Stretch marks are narrow streaks that are formed on the skin and are visible from the outer part of the skin including the thighs, tummy, breasts, hips, lower back and upper arms. Stretch marks occur when there is a sudden stretch of the skin, and they form in the middle skin layer. Stretch marks are associated with obesity, puberty, pregnancy and quick weight gain. The middle layer of the skin that is known as dermis is overstretched more than it can hold. Medical practitioners refer to stretch marks as Striae. Stretch marks ado not poses health problems because they are harmless. Though harmless, they can be treated through stretch mark removal. Below are different forms of stretch marks:
Striae the common term for a stretch mark that is used by many medical personnel. Striae composes of all types of stretch marks. When these stretch marks appear they usually purple, red or pink in colour. After sometimes, they fade and turn to a silvery colour that is less noticeable. At least 90% of the women are subjected to developing stretch marks. They are less common in men than in women.
2. Striae atrophica
Striae atrophica is a common type of stretch marks. It is caused by wasting away of various components of the skin. The skin contains a protein that is called elastin, which enables the skin to be flexible and elastic. Once the skin has stretched, it cannot go back to its original form. This is what causes tears that are referred to as the stretch marks on the skin. Striae atrophica are caused by quick weight gain or rapid loss of weight or corticosteroid treatment.
3. Striae distensae
This type of stretch marks is common in young people who are in puberty stage. This is because the organs or body parts of the youth in this bracket usually experience weight fluctuations and rapid growth spurts. Linear lines known as striae distensae are thus formed on the skin on body parts such as the abdomen, buttocks, thighs and back. This type of stretch mark is also common in pregnant women.
4. Striae gravidanum
Striae gravidanum is a type of stretch that is specific to pregnancy. They are the normal striae but their primary cause is pregnancy. They usually appear on thighs, abdomen, and buttocks and at other times in the breasts. 90% of the pregnant women get striae gravidarum on the third trimester. Hormones that are released during pregnancy affect the skin stability, and this makes the skin tear with easy.
Vergetures are similar to striae but they occur in a particular pattern. They appear in long lines resembling whip lashings. They are as a result of puberty and pregnancy, and they occur on men’s’ backs. Vergetures have a deep red colour but like other stretch marks, they will eventually fade.
Stretch Mark Treatment
Like any other disease, stretch marks are also treated so that the skin can be free from those lines that are not so appealing to the eyes. Treatment ranges from gels, creams, laser, lotion and cosmetic surgery. Most times, stretch marks fade over time, but it is your choice to take a treatment if you feel you cannot wait for them to disappear. The on-going research and advances in technology have shown a bright future for effective stretch mark removal. Below are different treatments of stretch mark removals:
1. Creams, oils and topical preparations
Topical preparations are the use of creams on the body parts that are likely to develop stretch marks before they are formed. It is used mainly by pregnant women, on their stomach so that they do not develop stretch marks in the later stages of their pregnancies. Anti-stretch mark creams that contain rosehip oil, hydroxy Roli silane-C, vitamin E and Centella Asiatica triterpenes work well for pregnant women, and the cream prevents the appearance of new stretch marks and stops the existing stretch marks from progressing.
2. Tretinoin cream
Tretinoin creams are products that contain retinoic acid and they easily result in congenital defects. Tretinoin should not be used by breastfeeding or expectant women. Tretinoin is commonly used to treat acne and in stretch mark treatment as well. Tretinoin helps in making stretch marks that are in the early stage appear normal. Tretinoin aids to rebuild collagen that makes the stretch marks to look like normal skin.
3. Laser therapies
Laser therapy is an efficient and safe method to treat stretch marks. Laser treats both early-stage and late-stage stretch marks. Use of a laser to treat stretch marks on dark skins can be challenging. How to remove stretch marks on a dark skin will be advised by the doctor on the best method of laser treatment to use. Laser therapies use wavelengths of light to kindle the growth of elastin, collagen and melanin production. Pulsed dye lasers are more effective in the treatment of early stretch marks while fractional laser treatment is more effective in old stretch mark removal.
Although stretch marks cannot always be prevented as they are caused by some life stages that we all go through, there are a few things that one can do to reduce the risk of getting them. They include eating a balanced diet, which contains minerals like silicon, and zinc and vitamins A and C, drinking a lot of water, checking on your weight gain during a pregnancy and maintain a healthy weight.