Dr Stephen Barker MB BS BSc MS FRCS is the inventor and medical director of Secret Saviours. He is a consultant surgeon with a career in medicine that spans more than thirty years. He remains a practising consultant for general surgery at the Care UK, Independent Treatment Centre in North East London.
They are very common in pregnancy, with some studies suggesting as many as nine out of ten mums-to-be developing these unsightly streaks (1), but they can also spring from teenage growth spurts and rapid weight gain.
It’s impossible to predict who will get them, although multiple pregnancies, large babies, ethnicity and family history can all increase the odds of getting Striae gravidarum, (2, 3) as doctors call them. And while many expectant mums massage in moisturisers and oils in the hope of heading them off, there is very little evidence most potions and lotions currently available will make any difference (4, 5).
But now a leading vascular surgeon and a professor of tissue engineering have teamed up to develop Secret Saviours, a unique system to save your skin. Secret Saviours is scientifically proven to help prevent or significantly reduce stretch marks during pregnancy. The specially designed Anti Stretch Mark Band , combined with a Day Gel and Night Cream containing evidence-based active ingredients (6), spreads the stresses and strains on the skin, which helps head off the development of stretch marks. The Day Gel and Night Cream in addition, keep the skin well moisturised, soft, smooth and supple and help with keeping skin damage to a minimum.
If a tiny skin tissue tear does occur at any of these stress sites, the random pattern of pads on the Anti Stretch Mark Band effectively provide a protective barrier, which can prevent it from turning into a full-blown stretch mark.
But you don’t have to take our word for it that it works. A clinical trial presented at the American Association of Dermatology has confirmed that Secret Saviours helps keep up to 70% of women entirely free of stretch marks and in another 20% very significantly reduces both the number and overall severity of stretch marks that do still form.
To understand the science behind Secret Saviours, it helps to have a heads up on stretch marks and what gets them started – although if you’re squeamish you may want to skip this bit.
Our skin is laid down along predictable lines, known as Langer’s lines. They are named after Karl Langer, an Austrian with a thing for anatomy who used a mini ice pick to puncture corpses to see what type of hole it made in the skin. He noticed that the oval shapes ran along lines – which we now know as Langer’s or cleavage lines – and he used them to map the human body in much the same way as the topographical lines on a map show hills and valleys. If you need an operation, your surgeon will probably cut along one of these Langer’s lines as this will minimise scarring.
The experts who invented Secret Saviours – our vascular surgeon and our professor of tissue engineering – noticed that stretch marks always seem to run at right angles to the body’s Langer’s lines.
That got them thinking. What if stretch marks form in the same way as stress fractures occur in metal?
They suspected that problems stemmed from stresses and strains building up at a specific spot in the dermis, the middle layer of the skin, which is made up of a flexible network of interconnected fibres.
Imagine the dermis is like a piece of paper. If you hold a sheet of paper between the forefinger and thumb of both hands and try to pull it apart without twisting, you’ll find it’s actually surprisingly strong.
Now make the tiniest tear on the edge of the sheet and pull it apart in the same way. As you’ll see, it takes much less force to turn that nick into a substantial tear.
Our experts suspected the dermis was like that sheet of paper and as it adjusts to the stresses and strains of a developing pregnancy, tiny little micro tears begin to form at pressure points and eventually, if the pressure continues, the dermis is partially torn.
The top layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, keeps everything together – but there’s no hiding damage to the dermis, those itchy red lines we know as stretch marks.
Estimates on how many women get stretch marks during pregnancy vary. Some studies suggest up to 90% of women with a baby on board will have some by the time they deliver their little bundle, while others put it between 50% and 90% (7, 8).
But whatever way you look at it, that’s a heck of a lot of angry looking red lines. It’s difficult to predict who will get them, but studies suggest being a younger mum, a family history of stretch marks, gaining excessive baby weight and having a larger baby all increase the odds (9, 10). Skin colour will also be related, with Asian and black women at greater risk of getting Striae gravidarum.
If you have any further questions about stretch marks please email Dr Stephen (firstname.lastname@example.org)