Most of us do not look forward to a future that includes stretch marks; but unfortunately, many have to deal with them at some point in their lives. Also referred to as ‘tiger marks,’ ‘zebra stripes,’ or ‘pregnancy lines,’ they are medically known as striae distensae. They usually develop following puberty and during or after pregnancy. Stretch marks are similar to scar tissue when viewed under the microscope.
What are stretch marks, and what are they telling you about your body? Here are some surprising facts about stretch marks that will help you understand what these lines are.
Facts About Stretch Marks You May Not Know
- Men can get them, too – Stretch marks occur when the skin stretches or contracts rapidly. This can include rapid muscle gain or loss, as well as fat gain or loss. Stretch marks in men commonly occur in the calves, thighs, buttocks, and back for adolescents, and in the buttocks for adult men.
- Your odds of getting stretch marks depends on your hormones – Hormones are responsible for the production of elastin fibres and collagen in the skin’s middle layer, which allows it to stretch. However, hormone fluctuations can reduce the elasticity of the skin. This increases your chances of developing stretch marks on certain parts of your body.
If you think your hormonal level is off the charts, schedule a consultation with a healthcare professional to get them back in check.
- Genetics can play a significant role – Genetic plays a critical role in the development of stretch marks. Regardless of your hormonal level or weight, if you have a genetic disposition to stretch marks, you are likely to get them. This makes stretch marks inevitable for some people.
- Losing weight will not eliminate your stretch marks (most of the time) – Losing weight can get rid of stretch marks―but only when they are first forming. Aside from then, exercise or weight loss will not get rid of them; in fact, rapid weight loss can contribute to more stretch marks forming.
Stretch marks are like scars to the skin’s middle layers. Stretch marks treatment is the only solution to make them less noticeable.
- Drink plenty of water (and eat healthily) – Proper hydration is essential for your skin’s health and elasticity. Experts recommend drinking a healthy amount of water every day to inhibit stretch mark formation.
Incorporating a healthy diet packed with vitamin A, C and E, antioxidants, zinc, and omega 3S can also boost skin elasticity. Although regular exercise does not get rid of stretch marks, it does increase blood circulation, which is itself crucial in maintaining your skin’s elasticity. Making healthy choices helps reduce the effects of skin stretching despite your genetic disposition.
- Stretch marks can signal an underlying illness – Health conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), or Marfan’s syndrome, can weaken the skin, causing stretch marks. Cushing’s syndrome causes overproduction of hormones, resulting in weakened skin elasticity. Stretch marks in people with Marfan syndrome are due to a defective gene. EDS changes the skin’s protein, making it susceptible to stretching.
If you notice more appearance of stretch marks on your skin, check in with your physician. Early detection helps reduce the rapid increase in stretch marks and keep your the health of your skin in top condition.
- Steroids can cause stretch marks – Oral corticosteroids and steroid cream increase the risk of stretch marks formation. Corticosteroids can boost the cortisone levels in your body, weakening the elastic fibres in your skin.
- Age is a critical factor – As your body ages, it produces less collagen. Collagen, a type of protein, is responsible for maintaining your skin’s healing ability, elasticity, and strength. The reduction of collagen production contributes to several skin issues, including wrinkles and stretch marks. Sufficient collagen production helps reduce your risk of getting stretch marks. Eat healthy foods that help boost your body’s natural collagen production as you get older.
- Stretch marks can change colour – Newly formed stretch marks can be red or purple. Some people can have pink, reddish-brown, or dark brown-coloured streaks, depending on one’s skin colour. Over time, stretch marks flatten and fade, turning a grayish colour.
How Stretch Marks Develop
Stretch marks do not only affect pregnant women. Growing teens can develop stretch marks too. When a person grows or gains weight at a rapid rate, especially during the puberty stage, it can give them stretch marks.
Rapid growth or stretch affects the elasticity of the skin. Although the skin is fairly elastic, overstretching can disrupt the natural production of collagen in the body. This results in the formation of stretch marks on various parts of the body.
As the body grows, it slowly stretches the connecting fibres in the dermis to accommodate slow growth. However, rapid growth can cause sudden stretching of the dermis. This results in a tear in the connecting tissues, allowing deeper skin layers to show through.
Although men can get stretch marks, it is more common in women. It can develop on the belly, thighs, hips, butts, and breast area. Additionally, women are more likely to get them during pregnancy.
Stretch marks are easy to diagnose because they are visible on your skin. It would merely take a single glance at your skin for your doctor to identify them. However, the doctor will review your medical history and order blood, urine, or imaging tests to find out if your stretch marks are due to a more significant underlying health issue. Also, the doctor will ask if you are taking any medications or an existing medical condition.
Are They Curable?
Stretch marks can itch, get inflamed, and cause emotional distress. Scratching can result in deeper scars. However, as much we all want to get rid of them, health insurance companies do not cover stretch mark treatment because they considered it as a cosmetic issue.
Stretch marks do not disappear on their own. It requires the proper treatment to get rid of them. While there are many creams and other skin products claiming to eliminate stretch marks, but the truth is, they are expensive and do not work at all. A dermatologist or plastic surgeon may recommend the right treatment option, such as laser treatment or microdermabrasion in Toronto, to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Are you worried about the cost of treatment? We offer the most cost-effective cosmetic treatments through our financing plan.
At the Laser Essential and Skin Care clinic in Toronto, our team of professionals are committed to helping our patients restore their skin to a more youthful, vibrant condition. We have state-of-the-art laser equipment, exceptional facilities, and experienced skin specialists to help you reach your cosmetic-enhancement goals.
Call us at (416) 226-0744 to book an initial consultation with our skin health professionals.