Stretch marks are fine lines on the skin cause by rapid stretching. Skin is the most elastic organ that the body has, but rapid size changes or weight gains or losses can result in stretch marks as the skin is pushed beyond its limits. The precise cause of stretch marks is deficiency in a protein called collagen, which makes up the connective tissue between the outer layer of the skin and the inner layers of sensitive tissue. When this protein is disrupted, scar tissue called stretch marks can form. Getting rid of stretch marks can be a challenge but you do have options.
When They Appear
Stretch marks are commonly found on around the stomach, hips, thighs, buttocks and breasts. They are more common in women than in men. In women, the biggest cause of stretch marks is pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters, followed by rapid weight gain, which often occurs during pregnancy. In men, rapid weight gain is the biggest cause of stretch marks. Stretch marks also frequently appear during puberty in both men and women as a result of the body growing so fast that the skin cannot keep up with it.
What Can Be Done
For pregnant women, the most important thing that they can do is simply wait. After giving birth, the uterus will return to its normal size, which may in fact cause additional stretch marks as the skin shrinks. After that happens, however, the stretch marks will usually disappear on their own.
Unfortunately, creams and ointments designed to heal stretch marks seem to have little to no actual effect on their appearance. In fact, the appearance of stretch marks in some people seems to be linked to genetic factors more than any other cause.
The only surefire way to get rid of stretch marks quickly is to consult either a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. This route is extreme, however, and often is completely unnecessary unless the stretch marks last longer than a few months. The techniques employed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons range from genuine surgery to treating the marks with laser beams in order to remove their appearance. It must be emphasized that this can make the problem worse instead of better. Sometimes the appearance of stretch marks is simply unavoidable and must be weathered until they disappear.
“Stretch Marks .” KidsHealth – the Web’s most visited site about children’s health. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/skin_stuff/stretch_marks.html.
“Body Changes and Discomforts << You’re Pregnant: Now What? << Healthy Pregnancy << womenshealth.gov.” womenshealth.gov | 800-994-9662. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/body-changes-discomforts.cfm#m.
“Creams for preventing stretch marks in pregnancy. [Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000] – PubMed result.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10796111.