the layers of damaged tissue, and the best ingredients could even help rejuvenate your skin cells and support new, healthy cell growth.
Try the following ingredients until you find a mixture your body likes:
- Rosehip oil
- Marine collagen
- Grapeseed oil
- Egg whites
- Almond Oil
- Vitamin E
- Olive oil
- Shea butter
Also, you can find a large number of over-the-counter creams to help you control the visual signs of stretch marks, but the best ones will definitely include some of the ingredients on this list.
2. Hydrate Your Skin!
To properly heal, body tissues must be hydrated. When tissues and cells are dehydrated, they also shrivel and shrink, which can increase the extent of stretch marks.
3. Massage (with Almond Oil)
Believe it or not, massage is one of the best ways to reduce breast stretch marks. Why? Well, massage can help encourage healthy circulation in the scarred areas and support healing. In fact, a recent study recommended 15-minute massages, using almond oil, during pregnancy, as they were shown to help prevent the development of striae gravidarum.2
Basically, you want to apply gentle pressure in a circular pattern to the stretch mark every day. It may be hard to keep your hopes up, as you might not notice drastic improvement, but it should help.
4. Prescriptions and other Formulas
If you’re not finding at-home remedies to be helpful, it’s a good idea to talk with your healthcare professional about prescription creams and gels.
There are synthetic forms of vitamin A, like tretinoin creams with concentrations greater than 0.05 percent, that have been proven to help improve striae gravidarum — the pregnancy stretch mark — by a significant degree.3
A recent study also found that a formula containing hydroxyprolisilane C, rosehip oil, Centella asiatica extract, and vitamin E reduced the risk of breast stretch marks during pregnancy by 30% if there was no history of stretch marks to date.4
Furthermore, certain topical creams can help boost collagen production and help hydrate your skin.
Again, talk to your doctor about the best cream to use and make sure you’re presented with any potential side effects.
5. Laser Therapy
It’s impossible to address how to prevent stretch marks or reduce their appearance once they arrive without mentioning laser therapy. This therapy essentially uses rays of light to dissolve scar tissue.
Recently, a study asserted that striae rubra responded to laser therapy and could be treated somewhat successfully without major side effects. Furthermore, fractional lasers seemed to do well repigmenting striae alba — they even helped boost collagen growth.5
But just so you know, it’s not like one trip to the laser house will fix your stretch mark woes. Usually, you have to frequent laser facilities, and the cost can be prohibitive. Do your due diligence if laser repair seems to interest you.
A Word of Caution
A 2017 study discovered that a majority of pregnant women (to the tune of up to 90 percent) experience stretch marks. There are some risk factors you might be able to avoid if you’re worried about developing stretch marks.
Namely, try to avoid things like:
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss
- Pregnancy at a young age
- Dehydration over an extended period of time
- Extended steroid use6
In The End…
Stretch marks may seem unsightly to some, but they are very common — among women, especially.
Again, don’t worry if you’re starting to notice stretch marks on breasts, or anywhere else on your body. You’re not alone.
But, if you catch them early and apply some of the tips above, you can minimize the appearance of your stretch marks and keep yourself comfortable in your skin.