Last updated date: 25-May-2023
Originally Written in English
What are stretch marks?
A stretch mark is a specific consequence of an individual's skin stretching or contracting rapidly. Collagen and elastin are elements that play an essential part in sustaining the human skin, tearing due to a sudden change.
Stretch marks could also develop while the skin recovers. These fine lines on the skin don't necessarily appear on everyone, as hormone fluctuations are also listed as a factor. Additionally, when someone has a family history of stretch marks, their risk of developing them may also be elevated.
Stretch marks are described as permanent streaks that can develop on one's skin, generally on the thighs, butt, hips, and breasts. The stretch mark medical term is Striae, another name for these protracted, fine, rippling marks. Even though these lines do not harm one's general health in any way, most people desire to get rid of them, considering them not aesthetically pleasing. Even while they won't actually go away, they might get better with time or with the aid of particular tools and methods.
What are some causes of stretch marks?
Stretch marks can develop for various reasons, including pregnancy, adolescence, fast weight increase or decrease, and many other factors causing the human skin to stretch or contract. As mentioned before, collagen and elastin (that influence the skin's general appearance) break down when this occurs. The most frequent causes of stretch marks development include:
- Stretch marks pregnancy. Depending on the tone of the mother's skin, stretch marks from pregnancy could be pink, red, purple, or even brown. They typically affect about 8 out of 10 pregnant women and are considered to be very common. As the pregnancy advances and the bump starts growing, they usually form on the mother's abdomen or occasionally on the upper thighs and breasts. Developing stretch marks in pregnancy is normal and should not be concerning. Since "when stretch marks pregnancy" is a general internet search, the stretch marks pregnant women develop are more likely to appear in the final three months of pregnancy because the skin covering the stomach stretches to accommodate the growing baby. Stretch marks can't always be avoided, but if the mother gains more weight than usual throughout the pregnancy, they are more likely to develop them.
- Stretch marks and weight loss or gain. It is not uncommon for stretch marks to occur after weight loss. They are pretty frequent as the skin stretches due to weight gain or quick muscle growth, and they can become even more evident when an individual reduces the body weight. As previously mentioned, even though they may not be beautiful, they, fortunately, do not point to any significant medical issues. Stretch marks from losing weight that have just appeared have a reddish or glossy color and will appear slightly elevated. They ultimately turn white as time passes. Stretch marks from weight loss that are older may resemble scars. It is important to remember that stretch marks when losing weight are very common and do not represent a medical concern.
- Stretch marks and working out. Stretch marks are more likely to develop in people that frequently engage in bodybuilding or strenuous exercise. Stretch marks may develop due to the quick increase of muscle mass on the shoulders, arms, or other body parts. Stretch marks from working out can be avoided by following a balanced diet, avoiding gaining weight rapidly, and moisturizing frequently. This is the main reason for stretch marks that men develop.
- Stretch marks in teenagers- hormonal factors. Puberty-related hormonal changes can cause the breast tissue to develop quickly, stretching the skin. Stretch marks on breasts may result from the thinning of the skin. For many girls, it is a specific aspect of adolescence.
- Stretch marks from specific cosmetic surgeries. As an example, breast augmentation may cause the development of stretch marks. However, it relies on the level of elasticity of the individual's skin and the size of the breast that is implanted. Naturally, the risk of getting stretch marks increases when a person chooses a larger implant size. Stretch marks, however, are exceedingly uncommon to appear with implants of regular size in most cases.
- Stretch marks from Cushing syndrome. Medically known as Endocrinopathies, Cushing's syndrome is a medical disease that occurs when the body consistently produces too much cortisol. Because it aids in the body's response to stress, cortisol is commonly referred to as the "stress hormone". Additionally, it keeps the blood pressure steady and controls the blood glucose. A common symptom of this disease is the development of stretch marks on specific body parts. These are generally pink or purple. Stretch marks as a side effect of corticosteroid usage. Extremely powerful topical corticosteroids can induce skin atrophy if used excessively regularly and without a break for an extended period. Even though the early thinning of the skin can disappear if the topical corticosteroid usage is stopped, using it continuously can result in permanent stretch marks.
Are stretch marks itchy?
Stretch marks develop when the skin stretches and tears at the dermis, the layer beneath the epidermis. Stretch marks are brought on by the layer below the dermis filling in due to this tearing. New stretch marks first have a pink, crimson, or purple color. Additionally, new stretch marks are more likely to itch, and they may become white as they heal.
Most stretch marks on the body run vertically, yet they can occasionally be horizontal. Skin that is healing frequently tends to itch, as the nerves react to dermal ripping by producing itchy sensations. This is also why their stretch marks could itch if an individual loses weight.
What are the types of stretch marks?
A first classification can be made considering the main reason for the development and its duration. The most frequent types of stretch marks include striae rubrae (which are the new stretch marks), striae alba (representing the older ones), and last but not least, striae gravidarum (the medical term for stretch marks developed due to pregnancy).
Stretch marks can also be classified based on the body area that is affected:
- Stretch marks on legs- stretch marks on inner thighs/ outer thighs. Stretch marks on the thighs are very common. As described above, stretch marks on the inner thighs develop when the skin expands due to medical issues, weight increase, muscle growth, or other factors, and they often go away over time. Even though stretch marks on legs are often seen on the thighs, other leg parts can also be affected. For example, one of the most frequent causes of stretch marks on knees is rapid growth, as they frequently develop during the short periods of growth and change that occur while experiencing puberty.
- Stretch marks on the stomach. Stretch marks on the stomach can happen to everyone, even though they often impact more women than males.
- Stretch marks on the back. Stretch marks on the back develop when the skin on this area is overstretched. Dermal elastic fibers are torn and scarred as a result of the strain. Rapid weight gain is a frequent cause of stretch marks on the back. Backstretch marks are caused by growth spurts throughout adolescence and are more common in men.
- Stretch marks on breasts. Teenagers may have a high prevalence of stretch marks on their breasts. While many women receive stretch marks on their breasts after pregnancy, others get them as early as adolescence. When a person's body expands, stretch marks represent a typical response.
- As an individual's skin may stretch for various reasons, these scars or lines can affect multiple other body parts and areas (for example, stretch marks on the shoulder and neck). Stretch marks on arms are also possible.
Can stretch marks go away or are stretch marks permanent?
Stretch marks are permanent, similar to any other type of scar. However, therapy may help make them less apparent. Symptoms such as irritation and itchiness may also be reduced with certain treatment options.
For stretch marks removal, stretch marks treatment can be done using a variety of conventional medical procedures as well as at-home alternatives. Yet, some of these are more effective than others.
Medical treatment for stretch marks removal
To help the marks disappear or look less visible, a dermatologist or plastic surgeon may employ lasers or other procedures and techniques, as the skin may produce more collagen with the aid of lasers. It is important to remember that stretch marks laser removal procedures can be performed in multiple ways. The most common types of stretch marks removal techniques include:
- Pulsed dye stretch marks removal laser therapy. It is considered a painless procedure that uses a harmless burst of light to treat stretch marks that are new and have a red appearance. Blood vessels under an individual's skin that might be the source of the marks are calmed by the energy of the light.
- Fractional CO2 laser therapy. It is a more recent, modern procedure that has the potential to reduce stretch marks, aiming to fade old, white stretch scars. According to research, individuals who used topical creams containing elements such as glycolic acid and tretinoin saw their stretch marks disappear almost entirely after only five sessions.
- Excimer laser therapy is a procedure that implies the stretch marks being exposed to focused ultraviolet B (abbreviated as UVB) light. Research demonstrates that therapies given over the course of one to four months can address stretch mark pigment issues, making them less visible.
- Microdermabrasion. A cosmetic procedure called microdermabrasion is performed to make an individual's skin look generally smoother. In order to remove the top layer of skin, a tool with a rough crystal or a diamond tip is applied to the skin. The process can be carried out at home, in a spa, or by a medical professional in a clinic. It typically requires several sessions before any results or benefits are noticeable, meaning that the difference in stretch marks before and after treatment will take time. When done correctly, it is thought to be safe for the majority of skin types and tones. Stretch marks can be minimized by using microdermabrasion, which is frequently used on the face to eliminate wrinkles and acne scars. Even deep or mature stretch marks may only partially disappear with this method.
- Certain cosmetic surgeries (such as a tummy tuck) may also help eliminate the skin affected by stretch marks, yet these procedures can leave scars. Additionally, patients say that they tend to be painful and expensive.
- Chemical peels. Chemical peels aim to remove the top layer of the skin, revealing new, younger-looking, healthy, fresh skin. Chemical peeling levels vary depending on the types of acids used and their potency (whether they produce a deep peel or a milder peel). One thing they all have in common is removing old, dingy tissue from the surface so that younger, fresher, and more radiant-looking tissues can replace it. A chemical peel is one method for enhancing the look and feel of one's skin. Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are frequently used in chemical peels to exfoliate surface layers that can dull the complexion. Chemical peels for stretch marks have been used for years by both men and women to improve their skin and boost their self-esteem. Chemical peels are a simple method for removing the top layer of dry skin cells from the body and promoting the formation of new cells. The result is smoother skin with less discoloration and scarring. The three full chemical peels that work best for stretch marks are salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and trichloroacetic acid, abbreviated as TCA.
- Two other techniques that are frequently used for reducing or fading stretch marks are radiofrequency and ultrasound technology.
Radiofrequency stretch marks micro needling is a cutting-edge approach to skin rejuvenation, aiming to induce the creation of collagen in the dermis and rejuvenate and tighten the skin.
Microneedling and radiofrequency help with resuming the natural production of collagen, which is interrupted by stretch marks. The excessive production of elastin and collagen will also aid in the healing of the dermis's damaged connective tissue, which is the leading cause of stretch mark development. Because it enters the skin deeply enough to produce a reaction within the same layer where the stretch marks are created rather than just lying on the surface, this therapy is also fantastic for stretch marks. It is described as a minimally invasive procedure that is quickly rising to the top of the list of cosmetic skin treatments.
The second technique, ultrasound therapy, is a medical procedure that uses innovative ultrasound equipment to diminish scars, stretch marks, and cellulite, aiming to increase the skin's elasticity and even relieve pain and stiffness.
The cost of stretch marks laser removal may vary depending on the country and the type of procedure performed. For example, the approximate cost for this operation in India ranges between 60 and 200 USD. In order to find a suitable center for the treatment of stretch marks, one can search for "stretch marks removal near me", leading to multiple close clinics performing these procedures.
How to get rid of strech marks at home?
Numerous stretch marks creams, oils, and other skin products are available. These claim that they can either prevent or treat stretch marks.
However, there is very little scientific evidence that these products function correctly. Some medical procedures and natural therapies can lighten or cover stretch marks, including:
- Self-tanner or body makeup (as stretch marks camouflage) can be used in order to hide stretch marks, covering them for a limited amount of time. However, it is essential to remember that actual sunbathing and tanning do not have any positive effects on stretch marks, making them even more evident as they remain white.
- Some say that a good option for reducing the size of stretch marks and fading them simultaneously is represented by stretch mark cream removal. Stretch marks removal creams containing retinoids (which can be described as a compound related to vitamin A) have the potential to increase collagen production, which plays an essential role in the treatment of wrinkles and stretch marks. It is believed that these stretch marks creams may also leave the skin slightly irritated and scaly. There are also stretch marks cream pregnancy-related available on the market.
- As some studies found a link between stretch marks and collagen production, one theory claims that collagen boosters can help with preventing or fading an individual's stretch marks. Examples of these include StriVectin-SD and extracts of lupin seeds. However, there needs to be more scientific evidence supporting this affirmation, and more research is needed on the topic.
- Some researchers also found that bitter almond oil massaged into one's skin, especially on the belly during pregnancy, may help reduce stretch marks development. Other moisturizers that may have the same effect are cocoa and shea butter, as well as olive oil and vitamin E oil.
For those experimenting with fading stretch marks, it is recommended to use a cream, lotion, or gel every day for a few weeks, as the results will not be immediate.
Can people prevent stretch marks from developing?
Even though stretch marks are permanent scars, and their treatment may not lead to the desired results, a few factors may help prevent them from developing. Medical professionals recommend controlling body weight and avoiding sudden weight gain or loss. Staying hydrated and having a well-balanced dietary plan that provides enough nutrients and vitamins (zinc, protein, and vitamins C, D, and E, as well as others) may also help.
Additionally, it is advised to treat new stretch marks as soon as possible after they appear on the skin. If one can't completely avoid getting stretch marks on the skin, they may try to lessen their visibility so they will be more obvious over time.
If an individual has recent stretch marks, it can help to schedule an appointment with a physician or a dermatologist. A medical professional can assist in identifying the cause of the stretch marks development and may be able to recommend treatments that are most effective for fresh stretch marks.
Are stretch marks genetic?
Experts say there is a stretch marks genetic component, so if one's mother or sibling had them, they are more likely also to develop stretch marks. However, almost 90% of the women experience these during or after their pregnancy progress.
Irregularities, known as stretch marks, can appear as bands, stripes, or lines on an individual's skin. Stretch marks result from some diseases or ailments, rapid weight gain, or quick growth, referred to as striae in medicine.
When the skin is stretched quickly, stretch marks may develop. The marks start out by looking like parallel lines of red, thinned, shiny skin, but they eventually turn pale and similar to scars. Stretch marks may have a distinct texture from healthy skin and may be somewhat depressed. They frequently appear when a lady is pregnant, and her belly grows larger and they can also be found in kids who have rapidly gained weight or grown suddenly due to puberty. The areas where stretch marks are most frequently found are the breasts, hips, thighs, buttocks, belly, and flank.
It is important to remember that stretch marks are very common and do not represent a medical concern. Despite the fact that some people find them aesthetically unpleasing, they don't indicate any dangers related to one's general health.