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Stretch Marks

Is there a way to make stretch marks fade?

Question

My 16-year-old daughter is distraught that red stretch marks have appeared on her legs, tummy and upper arms, even though she has not had children. She is so embarrassed that she won’t wear a swimsuit or shorts on holiday. I know that these marks won’t disappear altogether, but is there something that you could recommend that would make them fade?

Answer

Stretch marks can be embarrassing and unsightly for both men and women. They appear on the arms, breasts, belly, lower abdomen and thighs - the areas where fat or cellulite are deposited. As most women know, they occur commonly after pregnancy.

The skin is very elastic and can be stretched quite a lot - think of the beer bellies some men have, or the way a pregnant woman's tummy expands. After that weight goes, or after the fat layer under the skin disappears because of dieting, stretch marks are left on the skin.

In contrast to wrinkles - which appear with ageing and also with fat loss because the skin loses its elasticity and collapses - stretch marks appear because the skin still has the stretchiness of an elastic band. When the need for that stretchiness goes, the skin shrinks and, though it doesn't shrivel, it shows the evidence. Many light-coloured lines appear; they generally start off pinky-red in colour, then fade to light brown. I explain to Patients that stretch marks are rather like a concertina - as the instrument is brought together, the lines which were barely visible become prominent.

People who have lost weight for lumps at the same time as stretch marks. This is because of the disintegration of the fatty layer under the skin. Think of lamb chops on the grill. As the fat melts, it forms lumps. Just the same happens with our own fat: you can often fuel the uneven bumpy lumps of fat under the skin, even though you won't be able to see them.

Stretch marks and fatty lumps are best you can use the techniques I give here for cellulite, too. Massage with special oils is very helpful. People who are going through any form of weight-loss programme, or women who have recently given birth, should use it. You can make your own cellulite treatment oil by combining l00ml linseed oil and 15ml ginger oil.

The technique involves kneading both the skin and the fatty layer under it. Use the thumb and four fingers to grip the skin, then press together as if kneading and smoothing lumpy dough. Do this for a few minutes. Next using the ball of your palm, massage across.- not along - the marks to help to firm the shrunken elastin fibres. Do this daily for at least two weeks.

In India, midwives (known as dor's) traditionally look after the mother and baby for 40 days after the birth. One of their jobs is to massage body of them daily before a bath. Soon after pregnancy mothers lose weight and the previously overstretched belly collapses. The midwives massage the abdomen to help dispel stretch marks and fatty lumps. It is seen as an essential treatment.

Applying pure aloe vera gel, which you can buy. in health food stores, or fresh aloe pulp from a plant you grow at home is very effective. This should be done last thing at night and can be repeated in the morning, if you wish. Massage across the stretch marks again, not along them. Then "knead" the fat lumps where you feel them: they are usually located in between the stretch marks. (Incidentally, aloe vera is a marvelous traditional remedy for a wide variety of skin conditions. Use it to soothe burns, grives, scalds and sunburn. It has been shown in research to help psoriasis and wound healing, although it should be used cautiously on deep surgical wounds, such as a caesarean section).

Your daughter also needs to drink a lot of water. Dehydrated skin may not respond to the treatment very well and may end up developing more stretch marks. At least two litres of pure, still water should be drunk daily.

I also recommend applying turmeric paste (mix 2 tbsp turmeric powder with a little water) once or twice a week: this is very beneficial because it helps the texture of the skin. It should be left for a couple of hours.
Yoga is also beneficial for this condition and for cellulite. Try the postures known as the cobra, boat, bow and semi-bridge.

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