Stretch marks occur on our bodies due to various reasons. These are called “striae” in medical language. So, what is a stretch mark? How do they occur and is there a treatment for them?
What is a Stretch Mark?
Stretch marks are streaks and stripes on the skin looking like an after effect of the tearing process, caused by the enlargement of the skin rapidly. With stretch marks, the skin gets thinner, the affected area’s color becomes red at first and then turns into a pearly texture. Stretch marks usually look like scars; they are irregular, they have a different feel than the rest of the skin, and they are hollower than the rest of the skin. With time their color fade and they become less visible, but they never disappear completely.
Pregnancy & Stretch Marks
Stretch marks occur commonly due to the straining of the skin during pregnancy. The abdomen tissue is the most common area that the stretch marks are visible during the first trimester of the pregnancy as the baby starts growing. Although when talking about the stretch marks, pregnancy is the primary reason that comes to mind, we don’t see them in every pregnancy. But even though you haven’t had them in your first pregnancy, the possibility of having them during your second pregnancy increases significantly.
Let’s look at some facts about pregnancy and stretch marks.
· The possibility of developing stretch marks during pregnancy is 70%, meaning you are not alone. 70 of every 100 pregnant women development of stretch marks occurs.
· Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be having stretch marks during your second pregnancy if you didn’t have them during your first pregnancy. The possibility of having stretch marks in the second pregnancy increases to 90%.
· Most commonly, pregnancy stretch marks occur after the 25th week.
· A young mother-to-be develops more stretch marks than an older mother-to-be.
· There is no remedy of cream or lotions to prevent the development of stretch marks. Cacao and almond oil are widely used all over the world, but there is no significant scientific data to prove their benefits. Nevertheless, as the belly grows fast, it is essential to keep the area hydrated to prevent the dryness & itchiness, and it is recommended to do so.
· Within 6-9 months after the birth, the stretch marks fade and become less visible.
What are the Other Reasons for Stretch Marks?
Other than pregnancy, stretch marks occur during puberty as well. The fast-growing state of making a transition from childhood to young adulthood causes stretch marks in 70% of males and 40% of females. Puberty stretch marks most commonly develop on arms, legs, breasts, waist, and thighs. Gaining and losing weight fast and using medicine containing steroids also cause stretch marks. In these situations, both males and females can develop them. Genetic researches show us; some individuals are more prone to developing stretch marks due to the amount of production and quality of the collagen-producing cells and fibroblasts in their bodies.
How Can We Avoid Them?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent stretch marks entirely. Still, there are some things to do. These are simple approaches like, Consuming enough water, avoiding alcohol intake, avoiding shock diets those cause sudden changes in weight, having a diet which supports the collagen production, having enough Vitamin C, having a diet rich of antioxidants, tomato, kiwi and almonds.
Despite everything you may develop stretch marks but do not fear, we also have few treatment alternatives.
Practical Methods in Stretch Marks Treatments
There are no miracle cures for your stretch marks but don’t despair because it is possible to reduce them. Creams with retinoic acid are beneficial especially during the early stages when the color is red. Retinoic acid is not recommended for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers as it may cause congenital disabilities. Silicone gels are also used for treatment although their effect is restricted. Laser treatment is the most effective method for the treatment of the stretch marks. Fractional carbon dioxide and erbium lasers are the most preferred methods. These treatments applied in sessions give much better results than others.