MD REVIEW

Cellulite and Stretch Mark Treatments

Cellulite is more common among women due to feminine distribution of fat cells and connective tissue.

Rippling Skin

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Two common dermatology conditions can cause some anxiety: Neither is the result of dermal incision but the marks can be perma­nent. Cellulite is the formation of lumps or dimples in the skin resembling cottage cheese or orange peel. Stretch marks are atypical lines or patterned dis­colora­tions in your skin.

Some people find beauty in either condition. Such marks might be a complex problem or unsightly to others. Perhaps you want to improve your appearance by diminishing your cellulite or stretch marks. What you do about these skin condi­tions depends upon your complexion, how long you have had the marks, and your personal preference.

What Causes Cellulite?

Anatomically, fat cells protrude into the layer of skin, causing vari­ous grades of cellu­lite. Genetics, estro­gen, insulin, nora­drena­line, thyroid hormones, and prolac­tin are part of the cellu­lite produc­tion process. Cellulite is more popular among women due to feminine dis­tri­bution of fat cells and connec­tive tissue. In fact, over 80% of women develop cellu­lite at some point in their lives. Cellulite shows up less on darker skin.

Grades of Cellulite
ClassSeverityAppearance
Grade 1MildOrange Peel
Grade 2ModerateCottage Cheese
Grade 3SevereMattress-Like

Most of the hormonal causes are beyond your ability to control. Several theories about external contributing factors, including consuming too much fat and salt with little fiber, may lead to cellulite development. Smoking, lack of exercise, wearing tight elastic under­wear across the buttocks, sitting or standing most of the day can form more cellulite.

Cellulite Reduction Treatments

Most people just accept cellulite as a normal part of aging. Others aggressively combat it with various treatments for temporary improvement:

  1. Cryolipolysis is a noninvasive procedure that freezes and kills fat cells. It can take three treat­ments over 3 or 4 months for you to see results.
  2. Radiofrequency systems that usually combine mixes massage, liposuction, or light therapy show promising results for at least 6 months.
  3. During Cellulaze, a doctor injects numbing solution into the area, then shoots heat in three directions. Expect about a 75% improve­ment in your cellulite for about a year.
  4. Carboxytherapy involves inserting carbon dioxide gas under the skin. Side effects include bruising and discomfort after the procedure, but some cellulite might disappear.
  5. With subcision, a dermato­logist puts a needle under your skin to break up the connec­tive tissue bands. Results can vary but will last 2 years or more, says the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release cuts the connective tissue bands beneath the skin. According to the data, even though it's still limited, this may last up to 3 years.

What Causes Stretch Marks?

Adolescents can get stretch marks during a growth spurt. Some formerly unfit people hit the gym with a vengeance—endeavoring to bulk up or drop tens of pounds quickly. Pregnant mothers also experience rapid weight gain and skin stretching. The internet is filled with images of postpartum or post-pregnancy bellies, stomachs, thighs and “mommy bodies.”

Rodolpho Torres from São Paulo amassed more than 1.2 million Instagram followers after uploading footage documenting his approach to stretch mark ‘removal’—literally painting between individual lines.

Dermatologist, Dr. Doris Day warns, “If a tattoo is done by someone who doesn’t under­stand how to treat skin, you can end up with a scar, and a potentially worse problem, especially in an area that’s already thinner and missing some of the essential elements of skin.”

Stretch marks are essentially tears in your skin that result from rapid weight loss, weight gain, or overuse of cortisone medication. Cortisone is a hormone naturally produced by your adrenal glands. However, the excessive use of this medication can adversely effect your skin. Corti­costeroid creams, lotions, and pills can cause stretch marks by decreasing your skin’s elasticity. Adrenal gland disorders can increase the amount of cortisone in your body.

Initially, stretch marks may appear as a deep reddish color (striae rubra). Compared to other types of stretch marks, these are easiest to treat with appropriate ointments. The marks slowly fade to white or silver over time.

White stretch marks (striae alba) are more challenging to treat. Over time, blood vessels narrow, making it hard to stimulate collagen production. striae distensae have less elasticity, more roughness, and lower dermal density than normal skin.

Treatments For Stretch Marks

Do not expect any treatment to eliminate stretch marks. The aim is to minimize their appearance. You may prefer to ignore them. This is arguably more difficult for a woman than a man. The AAD has reviewed a number of techniques that may be successful in reducing the appearance of stretch marks. Some options are also useful for fading cellulite:

Cellulite and Stretch Mark Treatments
  1. Exfoliation removes excess dead skin. This can be a catalyst for other treatments.
  2. Topical creams and ointments have limited effect, as results are depend upon complexion, color and maturity of stretch marks.
  3. Microdermabrasion by a certified dermatology professional can reduce the appearance of white stretch marks by stimulating the upper layer of skin (epidermis) to tighten collagen and elastin fibers.
  4. Microneedling targets the middle layer of skin called the dermis. During this procedure, tiny needles trigger collagen production and skin regeneration.
  5. Laser therapy is a common treatment option to remove white stretch marks. In the procedure, lasers penetrate the skin, triggering regeneration. This stimulates the tissues around your stretch marks to heal at a faster rate.

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2015 found virtually no difference between pregnant women who applied lotion containing cocoa butter and vitamin E to the abdomen, breasts, and thighs and those who used a placebo.

Keeping your weight within a healthy range by regularly exercising and eating well can help prevent stretch marks from sudden weight fluctuation. Discuss invasive remedies with several doctors since some procedures may cause additional scarring or have other side effects.

To support the writing of useful articles about dermatology, ClinicalPosters sells human anatomy charts, scientific posters and other products online. Slide extra posters into DeuPair Frames without removing from the wall or leave an encourag­ing comment to keep the work going.

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