In this article, we shall tell you all about stretch marks. To begin with, what exactly are stretch marks? They are basically fine lines on the body which are caused due to a variety of reasons.
They happen if the skin is pulled or stretched by rapid growth. The skin is fairly elastic in itself, but if it is overstretched, there is a disruption in the production of collagen, which is the major protein that is responsible for the connective tissue in the skin. Thus, the result is scars, which we call stretch marks. One thing you need to know about stretch marks is that they are really quite common – so if you think you’re the only one suffering from the problem, you’re not alone. Many girls and women out there have stretch marks, on the breasts, hips, backside, and thighs. They are also a common occurrence during pregnancy. And even guys can get stretch marks, though they’re more common among females.
Stretch marks are usually reddish or purplish lines that usually appear indented hey also tend to have a different texture from the surrounding skin. They usually become lighter and disappear with the course of time. Body builders can get stretch marks due to the rapid changes in body weight that their exercises may cause. In fact, stretch marks are also common among people who use creams or ointments that contain steroids for a long duration.
Causes of Stretch Marks –
Now let’s discuss the causes of stretch marks in detail. They are caused when the skin is stretched to the point of breaking down – it’s a process that is similar to a piece of elastic losing its elasticity. When the elastin and collagen in the skin are lost, then a person gets stretch marks. Stretch marks can be caused due to rapid growth, hormonal changes, pregnancy, and other kinds of natural causes. What happens is basically this – the dermal collagen is damaged, and the dilation in blood vessels causes reddish-purple colored marks – these are stretch marks.
Stretch marks developed in the dermis, which is the middle, elastic layer of the skin. The dermis has the collagen in it, which lets your skin stretch and shrink back into the original shape, but if this layer is continuously stretched over a long duration of time, then there is a breakdown in the elasticity, and thus stretch marks are causes.
Stretch marks can be caused by rapid weight gain (even pregnancy), children who have become obese quickly, or even due to abnormal collagen formation. Some people may be more prone to stretch marks than others, due to genetic factors.
Now that you know that stretch marks are caused due to fluctuations in body weight, you need to control your weight, and also moisturize regularly. Always avoid having dry skin. If you are prone to dry skin, then apply shea butter on your skin regularly. After showering, don’t rub your body down, simply pay dry with a towel gently, and then let the water naturally evaporate.
Also maintain a balanced diet – this will take care of your skin. Drink lots of water, at least 10-12 glasses a day. Avoid too much tea, coffee, and don’t smoke either, as this lowers the level of oxygen in your blood. Enhance your diet with green leafy vegetables and lots of fruits, don’t forget the vitamins. Do exercise regularly to keep the stretch marks at bay, because this encourages better circulation of blood, and thus your skin is overall much healthier. Go for a massage at least once a week, this will keep your skin supple. Use massage oil, as this will definitely work wonders for your skin.
So how can one treat stretch marks? Well, since the elasticity has been lost, they don’t go away entirely, but you can massage your skin with a massage brush to increase the circulation of blood. Moisturizing cream can be applied to keep the skin soft and supple, and do take care of your diet as well – eat foods rich in zinc, silica and Vitamins C and E. Vitamin E oil is known to be beneficial in treating stretch marks, Vitamin A is also a pretty good emollient. Try cocoa butter, as many women swear by it, for the treatment of stretch marks. You can also consult your doctor for other foods or creams that you can use, to treat your stretch marks. Ask for prescription creams that contain tretinoin or retin A, but don’t use these when you are pregnant. You can also try fruit acids (AHAs) which moisturize the outer layer of skin, thus making it more pliable. They assist in the regeneration of cells by removing the outer layer, and thus the healthier ones rise to the surface – this gives an improvement in the texture and color of the skin. Plus, AHAs have water-binding properties; therefore your skin becomes more flexible and smooth. Do remember to drink lots of water and get regular exercise, as these have major benefits.
Surgical Removal –
If you are interested in getting surgical treatment to remove your stretch marks, you can try laser therapy. It is rather expensive; you would need 5-6 sessions. In laser surgery, a narrow beam of light is transmitted through the skin, which helps to stimulate the cells in the dermis, thus new tissue is formed. Today, you can choose from many kinds of laser therapies which are available to treat different kinds of stretch marks. Laser therapy also encourages the production of collages, which thickens the skin under the stretch mark, making it closely resemble the surrounding normal skin.
In fact, studies have shown that surgical removal of stretch marks is extremely effective, and that even 6 months after the first laser session, there is an improvement in the appearance of stretch marks. Current laser technology has come a long way in improving red or raised scars, or even eliminating them completely.