What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are fine lines of thin stretched tissue that may appear on the body, often during rapid weight gain or pregnancy. Naturally, our skin is very flexible. However, during rapid growth, the production of collagen is disrupted (collagen is a protein found in our skin that makes up most of the connective tissue giving it a smooth texture).
This leads to reddish lines on your skin with a rough texture that will eventually turn grayish or white before fading. They can affect both men and women, however, they are more prevalent in women, especially during pregnancy. The medical term for stretch mark is stria.
These usually start as red lines on the skin that are slightly lifted. The color of the stretch marks depend on the color of the skin of the person has it. They may sometimes look pink, reddish brown or dark brown.
They are quite similar in lines. The appearance of the skin mark is lean and grey and sometimes will appear like a scar. They are usually pale and happen to be less obvious. These can appear on any skin area that has been stretched. They are usually seen on parts of the skin where fat is stored, like in the tummy, breasts, thighs and buttocks.
It is a wrong notion that only woman can have stretch marks since they are the only ones capable of conceiving. Even men can get this condition as pregnancy isn’t the only cause of it.
These marks form when the skin is suddenly stretched. The outer layer of the skin is not really affected by this, but the dermis becomes thinner and develops insignificant tears.
Heredity can also play a role in the development of stretch marks. Some people are naturally born with dry skin that is less elastic than that of other people. In these instances, it will require less body change in a short period of time to develop stretch marks. Also, many steroids which are taken through contact with the skin can cause stretch marks in one’s body.
Causes of stretch marks
The following conditions can cause this condition to appear:
- Pregnancy – Almost 90 percent of women who got pregnant develop stretch mark on the areas of tummy, legs or thighs, breast and shoulders. Normally, this pregnancy stretch mark appears on the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. Apart from having a baby, often times people who are obese, people who have excess amounts of body fat.
- Development of adolescence – Boys often get stretch marks on their shoulder while girls get them on their hips, thighs and breast since they tend to grow quickly.
- Athletes – Athletes who train or go to the gym to become bigger and stronger sometimes get stretch marks.
- Weight loss/weight gain – Putting on a lot of weight over a short time can also cause stretch marks. And if you are on a diet and intended to lose weight, there is a possibility that you will get these marks.
Can stretch marks be removed
Stretch marks will eventually fade over time, although they will never naturally be removed from your skin. There is really no known treatment that will totally remove skin striations once you get them.
There are a few medical operations and products that you can use to help remove the stretch marks from your body, ranging from surgery to a variety of creams available which claim to help remove stretch marks.
You might want to try these initial treatments that could help you to slightly fade stretch marks:
Moisturizers and creams – Creams containing alpha hydroxyl acid (AHAs) can help reduce stretch marks. Creams are not yet proven to prevent stretch marks but they may lessen the ugly appearance of stretch marks.
Laser surgery for stretch marks– this does not really remove them, but it can help make the marks less obvious.
Conventional Surgery – this is a very expensive and extreme option but it can remove stretch marks bellow the belly button.
How to reduce stretch marks
These operations and creams are very expensive and most of them are not very good or are dangerous, so prevention might be your best route of action on how to reduce getting them.
Research has also shown that a healthy balanced diet helps reduce the chances of stretch marks. A healthy and balanced diet will enable you to maintain a healthy weight. Diets that can cause your weight to change quickly can make those stretch marks.
Make sure that you are drinking a sufficient amount of water daily. It is also important not to drink excessive amounts of caffeine found in coffee, soda, and other drinks, as caffeine will help weaken the dermis, the layer of skin which gives it elasticity.
Your diet should include protein rich foods such as eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products. Zinc rich foods like fish, as well as foods rich in vitamins will also help. A proper intake of fruits, vegetables, dairy and grain foods can all help reduce your chances of developing these unsightly marks.
You also have to massage your skin every day with a moisturizer in order to improve the blood circulation that encourages new tissue to appear. The importance of eating healthy foods cannot be over emphasized because it helps in keeping healthy skin.
Do stretch marks go away
Once you get them, the chances of stretch marks going away as if nothing happened is very slim. Sure, it may not be very visible but it will be there.
These are a truly unfortunate condition to get but there are certain times in your life where the chances of having them are high. These circumstances, such as pregnancy may make it very difficult to avoid getting these marks. In these cases talk to a dermatologist (skin doctor) to determine what treatment is best for you if they do develop on your skin.