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How Do Stretch Marks Happen?

Discovering that you have stretch marks can be alarming and discouraging, but rest assured, everyone has the potential of experiencing them at some point in their life. From rapid weight loss or gain to puberty growth spurts and bodybuilding, men, women, and children are all susceptible to getting stretch marks. Many products and procedures available on the market today have been reported to help minimize the appearance of stretch marks. Each body works differently, so it’s encouraged to do research and try a variety of remedies to begin boosting your confidence again.

Stretch Marks: 101

A stretch mark or stria is a type of scar that occurs when your skin stretches or shrinks quickly. The sudden stretching or shrinking causes the collagen and elastin that is present in your skin to rupture. As your skin heals, a long, thin, rippled mark will appear: red, purple, pink, reddish-brown or dark brown. Initially, new stretch marks may be raised or itchy, but the color fades over time, and the scar sinks beneath your skin. Mature stretch marks feel like a slight depression in your skin. Not everyone develops stretch marks, and fluctuating hormone levels and family history are both factors that can put you at higher risk. Many individuals get stretch marks because of the following:

  • Rapid Weight Loss or Gain
  • Growth Spurts Related to Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Bodybuilding
  • Breast Implants
  • High Levels of Steroids
  • Marfan Syndrome
  • Cushing’s Syndrome

Stretch Mark Candidates

While stretch marks are more common in women and children, men are susceptible to getting stretch marks. Women most commonly experience stretch marks during pregnancy due to the influx of hormones and the rapid growth of your stomach as it makes room for the new baby. Many parts of the body that get bigger during pregnancy have the potential of getting stretch marks, but they will likely fade as you lose weight after the baby is born. Obese men and women have the possibility of getting stretch marks, and bodybuilders with little fat may see stretch marks appear where their muscles bulge. Additionally, children growing taller or gaining weight during puberty have the potential of getting stretch marks. Typically, as the child gets older, the stretch marks fade and become less noticeable.

Appearance and Diagnosis

Stretch marks appear in rippled, streaky lines ranging in length and color in some regions of your body. Initially, stretch marks appear red or pink and transition through a purplish-blue color to a thinner, pale scar-like streak. Once stretch marks are mature, you may not notice them as much. Many parts of your body are susceptible to getting stretch marks, such as:

  • Stomach or Torso
  • Hips
  • Back
  • Breasts
  • Arms
  • Buttocks
  • Shoulders

While diagnosis for stretch marks is straightforward, there are times where you may want to visit your doctor to eliminate any underlying issues. During your visit, your doctor will examine the area in question, ask you about your family history, and discuss any medications you are currently taking. If you’ve been taking oral or topical steroids for an extended amount of time, high cortisol levels may be to blame.

Beneficial Products

Most of the time, stretch marks are permanent, but different products can help make them less noticeable and relieve any itching if you’re experiencing that. Many products are available on the market today, and it may take a few tries before finding that specific one that works best for you.

  • Stretch Mark Creams, Lotions, and Gels: Many items are sold to treat stretch marks such as cocoa butter, shea butter, Centella Asiatica, olive oil, vitamin E oil, and bitter almond oil. Many of these are utilized to soften stretch marks’ appearance, but they don’t get rid of them entirely. It’s encouraged to use the products early on with new stretch marks, massage the product into your stretch marks, and apply it every day for an extended period.
  • Self-Tanner and Makeup: Each of these items can be used to minimize the appearance of stretch marks or hide their existence temporarily on certain parts of your body. There are many different shades of self-tanner and makeup available, so it’s guaranteed you’ll be able to find the most realistic tone for your skin.
  • Dermatological Level: If you’re looking for a solution that has a higher potency and used at a medical level, products containing tretinoin, retinol, or hyaluronic acid may be helpful. Additionally, you can also look into collagen boosting creams or extracts. If these products are applied to new stretch marks, they will be much less noticeable and faded.

Helpful Procedures

Dermatologists and other skincare professionals have many different procedures and treatments that help make stretch marks less noticeable and encourage collagen production. There are instances where your skincare professional may recommend multiple methods to help you reach the appearance you’ve been hoping for.

  • Chemical Peels: A chemical solution is applied to your skin and left for a desired length of time. There are different levels of chemical peels available on the market today, each with their own benefits and strengths. Chemical peels are utilized to improve and smooth the texture of your skin.
  • Laser Therapy: This treatment uses a light that is placed on the areas of your body with stretch marks. This light has been proven to help calm the blood vessels that are known to cause stretch marks under your skin.
  • Microdermabrasion: Tiny crystals are utilized in microdermabrasion to rub off the top layer of your skin. This treatment helps fade and diminish the appearance of stretch marks and is commonly paired with another skincare treatment such as a chemical peel.

Each of the procedures mentioned above is minimally invasive and causes little to no pain. As with any procedure, side effects can occur, but they tend to be temporary. You will likely experience redness and swelling that can disappear in anywhere from a few hours to days.

Begin Combatting Stretch Marks Today

While it may seem like stretch marks are uncommon, many individuals in the world today experience stretch marks. While stretch marks can be discouraging and lower your confidence, there are many products and procedures available on the market today that can help minimize the appearance. From lotions and creams to chemical peels and microdermabrasion, it’s encouraged to begin combatting stretch marks in their early stages to ensure you receive the best results possible. If you’re uncertain of where to start, contact your skincare professional today to get advice and recommendations.

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