Stretch marks (striae) in the July 2010 Ageless herbal newsletter
The most common skin disorder experienced by women is stretch marks. Although pregnant women run a 70% risk of these marks forming, men and women can have them appear in puberty when boys and girls go through ‘rapid growth spurts” and body building enthusiasts also run a great risk of them forming. REFERENCE 1
To understand the problem, we must realize that these “stretch marks” are actually where the dermis of the skin is torn.
The dermis is a layer of skin found between the epidermis and hypodermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin and the hypodermis (also called the hypoderm, superficial tissue and subcutaneous tissue) is the bottom layer of the skin, containing fibroblasts, adipose cells, and macrophages.
Striae – the medical term for this problem – are normally red-mauve marks, with the marks having a satiny puckered crepe paper look, and may also be slightly swollen in some cases.
As they age, the red-mauve color normally fades to white but will have a silvery look to it, and will be very soft to the touch.
There are different types of stretch marks and the medical fraternity refers to striae gravidarum (in pregnancy), striae atrophicae, vergetures, stria distensae, striae cutis distensae, lineae atrophicae, striae distensae and linea albicante.
When we refer to striae – we refer to any stretch marks in general.
The width of these marks varies a lot (from 1 mm – 14 mm and in some cases even wider) and can be short thin marks covering a large area, or can be long, broad, and very pertinent stretch marks.
Stretch marks can appear on the abdomen, breasts, underarm, upper arms, thighs, hips, back and buttocks.
Although these unsightly marks do not carry any significant health risks it can affect the psychological well being of the patient, and also influence self-esteem.
This is particularly true in adolescents where peer pressure and self-actualization is important – and sufferers will not feel comfortable to let other people see these marks. Feelings of inferiority and resultant depression are not uncommon. REFERENCE 59
In most cases, the people affected with very noticeable stretch marks will not be seen in swim wear, and will also dress in such a way as to hide these marks at all times.
Although the marks do fade with time and become less obvious, a person may look to using a well formulated topical treatment for stretch marks – like our herbal Ageless Stretch Mark Gel.
The herbal ingredients (phytolastil) of our gel have been clinically tested to help prevent stretch marks and also to improve the appearance of already formed marks.
When you have excessive stretching of the skin, be that during rapid growth, pregnancy, muscle and body building, obesity etc. the skin needs to stretch in order to accommodate the increase in size.
When this increase in stretching is more than what the dermis can handle, or if the elasticity of the dermis is not right, the dermis will simply tear (cause splits) to accommodate the increased size.
Stretch marks do not simply appear spontaneously – the skin must be under stress for it to happen, and the health of the collagen is of prime importance. REFERENCE 7
This is further underscored by looking at people suffering from Marfan syndrome – a medical condition where patient’s collagen is also affected. REFERENCE 24 – 41
Collagen and elastin gives density, firmness and form to our skin, and when in good shape, the skin will be healthy and smooth.
The importance of healthy collagen and elastin in the skin has been well documented as being a deciding factor if stretch marks will form or not. The presence of excessive cortisol also seems to play a factor in the incidence rate of stretch marks.
When these compounds are present in the body, the possibility of striae forming is increased due to the collagen being under attack.
This is particularly true when the glucocorticoid hormone prevents the fibroblast to form collagen and elastin. REFERENCE 8 - 11
The presence of excessive cortisol in the body is also a major influencing factor in the formation of stretch marks, as it influences the collagen and elastin structure of the skin. REFERENCE 83 + 84
This can be clearly seen with people suffering from Cushing’s syndrome. REFERENCE 12 – 23 When excessive hydrocortisone is present in pregnancy stretch marks are also more likely to form. REFERENCE 51
As mentioned, about 70% of pregnant women may suffer from these marks and they normally start to appear in the 25th week of pregnancy. REFERENCE 2
In a study it was found that the age of pregnant women is important – as older women developed less striae than younger women. The weight of the women also had an impact and pregnant mothers that had increased Body Mass Index (BMI) also had more stretch marks. REFERENCE 3, 60, 61, 68 + 75
Consuming alcohol was also a factor and even the amount of water taken daily was checked.
The release of relaxin hormone during pregnancy also seems to play a part in the formation of striae. REFERENCE 63 - 67
A 92% success rate in the prevention of stretch marks in pregnancy was achieved in the clinical trial on the phytolastil herbal extracts used in our Ageless Stretch Mark Gel.
When children experience very rapid growth – even if obesity is not present – they do run the risk of developing stretch marks. This is because the skin does not keep pace with the growth rate of the rest of the body – and then causes stretch marks. REFERENCE 52 - 58 + 76 - 78
Our Ageless Stretch Mark Gel may be of help in this case as it helps to boost collagen manufacture and assists the elastin in the skin as well.
People that do body building run a risk of stretch marks forming and various factors could influence it. Since the “bulking” in muscle building normally requires excessive exercising, the cortisol level in the body can increase. This in turn can contribute to stretch marks forming.
To help prevent this from happening, a topical treatment like our Ageless Stretch Mark Gel with herbal phytolastil can be used.
Body builders must also take note that injecting anabolic steroids will also increase the possibility of stretch marks forming on the skin. REFERENCE 59 + 79 - 82
Although stretch marks in morbidly obese patients are due to the skin’s dermis not being able to handle the extensive stretching, and then causing striae, it was also noted that people with a BMI of 30 – 40 also had more trans-dermal water loss. REFERENCE 50
When you look around, thousands of products promise to remove and get rid of stretch marks.
Unfortunately – no topical cream, gel, oil, lotion or balm will totally remove already formed stretch marks. That is the plain truth.
Even medical laser intervention is not always very successful, and it is really only surgical removal by a very well qualified plastic surgeon that would remove stretch marks.
Since many companies target pregnant mothers to sell their "stretch mark preventing remedies" – a study was done on various such stretch mark treatments.
These studies found that the application of cocoa butter, olive oil and other moisturizing oils did NOT reduce the incidence of stretch marks being formed during pregnancy and it also did NOT reduce the appearance of already formed stretch marks. REFERENCE 4 - 6
The cocoa butter and oils moisturized the skin, and the striae looked better since the dry scaly look of the stretch marks were not visible with the butter or oil on the skin. This however did not have a lasting effect.
Some people have had mixed results with the application of tretinoin cream (Retin A) to stretch marks - and while a 0.1% cream had some effect, a 0.025% cream had no effect. REFERENCE 76 + 77
Other studies however proved that a cream or gel containing centella, vitamin E and collagen-elastin hydrosates helped to prevent stretch marks and also improved the aesthetics of old already formed stretch marks. REFERENCE 42 - 49
Our herbal Ageless Stretch Mark Gel with herbal phytolastil (including centella) will improve the way stretch marks look and a clinical trial on the ingredients proved it.
The gel has a 92% success rate in the prevention of stria in pregnancy, 52-86% curative action during pregnancy and 57% success on stretch marks after delivery - our clients with old stretch marks report a marked improvement in the way their old marks look after treatment.
Some people believe that sun tanning makes it look better, but it is a very temporary solution, as it just make them go a bit red, and after the sun induced redness disappears, they will go back to their original colorless state.
It would not be a good idea to suntan – as the striae itself has no melanin – and sun tanning may cause DNA damage in the skin as it has no melanin for protection.
The body requires vitamin C (ascorbic acid) for collagen formation – and without it, the fibroblast cannot synthesize healthy collagen or elastin, so it may be a good idea to ensure that you get enough vitamin C, as the body cannot manufacture it.
Taking a supplement when pregnant may also be of use, but please discuss this with your medical practitioner and gynecologist.
It is recommended to take oral zinc (as picolinate) - 45 to 50 mg daily, Vitamin C - more than 1,000 mg daily and pyridoxal 5-phosphate - 50 mg daily as well as multivitamin and mineral supplements and essential fatty oils from flaxseed oil. There also seems to be benefit in taking vitamin B6 with the zinc in the prevention of striae. REFERENCE 85
Our herbal Ageless Stretch Mark Gel contains phenolic compounds, flavonoids, amino acids, soluble organic silicon, saponosids, bio-minerals and allantoins.
It is formulated with Centella. Calendula. Ginseng. Butcher’s broom. Chickweed, Green tea, Hibiscus, Horsetail, Ivy, Lady’s mantle and Marshmallow.
Hereby a short summary of the benefits of each herb:
Our unique Ageless formula is far superior to other products containing phytolastil – as they only use 3 herbal extracts
Our super effective formula contains those 3 herbal extracts, but for added effectiveness our researchers added 9 more herbal ingredients to make our formulation “a class of its own”.
Thousands of happy clients over more than a decade stand testament to the wonderful results we get to prevent stretch marks from forming and also improving the appearance of old stretch marks.
The Ageless Stretch Mark Gel can be used while pregnant and lactating.
Our gel is water based and easily absorbed – leaving no oily residue or tackiness on the skin.
Apply the gel twice day to the affected area.
If using it to help reduce the appearance of old stretch marks, improvement will be noted after 30 days of daily application – and the full results seen after about three months.
There are NO miracle cures to totally remove old stretch marks – it is physically impossible.
Newly formed blemishes respond better than old ones, but all can be treated.
Should you have very bad old stretch marks, our effective gel will NOT remove the marks, but it WILL improve the appearance of these old stretch marks.
After treating old stretch marks the appearance will greatly improve, but if you again gain excessive weight or become pregnant the marks may become more prominent once more.