What Causes Stretch Marks
Stretch marks, also known as striae distensae, are a type of scar that can appear from rapid stretching of the skin in a short period of time. When this happens collagen in the skin ruptures and as the connective tissue starts to heal again, stretch marks can show up. They may appear with different characteristics depending on your skin type:
- raised above the skin
- red, purple, pink, or brown color
The appearance of stretch marks can occur for many reasons such as puberty, pregnancy, rapid weight loss, rapid weight gain, long-term corticosteroid use, breast implants, muscle growth, and on various areas of the body like the stomach, arms, breasts, hips, buttocks, and thighs.
The appearance of stretch marks happens when the skin can’t keep up with the body’s growth.
Though many people don’t like them, stretch marks are not harmful and can fade away over time or with the help of certain products or procedures.
What Collagen Does for Skin
Known as the most abundant protein in the human body and an important building block for connective tissue, collagen is essential for healthy skin. It is responsible for the skin’s elasticity and firmness and can help to maintain healthy and younger-looking skin.
Skin elasticity refers to the skin’s ability to snap back to its original shape after being stretched. When we lose elasticity in the skin, it causes it to more easily form wrinkles and show signs of aging.
While the loss of skin elasticity is inevitable as we age and collagen declines, it is possible to slow the process and improve skin tone and skin texture.
Can Collagen Help with Stretch Marks?
Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular for skin, nail, and hair health but can it help with stretch marks?
And since the loss of collagen in the skin can result in skin problems such as stretch marks, consuming collagen directly or stimulating your own production of collagen may help to reduce the occurrence of stretch marks or their severity.
As a major component and building block of the skin, collagen plays a large role in the health of our skin supporting strength, elasticity, and hydration. Studies have shown that those supplementing with collagen have seen improvements in dry skin, signs of aging, and healing (5)(6).
How to Prevent Stretch Marks
Like any scar, stretch marks are usually permanent, but treatment may make them less noticeable. Treatment can also help to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms such as itchiness.
But what about prevention? Can we prevent stretch marks from showing up in the first place? The answer isn’t clear, but it might be possible.
There are many topical creams touted as part of stretch mark prevention but not all of them actually have been shown to work.
The use of topicals for the management of stretch marks is still lacking sufficient research to determine what actually is the best course of treatment however studies are showing some promising results.
There are also natural supplements that you can take orally that have been associated with beneficial outcomes of stretch marks. Centella asiatica, more commonly known as Gotu Kola, is another natural treatment that is used in the treatment of various skin conditions as it has been shown to improve scarring, wound healing, and skin firmness by increasing the rate of collagen synthesis (8)(9). A study found improvements on cutaneous stretch marks in postpartum women in a relatively short amount of time (10).
Of course adopting a whole foods, nutritious, and balanced diet is key to obtaining a variety of nutrients from dietary sources needed for keeping skin healthy and promoting healing in the body in addition to therapeutic treatments.
Rebuild Skin Cells With Microneedling
Micro-needling is a very simple, safe, and minimally invasive therapeutic and cosmetic procedure found to be effective in the management of stretch marks (11). Micro-needling involves tiny needles that prick the skin’s dermis to cause small wounds in the skin in order to stimulate collagen and elastin for healing and skin rejuvenation. This process assists in skin renewal and combats skin aging by improving blood flow and replacing the micro-wounds with new dermal tissues and blood vessels.
These micro-needles create micro punctures that stimulate skin healing and collagen growth without damaging the epidermis. Micro-needling is an effective treatment utilized for many conditions and skin care therapies such as acne, burn scars, sun spots, wrinkles, and stretch marks (12). It is also used for hair loss and promoting healthy hair (13).
Boost Collagen With Laser
Laser treatments are also showing effectiveness in the treatment of stretch marks. These lasers utilize intense beams of light to stimulate the growth of fresh collagen, elastin, and melanin and jumpstart the regeneration process (14). Laser light therapy can help to smooth out the skin’s appearance and reduce the appearance of red and white stretch marks (15).
There are different types of laser therapy thus we recommend discussing with your doctor in order to choose the appropriate treatment.
There are many natural dietary supplements that have been associated with the rejuvenation of the skin, increased collagen synthesis, and skin healing. Today we are sharing some of our favorites here at Vitasave!
Though collagen is solely found in animal products, there are vegan friendly supplements and nutrients that can help to stimulate the body’s own internal collagen production. One of these nutrients, vitamin C has an essential role in connective tissue healing as it is well known for increasing fresh collagen synthesis, reducing oxidative stress, and improving collagen absorption.
Organika’s Plant Based Collagen Booster promotes collagen levels with the help of nine key ingredients that are all plant derived. These natural ingredients include dragon fruit, west Indian-cherry fruit, carrot, ginseng, Acerola berry, Golden bamboo extract, Lemon, Moringa leaf, and Astaxanthin which help to maximize collagen formation.
Raw shea butter is an all natural moisturizer that works wonders on the health of the skin. It is highly moisturizing, rejuvenating, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial, helping to keep skin hydrated, soft, and youthful. This healing product for skin has been shown to support healthy regeneration of skin tissues and reduction of skin scarring, making it a beneficial additional treatment for stretch marks as it can help to minimize scarring. Using shea butter as a regular moisturizer and cream for skin hydration can help to keep your skin healthy while minimizing the appearance of stretch marks. The natural fatty acids in particular found in shea butter are especially healing and have been shown to inhibit inhibit the growth of keloid scar tissue formation (16).
Shea butter may be found in various body lotions however we recommend looking for pure and raw shea butter for best results. Though this moisturizing agent is typically well tolerated among all skin types, even sensitive skin, we always recommend testing a small amount first.
Coconut oil is also another natural topical alternative that may help to support topical wound healing (17).
The application of natural hydrating topical agents can help to support optimal tissue repair and minimize scars by keeping the skin soft, hydrated, and supple.
Though we can obtain collagen through our diet from foods such as bone broth, the benefits of collagen supplements are becoming increasingly evident for many health conditions and symptoms including skin health (18).
There are 3 collagen types and sources of collagen may come as bovine collagen, marine collagen, chicken collagen, and eggshell membrane collagen.
Vital Proteins collagen peptides powder provides high quality bioactive collagen peptides in an easily dissolvable collagen powder for enhanced absorption so you can enjoy as part of your morning coffee, smoothie, baked goods, oatmeal, or tea! Collagen peptides are smaller broken down pieces of the collagen protein providing short chains of amino acids that are more easily absorbed in the digestive tract.
Bovine collagen peptides can help to support overall skin health, maintaining the skin’s elasticity and reducing the signs of aging.
In addition to providing 20 grams of collagen per scoop delivered in the form of grass-fed bovine bioactive collagen peptides, this Vital Proteins product also includes hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to best support collagen production. Vital Proteins prides itself on sourcing high-quality collagen powders from high quality sources such as grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine and wild-caught, non-GMO fish to supply a superior source of collagen product to help you feel your best, give your best and look your best.
About the Author
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women’s hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence’s mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.