While DIY acne treatments, facial masks, and other homemade beauty tricks might seem like a recent trend among millennials, consumers at large have always been curious about taking skin care into their own hands with simplified home remedies. But over time, it seems science is proving grandmother’s favorite beauty secrets may not be performing as well as we believe. One such home remedy at question is vitamin E as a treatment for stretch marks.
While we’re all for taking control of your own beauty routines, we’re here to set the record straight on the vitamin E versus stretch marks debate—does it work?
What are stretch marks and what causes them? Simply put, stretch marks are scars caused by the extreme and rapid stretching of skin that results in a tear. This tear occurs in the dermis or middle layer of skin. As collagen fibers break and blood vessels begin to show through, stretch marks begin to form as purple, deep red, or brown scar-like marks that lighten in tone over time.
While a variety of factors may contribute to your likelihood of developing stretch marks at some point during your life, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) lists genetics, hormones, ethnicity, rapid weight or muscle gain, puberty, pregnancy, and even corticosteroid use as some of the top factors affecting our risk of developing stretch marks. Rapid weight loss, while often listed as a stretch mark risk factor, is more accurately associated with stretch marks simply appearing more prominent as skin loosens, rather than being the cause of stretch marks.
So, can vitamin E really erase or even prevent stretch marks?
There may be plenty of anecdotal evidence and vitamin E products advertised as stretch mark treatments that seem convincing, but when it comes down to the science, studies say the proof isn’t there. Vitamin E is a proven powerful antioxidant that’s naturally present in skin, but levels can become depleted over time due to sun damage and age. Applying a daily serum or cream that contains vitamin E can better support and defend skin against environmental aggressors like pollution that cause premature aging through free radical damage, while also adding moisture to the skin. But there is no way in which topical vitamin E (and even vitamin E supplements) can have all the effects on damaged skin cells that is required to improve the appearance of stretch marks.
That doesn’t mean there’s no hope for stretch mark removal. In fact, there are some foolproof ways to improve the appearance of stretch marks that can replace your vitamin E topical.
For a treatment to have a visible effect on the appearance of stretch marks, the treatment must increase collagen and elastin production, support fibroblast activity and blood circulation, and promote overall cell renewal in the affected area. While treatments cannot remove a stretch mark per se, those that meet the listed criteria can certainly diminish the appearance of stretch marks so they are no longer easily visible.
Topicals containing hyaluronic acid or tretinoin have been proven effective in treating stretch marks, though more time may be required to see desired results. There are also a variety of non-surgical medical aesthetics treatment options that offer substantial results. Microneedling is one such option, which works by creating microdermal wounds in the treatment area to spur reparation and promote healthy skin cell turnover for improved tone and texture.
Another option for reducing stretch marks is radio frequency-based skin resurfacing treatments, which are safe and effective for patients of all skin tones. Unlike microneedling, which only involves needles, this skin resurfacing treatment works with needles that also deliver heat (via radio frequency) to deeper layers of the skin. This enhances the production of collagen and elastin, and can produce faster, more noticeable results.
To learn more about Venus Viva™ skin resurfacing treatments or to explore more options for the treatment of stretch marks, contact a certified treatment provider near you using the search field below.