Stretch marks, also known as striae, are a form of scarring on the skin that may appear with an off-color hue. Over time they may diminish, but will not disappear completely. Stretch marks formed during pregnancy, usually occurs during the last trimester, and usually on the belly, but also may occur on the breasts, thighs, hips, lower back and buttocks.
Stretch marks are caused due to tearing of the dermis when it has been overly stretched for a period of time. This is often from the rapid stretching of the skin associated with rapid growth or rapid weight changes such as in pregnancy. Stretch marks may also be influenced by hormonal changes associated with puberty, pregnancy, or hormone replacement therapy.
Stretch Marks begin as reddish or purple lesions, which can appear anywhere on the body, but are most likely to appear in places where larger amounts of fat are stored; the most common places are the abdomen (especially near the navel), breasts, upper arms, underarms, back, thighs (both inner and outer), hips, and buttocks. Over time, they tend to atrophy and lose pigmentation appearing white , silver or grayish in color and are soft to the touch.
Stretch Marks also occur due to overuse of topical steroids which causes severe thinning of the skin causing the collagen to weaken and tear.
Common Causes Of Stretch Marks Include:
3) Adolescent Growth Spurts
3) Rapid Weight Gain/ Rapid Weight Loss
Treatments to Reduce Stretch Marks
There is no clear useful topical treatment for stretch marks though various topicals are used to minimize the appearance including Alpha Hydroxy Acids, topical Tretinoin/ Retin A , creams containing caffeine ,oils and shea or cocoa butter etc.
Most topicals may either exfoliate the skin giving it a smoother appearance or may provide hydration and moisture for the skin, making it appear and a bit plump , but topicals cannot eliminate stretch marks.
The treatments that do make a difference in the appearance are lasers that are used to stimulate collagen by heating up the dermis, thus minimizing the width and depth of stretch marks and may improve the color/pigmentation.
Another treatment that is recently becoming popular and is yielding great results for stretch marks reduction and various types of scars in general is Micro needling which uses tiny needles to create fractionated or micro wounds in the dermis which then activates the skins own healing response thereby stimulating collagen production in the areas treated.
There is no treatment that will yield a 100 percent restoration of the skin , but treatments such as laser and micro needling have been yielding great results especially when combination treatments are used. Depending on the severity of the stretch marks, and other factors, results may or may not be great.
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