Stretch marks, also known medically as striae, are streak-like lines that can develop on the surface of the skin. The most commonly affected areas are the stomach, thighs, buttocks and breasts. Stretch marks are caused by sudden stretching of the skin. This can occur as a result of pregnancy, rapid weight gain and growth spurts during puberty. Stretch marks often start off as red or purple streaks that gradually fade to silvery-white lines in the skin.
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the middle layer of skin. The dermis contains fibres called collagen and elastin which help to keep the skin supple and allow the skin to stretch as your body grows. However, if the skin is stretched suddenly over a short period of time the fibres over-stretch and break causing the dermis to tear. The tears in the dermis allow the blood vessels in the deeper layers of skin to show through. This is what gives stretch marks the red or purple colour when they first appear. Eventually the exposed blood vessels contract and only the fat beneath which is pale in colour, will show through causing the stretch marks to fade to the silvery-white colour. People with more collagen in their skin are less likely to develop stretch marks.
Stretch marks are very common in both men and women. Around 8 out of 10 pregnant women are affected by stretch marks. Not only is your skin stretched to its limit, the production of special hormones during pregnancy can make you more likely to develop stretch marks. Specialised hormones designed to soften the ligaments in your pelvis to make giving birth easier also soften the fibres in the skin making you prone to stretch marks.
In rarer cases, the cause of the stretch marks is due to an underlying health condition. Cushing’s syndrome occurs when your body overproduces a hormone called cortisol. The excess cortisol in your body is thought to cause stretch marks to develop. Marfan syndrome is a genetic condition that affects the skin and connective tissues in your body. The tissues are weaker than normal and are less able to stretch. This causes your skin to be less resistant to stretch marks than it should be. Many people with Marfan syndrome develop stretch marks on the shoulders, lower back or hips. Body builders can also develop stretch marks on their shoulders as their muscle size increases. The prolonged use of topical corticosteroid creams or ointments such as those used to treat skin conditions like eczema, can also decrease the amount of collagen in your skin. This makes your skin more likely to develop stretch marks.
Stretch marks will usually fade over time and often aren’t noticeable. However, if you have stretch marks that affect a large area of your body or you are worried that they look unsightly, there are options available to you.
At Da Vinci Medical Clinics we offer a variety of treatment options to help control your Stretch Marks & Scars. Please scroll to see the related treatments.
Our aesthetic experts are here to help you. We will be able to diagnose the cause of the scar or mark that is causing you discontent, and look at the right treatment for you