Stretch Marks

Stretch Marks

stretch marks

Striae, or stretch marks, can appear on the skin when it is stretched beyond the surface area it normally covers, such as with rapid weight gain or pregnancy.

These marks begin by having the appearance of by being red or purplish in color, and later they can become glossy and streaked with silver and white.

Stretch marks are not a medical concern, but instead fall into the cosmetic category of skin conditions. 75 percent to 90 percent of women will develop stretch marks during a pregnancy.

What can cause Stretch Marks to Occur?

These marks are generally caused by rapid stretching and then shrinking of the surface area the skin covers. This commonly happens with pregnancy (where it is seems to occur quite commonly), rapid weight loss/gain, and other such circumstances. The stretching occurs in the dermis, which is the middle layer of the skin. When stretching occurs too rapidly the skin can become damaged and the dermal area can break down, causing stretch marks to occur.

Men and women can both get stretch marks on many different parts of the body which often include the thighs, stomach, legs, upper arms, chest, breasts, and on the lower back as well. These marks can occur at any age.

Stretch marks can also occur due to lack of nutrition. If this found to be case (by your general care doctor, dermatologist, or other health care professional) consuming foods high in zinc such as nuts or fish can be beneficial. Other foods that help prevent this are those rich in Vitamin A and C such as citrus fruit and juices. Finally, the consumption of foods rich in protein such as eggs also help prevent stretch marks from occurring.

Basic Prevention and Treatment of Stretch Marks

Since rapid stretching and shrinking of the skin is common for many different reasons, there are steps that can be taken to help prevent this from happening. Staying hydrated makes the skin moist and smooth; it decreases the chance of the skin stretching beyond its capacity. Excessive caffeine can increase the chances of developing stretch marks (as caffeine is a diuretic). The effectiveness of any kind of treatments is limited by skin tone, age, and diet. If these preventative measures prove to be inadequate, there are creams and lotions over the counter that can help with stretch marks.

Advanced and Surgical Treatments for Stretch Marks

If preventative measures and over the counter remedies are unsuccessful in treating stretch marks, there are stronger measures that can be applied (of course under the discretion and guidance of a general care doctor or dermatologist). These methods include the surgical procedures of dermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser surgery.

Dermabrasion is a procedure that helps resurface the skin by careful surgical scraping of the affected area. This method is often used to help fix damaged parts of the face due to accident or surgery. Another reason this is used is to help get rid of wrinkles and lines on the face.

stretch marks

A chemical peel is a procedure that uses a chemical solution to help repair the damaged outer layer of the skin. This helps not only with stretch marks, but it helps remove facial wrinkles, blemishes, and even uneven skin tone or coloration.

Laser surgery works to reduce the effects of stretch marks by stimulating the area of the mark from the bottom up and then increasing the presence of collagen. Collagen makes the skin thicker and plump, filling the stretch mark from the inside.

In previous years, laser surgery for stretch marks was uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. Now, new techniques in laser surgery reduce pain and discomfort associated with this procedure.

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