Oct. 10, 2018For some, stretch marks are a badge of honor: pregnancy, a part of your life, natural weight gain. Something happened to you, and for better or worse, having the history written all over your skin for many is a mark of pride. It says, I’ve been there. I’ve done this. This is a part of my story.
For others, they’re just annoying, and that’s okay too. Whatever your feelings about your stretch marks, if there’s one thing I’m down with, it’s loving your body in YOUR way, whether it’s a constant work in progress or a masterpiece that can’t possibly be perfected. You rock that thing, and you rock it with PRIDE.
But if you’re like me and have a few stretch marks from growing not-so-tiny humans, and you’re NOT in love with them, you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of stretch mark removal. And let me tell you, it IS a rabbit hole.
Somehow, in the midst of AI and rockets zooming around the planet, we haven’t yet perfected a way to remove stretch marks from home at the user level.
I know, bigger fish to fry, first world problems and all of that, but still. We have toasters that imprint Jesus on your English muffin. We have a filter that makes it look like you’re wearing makeup when you take a selfie. How do we not have this yet?
So when I discovered red light therapy as a possible means to an end of my tiger-striped mom life, I got super pumped. I mean what, all I have to do is lie under some lights, that’s it? It doesn’t cost thousands of dollars? It’s not surgery? I figured the catch had to be that it was boloney, that it couldn’t possibly be that easy. As it turns out, it was a little of column A, a little of column B.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
First up, a science lesson. Red light often gets lumped into the same category as UV light, but the truth is that it’s anything but. Though many tanning salons offer this type of light exposure via your standard lie down coffin bed, it’s a totally different kind of bulb.
Red light does not contain any UV light, but rather, a form of light that stimulates your body’s natural production of the chemical ATP. Red light rays penetrate roughly eight to ten millimeters into your skin’s layers, triggering the release of ATP which energizes and activates the surrounding tissues. Think of it as an energy drink for your circulation and muscle tissue.
Believe it or not, red light therapy isn’t just FDA approved for anti-aging and pain relief, it was even used by NASA to speed wound healing time for their astronauts. Legit? Yeah, it’s starting to look like it.
Red light therapy may have some real applications when it comes to reducing the appearance of stretch marks, but it can do a heck of a lot more than that, improving:
Migraines and headaches
Muscle aches and pains
Hair loss and thinning
Acne and other skin conditions
Sun damaged skin
Wrinkles and other signs of aging
The Downsides to Red Light Therapy
Alright, now the other side to this coin: so far, much of the evidence for red light therapy’s anti-aging benefits and supposed stretch mark applications is pretty much anecdotal. The logic adds up, and the science is there, but there have been no conclusive studies done saying that this actually works on stretch marks.
As far as safety goes, there are little to no risk factors for it (further increasing the “why not” factor for myself). The usual rules for light therapies apply: wear eye protection and use caution if you’re pregnant (due to the overheating concern).
So Does It Work on Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are basically just tears in your skin. You grow too fast, for whatever reason, and before your skin can expand to keep up, the layers of your skin tear and scar.
Over time, they tend to fade and heal a bit on their own, but generally, they’re always there once you have them.
Alright, now down to the heart of the matter — does red light therapy actually work to get rid of stretch marks?
I wish I could tell you I had performed an exhaustive study of this and had firsthand evidence that it did or didn’t, but here’s the thing: red light therapy, in order to work, needs to be done a lot. And I don’t know if you’ve caught on to this yet, but I have kids. And a business. And generally not enough time in the day to put on a clean shirt, let alone spend 30 minutes at the tanning salon.
I went a few times, I used the stupid-expensive collagen lotion, and I noticed “eh” results for my “eh” effort — a little bit of fading, but they’re definitely still there.
The science behind the theory is sound enough — red light therapy helps to speed wound healing. It gets stagnant tissue active again at a cellular level. That said, if I had to guess, I’d say that red light therapy is likely much more effective on fresh stretch marks that haven’t had a chance to “heal” yet.
However, the science does seem to support that the more often you go and commit to the therapies, the better it works. Generally, it takes numerous sessions, about five to seven per week, done for about six months, to see some real results.
In short, it can be done, but you have to really commit and be okay with spending two to three hours of your week in a tanning salon.
Have you ever tried red light therapy? What kind of results did you get? Tell us on Facebook or Instagram and tag us in the post! @AvocadoGreenMagazine