A Journalist Reveals has been trying to get inputs from dermatologists regarding a regular beauty concern of people, particularly, women – Stretch Marks. Dr. Sruthi Gondi shared some insights into the topic and helped us with this article — Stretch Marks – A Harsh Reality of Life. Dr. Sruthi Gondi is the Founder and Managing Director at Science of Skin, Hyderabad.
Stretch Marks – A Harsh Reality of Life:
Stretch marks are indented lines or stripes that appear in any part of our body. They can be in pink, reddish or purple color and these eventually fade into greyish or white in color. These stripes may appear as a single streak or parallel lines spread across the skin. Stretch marks can result from a sudden expansion or contraction of skin.
These marks can appear on any part of the body. However, a majority of stretch marks tend to appear on the abdomen, buttocks, thighs and hips. These areas are most affected in women, but stretch marks can appear in men, as well. The main reason why stretch marks appear on these three major areas is that they tend to grow and stretch the most during puberty and weight gain.
Reasons for Stretch Marks:
There are several causes of stretch marks, especially the ones that occur on stomach, buttocks, thighs and hips.
- Weight Gain – The main reason why stretch marks appear on thighs and the areas around them is due to sudden weight gain. When the body starts to grow and expand, the skin is stretched. The collagen gets damaged due to excessive stretching and this leads to stretch marks.
- Muscle Gain – Most bodybuilders and athletes experience muscle growth with or without repeated use of steroids (topical and oral). This eventually leads to disproportionately big muscles without similar skin changes, which leads to stretch marks.
- Puberty (Or Growth Spurt) – During pubescent years, a growth spurt begins to take place in teenagers. Especially for young girls, their body starts to change in areas such as the buttocks, hips and thighs. This leads to stretch marks in these areas.
- Pregnancy – During pregnancy, women don’t just experience stretching of skin in the abdomen area, but also in other parts like hips, breasts and thighs. The body has to accommodate another being and so the skin must stretch along with the body. This is one of the biggest causes of stretch marks.
- Hormonal Imbalance – Another cause of stretch marks is a hormonal imbalance. This usually occurs during obesity, puberty and pregnancy. It causes elastin and collagen to tear due to the overstretched skin, which creates lines and stretch marks.
Stretch Marks and Cellulite:
Yet another type of skin condition that spoils the skin or can be embarrassing is cellulite. There is a very clear difference between cellulite and stretch marks. Stretch marks, as explained earlier, are like a series of pink lines that grow out to become white as we age. Cellulite is a skin condition where the skin gets ripples or gets dimpled. It also means that skin is not toned. It may look like cottage cheese. Though men may get this if they are overweight; women are more prone to this kind of condition. Dr. Sruthi says, “Medically when the fat deposits under the skin bypass the fibrous connective cords and push up actively, it gives a dimpled appearance that we call as the cellulite”.
This is also caused due to sudden weight gain. The best way to get rid of cellulite is a healthy lifestyle, exercising, dieting or adding up fat-free food in the daily routine would help.
How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks:
It is very difficult to avoid stretch marks. But, a well-balanced diet with adequate hydration is always helpful. On the other hand, there are a whole lot of – off the counter creams and ointments having popular ingredients that promise to eliminate or fade the stretch marks. However, in reality, these creams have no effect over stretch marks. Topical creams, especially made for this purpose and/or dermabrasion or peels might help you improve your skin condition.
Thanks to modern technology, you can now treat a scar by laser, now. Significant reduction in stretch mark appearance is possible with a combination of fractional laser and non- invasive skin tightening. Both treatments combine to encourage collagen production to effectively fill in stretch mark scarring. PIXEL laser procedure takes about 30 minutes, depending on the treatment area. You may feel a light prickling sensation and hear the beeping sound of the laser during treatment followed by some redness and swelling for a few days. Successive follow-up sessions diminish the scars almost completely. Apart from the above treatments, exercise is one of the best recourses for reducing the appearance of stretch marks because the firming of the body tightens the skin and promotes better elasticity.
Stretch marks are the harsh realities of life. But, do we have to live with them?