by Lisa Henning
Original Article published in ABC Magazine – Sussex
The best time to heal pregnancy stretch marks is while they’re still fresh, those delightful shades of red and pink. Once they’re white and mature, creams and potions will have little effect and a different approach is needed.
Let’s begin with prevention. The simple theory to preventing stretch marks is keeping the skin nourished and more elastic during pregnancy, so it can stretch without tearing in the deep layers. It’s in these deep layers that our body produces the collagen and elastin fibres that give skin its firmness. When skin has to stretch considerably in a relatively shortspace of time, the deep layers need to stretch without tearing, and it’s these tears that show through as stretch marks.
Stretch mark prevention creams work by feeding and nourishing the deep layers of skin, healing, thickening and elasticising the skin so it can stretch without damage. Some creams even help ease the incessant itching that happens as the skin is stretching, again showing that healing and prevention is happening. I stock the RégimA Scar Repair & Anti-Stretch Complex.
While stretch marks are still shades of red and pink they are healing and this is when you can really help yourself. The same RégimA cream can now be used to heal damaged skin. The stretched area again needs feeding and nourishing, and this will give the best opportunity to regain firmness and for any stretch marks to mature quickly, thicken and begin to blur away.
If you like oils, for prevention and to heal, Rosehip oil is truly wonderful. It’s the skin elasticity oil, with naturally occurring high levels of Vitamin E, Vitamin A and essential fatty acids. Like the RégimA cream it assists with skin healing. During pregnancy it should be used neat (without any essential oils), but it does have a bit of a fatty oil smell.
Once stretch marks are mature (white), the skin has settled. Creams and potions will have minimal, if any, effect as the tissue is now essentially stuck in this damaged state. You need to wake it up and give it a chance to heal again. This is where clinic based treatments are advised as home based treatments have little effect, or are simply dangerous. I’m talking here about the inappropriate use of skin needling devices, such as a derma roller. Just because you can buy one, doesn’t mean you should use it. For obvious reasons I’ll not go into how to use a derma roller but will simply say, as a trained professional I’m only allowed to use depths up to 1.5mm, while doctors and nurses can use depths over 2mm. Safe home use is up to 0.3mm, this is because at this depth you are not going into blood levels and the risks associated with such treatments.
Skin needling is proven to reduce and improve the appearance of mature stretch marks by causing new collagen and elastin to grow as a response to the needling. But not all skin needling devices give the same level of result. On stretch marked skin the derma roller alone is not the best treatment, it causes new collagen and elastin at the same level in damaged and undamaged skin, a roller cannot be precise. A derma roller, for those who’ve not heard of one before, is a small handheld device with a few hundred needles on a roller, and looks like a lawn aerator for the skin. Yes exactly! Why would you want to do that to yourself?
I have developed a two-fold skin needling treatment, dry tattooing and derma roller combined, to help reduce and improve mature stretch marks and stretched skin. The derma roller is for skin tightening and dry tattooing is for the individual stretch marks. Dry tattooing uses a digital tattoo machine and no pigment. Good numbing creams are used and the treatment itself is surprisingly painless during and after. Whilst this is tattooing, specialised training is required as damaged skin reacts differently to normal skin, and further damage can easily be caused. Those specialising in permanent makeup treatments may take an advanced training course to offer dry tattooing for scars and stretch marks, as the same machine is used.
Wonderfully, one of the results of skin needling, and most visibly with dry tattooing with its intense and precise stimulation, is a natural return of normal pigmentation. So yes, those white shiny stretch marks can look visibly reduced simply because the colour looks more normal! This is unlikely to happen with other stretch mark treatments such as laser or carboxy therapy as only the deep layers of skin are treated, missing the layers where melanin is created alongside the new tissue.
The same process of healing stretch marks by dry tattooing can be applied to scar tissue. Once scars are six months old dry tattooing can brush through any scar tissue, allowing it to re-heal smoothly, and again helping the tissue return to a more normal colour.
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