Stretch marks, medically termed as striae distensae, are fine streaks of lines that tend to develop on the skin’s surface when the skin stretches or contracts, too fast. They can be stubborn to get rid of, which is a cause of frustration to a lot of people who experience it. They usually start off with being red or purple in color and then slowly fade to become silvery-white. Read this article to know the causes, types, treatment options and prevention tips for stretch marks on the breasts.
What Does Stretch Marks On The Breasts Mean?
Even though we usually associate stretch marks with the skin on our belly or leg, on breast is a very common phenomenon as female breasts experience several changes with time and age, when her body goes through puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. And, as a result of these changes, the connective tissues in the skin with collagen and elastin fibres tend to stretch beyond its capacity and rip, leaving behind these marks. The probability of experiencing stretch marks on the breast is further increased by the fact that the skin here is thinner in comparison to the skin in most other parts, thus making it all the more susceptible to tears and damage due to physical strain.
What Causes Stretch Marks On The Breasts?
These can appear due to a lot of factors, and it is very important to be aware of what causes stretch marks on breast, so that appropriate prevention and treatment options can be explored.
- Pregnancy – These are a result of the increase in the size of the expectant mother’s breasts because of the hormonal changes she is going through. The volume of blood increases and the mammary glands grow to prepare for breastfeeding. This state continues for as long as the mother continues to breastfeed her child.
- Puberty – The growth spurt and hormonal changes, teens go through during puberty, brings about weight gain and bodily development, which includes enlargement of breasts. This sometimes happens at a very rapid rate, causing the skin in that area to develop these marks.
- Sudden Weight Loss/Gain – Weight loss or gain is often reflected in the size of your breasts too. When this happens too quickly, the skin in this area cannot cope and adjust to the new size and can result in the appearance of stretch marks.
- Breast Implants – When a person goes in for surgical methods to increase or decrease the size of the breasts via implants or breast augmentation, the skin stretches or contracts to adjust to the new size, sometimes leaving marks.
- Effects Of Aging – As you age and near menopause, your breasts tend to lose their firmness and fullness leading to this.
Other causes include hereditary reasons, lack of hydration and exercise, hormonal changes due to birth control pills as well as medical conditions like Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and use of medications with steroids that alter hormones.
Who Is Most Likely To Get Stretch Marks On Breasts?
Recent studies show as many as 55-90% of pregnant women experiencing stretch marks. Another age group that tends to encounter this situation are teens going through puberty. Yes, stretch marks on breast during teenage years are not uncommon at all. This leaves teenagers confused, upset and highly conscious of their bodies when indulging in activities like swimming, etc. They go through a wide range of emotions during puberty owing to the hormonal upheaval and things like these can affect their self-image and confidence in a negative way.
Types And Colour Of Stretch Marks On The Breasts
They differ in color depending on the stage at which they are and also on the age of the person –
- In the early stages, they appear to be pinkish/red and then lighten to purple colour. These red stretch marks on the breast, which can also be purplish-pink, are called striae rubra.
- After this stage, they further lighten and turn silvery-white. These aged, white stretch marks are referred to as striae alba.
How To Get Rid Of Stretch Marks On Breast?
There are variety of treatment options for stretch marks mentioned below, they can be lightened and faded to a great extent and made far less noticeable –
- Laser Therapy – One of the most effective forms of treatment, laser therapy can help get rid of stretch marks on the breast, making them almost unnoticeable. Beams of laser light are used to target the deformed tissues and cause controlled thermal injury. This would break down the scar tissue and stimulate new collagen growth as a natural response of the body. A variety of laser options is available, and the dermatologist will decide on an appropriate type depending on how intense and old the stretch mark is, as well as your skin type. Some of the options are – (i) Fractional laser treatment or Fraxel laser, (ii) Pixel laser, (iii) Pulsed dye laser, and (iv) Excimer laser.
- Collagen Injection – These specific treatments treat the deficiency of collagen, which is responsible for the strength and elasticity of the skin. With this procedure, fresh collagen is injected into the affected area, which will lead to skin plumping and lightening of stretch marks. The effect of these injections doesn’t last for long, therefore, requiring multiple shots in a year to see continuously visible results.
- Advanced Microneedling Radiofrequency Techniques – Some skin clinics offer stretch mark treatment under the principle of bipolar microneedling radiofrequency. Fine needles are used to deposit heat and induce collagen production, which will tighten the skin and improve the texture. It is a totally safe form of treatment with no downtime.
- Cosmetic Surgery – This is probably the last treatment option people opt for to remove/replace the scars of the stretch mark with new skin, when all else fails. Tightening the skin on the breast with an implant or ‘lift’ helps in some cases. The loose skin envelope is refilled, and this can help make the scars less visible.
Advantages Of Laser Therapy Over Other Treatments
Laser therapy is by far the most successful stretch mark reduction treatment option, which gives consistent results by reducing the appearance of these scars remarkably. This non-surgical process employs pulses of laser light, to break down stretch marks thus reducing redness, improving the texture, and appearance of the skin on the breast.
The advantages of this procedure include –
- Enhanced flow of blood to the area in and around the breast region
- Stimulation of the immune system
- Stimulation of new skin cells as well as surrounding cells, including the ones responsible for the generation of collagen
- Improvement in the lymphatic drainage resulting in flushing out of toxins and excess fluids, through the lymphatic channels, and reduction in pain and inflammation in the treated area
How To Prevent Stretch Marks On The Breasts?
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to prevent stretch marks on the breast, since the complete elimination of these stubborn marks is not an available option, going the prevention route is all the more necessary –
- Massaging your breasts regularly in a circular motion, by using a nourishing cream/ lotion or even coconut oil will help with the blood circulation in the area to ensure that the nutrients in the skin are intact.
- A regular exercise regimen, which includes cardiovascular activities is a must to boost blood circulation all over. This enhances the skin from within with the elasticity being maintained. Also, regular exercise keeps unwanted weight gain at bay.
- A good skincare regimen that includes regular body spas and exfoliation, helps in opening up the pores and removal of dead skin respectively.
- Even though not scientifically proven enough, prescription medications can help with keeping the skin on your breasts free from such scars. Cocoa, shea and coconut butter/oil, bitter almond oil, olive oil, and vitamin E oil may be helpful helpful.
- Drink water and always stay hydrated to keep your skin nourished.
- A healthy diet with food rich in vitamin K like dairy, liver, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, etc. goes a long way in preventing as well as healing stretch marks.
As mentioned above, prevention is a way better option than cure when it comes to these stubborn streaks on your skin. But, sometimes none of these hacks work and you are left with stretch marks on your breast that leave you highly self-conscious. To find a suitable treatment, book your appointment with an expert dermatologist to help you further explore your treatment options.