So you’ve been dedicating yourself to building, bulking and sculpting that beautiful body – sweating and pumping and seeing fast, wonderful results in your physique. Then oops, what are those purple streaks on your gorgeous developing pecs? Those are stretch marks. Surprise! What, you thought only pregnant women and fat people got them? Nope, they can happen to anyone and body building is a big cause. In fact, most body builders suffer from them mostly due to not knowing how to prevent them.
Not all bodybuilders can prevent them since genetics plays a large role. Some will get them no matter what, some never do, but there are steps you can take that will go far in preventing them and reducing the appearance of ones you might already have. You’ve spent all that time and effort on your body – don’t let skin imperfections mar the results!
What causes bodybuilding stretch marks?
Simply, skin is made up of collagen and elastin fibers, a protein mesh in the skin that makes it flexible and able to stretch and recoil back to its original position. When bodybuilders are building muscle mass and putting on weight too quickly, the skin is over-stretched, damaging the collagen and elastin network. The skin tears and results in scar tissue known as « stretch marks » or « striae »
Striae also often occur as the result of steroid type hormones released from the adrenal cortex naturally by bodybuilders. The use of steroid creams such as hydrocortisone has been demonstrated to cause striae as well.
How can bodybuilding stretch marks be prevented?
First, try to not build too quickly, give your skin the chance to keep up. Losing fat as you build muscle will help to prevent over-stretching the skin as well. Take a good multi-vitamin daily and try to eat a diet rich in vitamins A, C and E and take a zinc supplement since it is essential in the production of collagen. Drink a lot of water, at least 8 – 10 glasses a day to stay well hydrated. If you smoke, quit, since smoking reduces the skin’s elasticity.
Apply a good quality cream daily that is formulated for the prevention and treatment of striae. They are designed to penetrate and nourish the skin to stimulate your skin’s production of collagen and elastin. By stimulating the cell regeneration, it helps to repair and diminish the appearance of existing scarring and protect the skin from further damage by improving the elasticity and resiliency of the skin. It provides essential elements it needs to maintain its maximum elasticity to prevent them and to recover from existing scarring.
Can striae be removed?
Unfortunately, once they are there, they are there to stay. The reddish, purplish color will fade in time, turning white or silvery so they will be much less apparent. The use of stretch mark cream will help to significantly diminish the appearance by stimulating the collagen production, thickening the epidermis to give the skin a more normal appearance as well as help prevent further damage.
Other options include laser surgery (done as an out-patient with no recovery required) which usually take several treatments with a cost of $5000 or more in total. Microdermabrasion is also used for the treatment of striae and is more affordable than laser. It works faster than cream but often the results are no better.
Prevention is always the best option!