In the first of our monthly Question Time slots, we tackle dreaded stretch marks...

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Ever had a burning beauty or health question and needed top notch expert intelligence? Our Little Book of Experts  is here to serve you at all times, but sometimes you really need to get to the nitty gritty of a specific problem before taking action, and that’s exactly what our new Question Time slot is for. Simply send in your beauty or health dilemmas to us via Twitter , Facebook  or  Instagram  using the hashtag #GTGQT and we will select a reader question each month and ask our distinguished experts to give a straight answer. From frizz to fitness to fungal infections, our experts are on call to offer monthly counselling. First off, a question sent in by @myzestbest on Instagram…

Q: Does anything actually work to minimise stretch marks? Bio Oil is what is most often what’s recommended but there must be another solution!

Dr Anita Sturnham, GP, Skin Specialist and founder of  Nuriss

Stretch marks  are very common in both men and women and are particularly troublesome for girls after puberty and women after pregnancy. They can occur anywhere on the body where the skin has been stretched, especially the abdomen, breasts, thighs and buttocks.

They normally appear as narrow streaks or lines on the surface of the skin. Their medical name is ‘stria’ or ‘striae’. Stretch marks are often red or purple to start with, before gradually fading to a silvery white colour.

Stretch marks are triggered by anything that makes your skin stretch suddenly. When the skin stretches the middle layer of skin (dermis) breaks in places, allowing the deeper layers to show through. The dermis can be stretched due to the bodily changes we see during puberty, pregnancy and periods of weight gain.

If your stretch marks don’t seem to be linked to weight gain or growth, they may be due to another condition, such as hormonal conditions  like Cushing’s syndrome  or  Marfan syndrome , or overuse of strong steroid creams or ointments on the skin.

Most stretch marks aren't particularly noticeable and will fade over time. If you have unsightly stretch marks, or if they affect a large area of your body, you may want to try one of the treatment options available. Creams, gels, lotions, laser surgery and cosmetic surgery are all used to treat stretch marks. However, there's little medical evidence to show that these treatments are dramatically effective, so it's important to be realistic about what they can achieve.

Laser treatment and cosmetic surgery for stretch marks are options, but neither are available on the NHS, and private treatment can be expensive.

Many people feel very self conscious about their stretch marks and often feel very low about their appearance. Whatever your age or the size of your stretch marks, many cosmetic clinics have treatment solutions that may help, for instance you can combine micro-needling treatments with radiofrequency and ultrasound. In some cases ablative laser therapy, or laser ‘resurfacing’ may be recommended.

Micro-needling, which works deep within the skin layers, encourages skin rejuvenation and healthier skin formation, by triggering collagen remodelling.

Radiofrequency and ultrasonic treatments stimulate the microcirculation process within the dermal layers, which helps to boost the skin cells and promotes new collagen growth, resulting in firmer, smoother skin and improved skin texture.

Fiona Brackenbury, head of training and education at Decléor UK

For many, stretch marks can be hereditary, however, the skin condition is the main deciding factor on whether you’re more likely you are to get them.

If you have looked after the skin on your body, moisturised and conditioned it for a large percentage of your life, the risk of stretch marks is dramatically reduced. If you developed stretch marks as a teenager they may be tougher to shift but can be imporved upon if you condition your skin daily with intensive moisturising. Also be aware that if you are somebody who has sunbathed excessively, there is there is a very strong chance that you will have damaged your collagen and elastin, so the skin will be weaker. As always, high SPF is your best preventative measure, and can stop existing stretch marks from getting worse.

If you want to try a new product,  Decléor  have created a range of products that are specifically formulated to treat and prevent stretch marks. The sculpt range contains an exclusive powerful and highly effective combination of essential oils to stimulate collagen. In particular collagen no.1 which is found deep in the dermis but can stretch up to 25% in size and collagen no.3 which is found at the epidermal junction and is responsible for giving the skin density and strengthening tissue. Active serums like this are recommended to be applied directly to the skin and, due to their concentration, should always go on first in your body care routine. Decléor has also formulated a restructuring stretch mark cream to work over the top of the super serum to treat all the layers of the skin. The cream has been created with the active ingredient cucurbita pepo, which helps to repair damaged skin. It’s useful to minimise tha appearance of pink or white stretch marks and even better if used as prevention.

To find out more about stretch marks and how to reduce them, visit our  stretch marks SOS info page .

If you’ve got a beauty or health question for our experts, keep an eye on our social media feeds for our Question Time posts, then ask away! Until next month...