[By Tania Hui]
You had lost all that ‘horrible’ pregnancy weight gain. In fact, you are quite sure you are a couple of pounds lighter than before. So what’s preventing you from flaunting your body all summer? What’s stopping you from stepping out in your all-time favourite low-waist jeans to show off your curves? Oh, I get it— darn those unsightly stretch marks running across your waist! Along with cellulite and open pores, stretch marks come out tops as one of the dastardly beauty banes of women. We might be our own worst judge but there’s no denying that squiggles and jiggly bits do not project a sexy image.
There’s a variety of reasons behind these unattractive scarring of your skin, some of the commonest being pregnancy, growth spurts and sudden fluctuations on the weighing scale, be it weight gained or lost. While stretch marks might seem to appear very easily, the same cannot be said about getting rid of them. I’ve been there so I can definitely affirm to this. I can’t promise they will disappear completely but there are definitely effective ways to make them less obvious. Now isn’t that good news?
Tip #1: You are what you eat
Healthy living starts with healthy eating. Crash diets and food fads that cause our weight to yo-yo are the surest ways to sabotage your skin’s appearance. Having a good, clean diet that’s rich in vitamins and nutrients such as fruits and leafy vegetables will help provide elasticity to your skin and hence prevent stretch marks from forming. Stay well hydrated with plenty of fresh, drinking water throughout the day to keep your skin well moisturised and supple. Remember the golden words, “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”!
Tip#2: Have a good exercise regime
It might seem like exercising won’t do much but a good workout will tone up those muscles and help to make your skin look and feel better. A good exercise regime that incorporates both cardiovascular exercises and strength training with weights will help boost oxygen and blood circulation to your skin, thus helping to rebuild it; making a significant improvement to skin tone and texture and hence the appearance of stretch marks.
Tip #3: Zap them away
Medical intervention might be veering on the expensive side but many have found satisfactory outcome to their aesthetic woes with laser technology. Early stretch marks that are red in colour are best treated with the V-Beam Laser. This special pulsed dye laser is the gold standard for redness and broken capillaries and is proven to be highly effective in improving the appearance of red stretch marks, otherwise known by the medical term— striae rubra. The V Beam laser has the unique ability to selectively target and shrink the blood vessels that lend the red discoloration to early stretch marks without adversely affecting the surrounding tissues. Depending on the severity of them, it will generally takes 4 to 6 sessions done at 4 to 6 weekly intervals for optimal outcome.
Tip #4: Resurface the skin
Over time, stretch marks change in their appearance. They lost their reddish discoloration and become fainter in colour, to an almost silvery white. At this point they are known as striae alba. Once they have reached the alba phase, stretch marks are much harder to treat. To date, laser resurfacing modalities seem to be the only effective way to improve the appearance of striae alba. A new resurfacing procedure, named fractional resurfacing or Fraxel affords a new solution for the treatment of these annoying slivery white marks. Fraxel resurfaces the skin gradually, approximately 20-30% at a time and henceforth allows for rapid healing while eliminating the risk of raw skin associated with traditional ablative laser resurfacing procedures. This laser procedure is extremely safe to be used on any body parts whose surface require treatment. In fact, Fraxel is one of the few lasers that’s FDA approved for use on both the face and body.
“Patients with longstanding stretch marks will typically require 4-6 sessions of Fraxel done at monthly interval for significant improvement in the quality and texture of their skin,” explains Dr. Chua Han Boon, senior medical consultant with The Sloane Clinic. “You might not be able to fully eradicate stretch marks with any modalities available in the current market but laser resurfacing techniques certainly are the most promising thus far.”
Tip #5: Tighten and lift
Unless you are Sandra Bullock or George Clooney stuck in outer space, Gravity can sometimes be a pain. As skin moves southwards and sags with aging, the appearance of stretch marks are undoubtedly aggravated. Thermage Body, is a patented mono-polar radiofrequency treatment that is especially good for tightening sagging skin. In some patients who have loose skin with stretch marks, improving the tone and elasticity of the skin can certainly improve the appearance of their stretch marks. As a bonus, any accompany cellulite over the affected areas can be treated concurrently with Thermage and by the time summer comes round, you will be all ready with a new wardrobe selection.
* Selected as Editor’s Choice Oct 2013*