Stretch marks, medically known as striae distensae, are an extremely common finding in both men and women who are past puberty. Stretch marks typically appear as bands of parallel lines on your skin. These lines are a different color and texture than your normal skin, and they range from purple to bright pink to light gray. When you touch stretch marks with your fingers, you might feel a slight ridge or indentation on your skin. Sometimes, stretch marks feel itchy or sore.
They appear as linear, thinned skin most often found on the breasts, abdomen, hips, and thighs. Under the microscope, they appear similar to scar tissue. No curative treatment has been developed; however, moisturizers, massage, microdermabrasion, and laser resurfacing may improve their appearance. Stretch marks aren’t dangerous, and they often disappear over time.
Stretch marks signs and symptoms
Stretch marks do not generally produce any symptoms but have a characteristic visual appearance no matter when they appear or what the cause. They initially appear as raised pink to purple lines longitudinally arranged over the abdomen, lateral upper thighs, inner arms, or upper breasts. With time, the purplish-pink color lightens and they appear as silvery lines on the skin, similar to a scar. The purplish-pink scars are termed striae rubra, while the silvery lines are termed striae albae. Stretch marks can also occur in dark-complected people where they appear as dark-brown lines, which are termed striae nigrae. In short, stretch marks are scars that are permanent once formed.
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks are a result of skin stretching and an increase of cortisone in your system. Cortisone is a hormone naturally produced by your adrenal glands. However, having too much of this hormone can make your skin lose its elasticity. Stretch marks may also appear due to the rapid hormonal changes and growth associated with puberty, during pregnancy, or with medical diseases, such as Cushing syndrome, Marfan’s syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and other adrenal gland disorders which increases the amount of cortisone in your body.
Prevention of stretch marks
While it is true that stretch marks may not be preventable in conditions such as pregnancy due to the physiological changes normally associated with it, a lot can still be done in preventing stretch marks in persons who are not pregnant. For instance, regular exercise and healthy diets are key in preventing the stretch marks that usually accompany overweight and obesity. In the same vein, people should avoid prolonged use of steroid creams and pills which tend to damage the skin leading to stretch marks.
Stretch Marks Treatment
The treatment for stretch marks is limited, and there is no curative treatment. The most invasive therapies for stretch marks involve physician-administered laser surgery. Improvement in stretch marks with laser therapy is accomplished by wounding the scarred skin and hoping that the newly healed skin will have a more normal, cosmetically acceptable appearance. Medical reports of Nd:YAG laser, radiofrequency devices, and fractional photothermolysis have shown some degree of improvement in stretch mark appearance but not resolution.
The earlier the stretch mark is treated, generally the better the result. Red immature stretch marks are more amenable to treatment than those that have matured to a silvery white. This is because the reddish stretch marks are still healing, and the healing can be modified by intervention. Sometimes, camouflage (the use of cosmetics) is the best option to hide the scars.
A spa treatment for stretch marks is the use of microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion uses a spray head to bombard the skin with tiny salt crystals, baking soda, or aluminum particles to literally sand the skin, a process medically known as exfoliation. While microdermabrasion can temporarily smooth any rough skin around the stretch mark, it cannot remove the stretch mark or make the scar permanently smooth.
Stretch Marks Home Remedies
A variety of products can be purchased over the counter for improving the appearance of stretch marks. There are anecdotal stories of cocoa butter, emu oil, vitamin E, and other oils aiding in the prevention and treatment of stretch marks. Another option is an over-the-counter moisturizing cream for stretch marks containing onion extract with hyarolunic acid and centella asiatica, which is in development. The most common dermatologist-recommended treatment for stretch marks is massage. Massaging the skin in a circular motion with oil on the finger to reduce friction is helpful in stretching the skin collagen and elastin, making it more pliable and more normal appearing.
In conclusion, considering the mental torture these ugly scars can cause a person who has them, it is best to note that they are better prevented than cured since there is no cure. If after you have done all to prevent and treat stretch marks and nothing changes, I would say “Rock your body because someone else is envious of it.”