There are two things women tend to experience that can stretch their skin -- yo-yo diets that results in rapid weight gain and pregnancy. While men, especially body builders, can also get stretch marks, women are especially at risk due to their thinner skin. Early-stage stretch marks begin as pink, purple or red lesions and then eventually fade and deepen to a waxy white or silver, making them especially visible on darker skin tones. Although there is no way to get rid of them completely, there are ways to minimize stretch marks, such as topical ointments and a diet rich in vitamin C.
Foods and Supplements
Can eating an orange cure your stretch marks? No. But it can help your body prevent and minimize stretch marks by promoting healthier skin. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that your body uses to fight off toxins known as "free radicals" that inhibit healing and the formation of healthy scar tissue. It is found in high amounts in oranges, grapefruits, strawberries and cranberries. Broccoli, peppers and leafy greens are also rich in Vitamin C. The supplement is widely available, but whole foods are generally considered to be the best source of it.
Creams and Serums
Some doctors prescribe vitamin C ointments for patients prior to a dermatological procedure to aid in collagen production and healing, but topical vitamin C has not been officially studied and no scientific proof of its effectiveness exists. Despite this, over-the-counter serums and creams containing vitamin C are widely popular. Dr. Emily Kane, a naturopathic physician, states on her website that vitamin C creams can help encourage the growth of new skin and improve early-stage stretch marks, but when it comes to older stretch marks, “the basic structure of the skin has been altered, the cell layers pulled apart, and no cream is going to knit those layers back together again.”
If you have ever regularly used a tretinoin cream or gel, also known as "Retin-A," you’ve witnessed the upper layers of your skin gradually flake off and new skin emerge. So can creams with tretinoin or glycolic acid simply slough off stretch marks if you use them long enough? It is possible to significantly minimize the appearance of stretch marks, but only in their early stages. Deep, canal-like stretch marks will never disappear entirely, but they can improve with long-term use of tretinoin creams or glycolic acids. Perhaps the most-effective -- and expensive -- stretch mark treatment is laser therapy, but even lasers can only minimize stretch marks.
By regularly eating fruits and vegetables, you can give your skin a fighting chance against stretch marks before they form. Lotions and creams containing vitamin E, cocoa and shea butters have long been used to keep skin supple and increase its elasticity, helping to avoid and minimize stretch marks. Although nothing will make them completely disappear, even a small improvement in the appearance of your stretch marks can go a long away in helping you feel more comfortable in your skin.
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C.H. Cooney is a fitness enthusiast who has been writing professionally since 2009. Her healthy-living articles have been published online for CBS New York and City Guide N.Y. Her aim is to empower people to take control of their health through personal fitness and a plant-based diet.