Stretch marks are commonly faced nuisance by everyone. Most people assume that stretch marks are problems faced only by women who have undergone childbirth. However, anyone can get stretch marks by simply putting on a few pounds within a short span of time.
As this website explains, stretch marks are the bundle of long thin rippled lines on your skin that give your skin an undesirable stretched appearance. They can be of different colors ranging from purple to pink to a bluish tinge. If you run your fingers across the stretch marks, you may feel ridges along the marks. They can occur anywhere in the body but tend to occur mostly in the thighs, buttocks, arms, stomach, and breasts.
What causes stretch marks?
When you gain weight rapidly, your skin doesn’t have enough time to grow at the same rate as you gain fat. As your skin becomes incapable of growing as fast, it gets stretched resulting in reduced skin elasticity. However, gaining weight and becoming pregnant are not the only reasons for developing stretch marks. Here are the major reasons you develop stretch marks.
- Pregnancy: As Edel Pons Suarez, General Director of Pons Medical Group (https://surrogacybypons.com) explains “During pregnancy, the skin stretches widely to adjust for the growing baby. This continued rapid growth can result in the development of stretch marks around the belly.
- Rapid weight gain or rapid growth: When the body grows too rapidly, by either gaining weight or by having a growth spurt, the skin stretches beyond its normal limits to accommodate the rapid growth.
- Certain medications: Corticosteroids decrease the skin’s stretching ability. Whether it is in the form of creams or pills, they can result in the formation of stretch marks.
- Elevated Cortisone levels: Diseases such as Marfan’s syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, etc. can disrupt the normal cortisone levels. As cortisone plays a major role in the development of stretch marks, these diseases can result in their formation.
Treating your stretch marks
Although most stretch marks gradually fade and disappear, there are some treatments that can help accelerate this process. However, it is important to understand that stretch marks cannot be completely removed and can only be made to appear less obvious.
Some of the ways to diminish the appearance of stretch marks are:
- Tretinoin: Also known as Retin-A, it is available in the form of a cream. It can stimulate collagen formation underneath the skin and improve skin’s elasticity. Tretinoin works best when applied on new stretch marks, but it can also be used on older stretch marks.
- Laser therapy: Fractional lasers such as fractional CO2 lasers or fractional photothermolysis can stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin under the skin. It may be unsuitable in darker skinned people as it can result in hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.
- Microdermabrasion can remove the older damaged skin by polishing it with tiny crystals. This procedure can promote the growth of newer skin with better elasticity under the stretch marks.
- Collagen boosters: Certain medications and stretch marks topical creams can be found on the market that claims to boost collagen production and enhance fading of stretch marks. However, there have not been controlled clinical studies on the efficacy of these boosters.