If you’ve ever gained and lost weight, you are quite possibly, familiar with stretch marks. As if most of us don’t already have some something about our bodies we hate, many of us have to contend with these as well!
So what are stretch marks anyway?
Stretch marks are long streaks or lines on the skin. They are formed from stretching or tugging the skin. These lines occur in the middle layer of skin, and with the constant stretch, the layer tears, and BAM, you’ve got stretch marks! They vary in color from the skin that surrounds them and they feel like a divot in the skin when you touch them. They aren’t anything any of us want, but they are very common, so if you have them you are certainly not alone! Oh, and as if us girls didn’t have enough to contend with already, they are more common in females. Roughly 50 to 90 percent of the female population will have to contend with stretch marks during their lifetime.
What are the causes ?
Pregnancy is a big culprit, which probably isn’t a surprise to most. They are most common during the later stages and their occurrence is largely dependent on the skins elasticity and type. While stretch marks can absolutely form from the belly being stretched as the baby grows, our hormones are also a big player, (darn hormones!) . The hormones being produced during pregnancy can cause softening of pelvic ligaments and skin fibers and drastically increase your chances for stretch marks.
Puberty is a key time for the development of stretch marks. And while they are most common in females, the males are at risk during this time of their life as well. The body is going through a pretty rapid growth cycle during puberty! In males the stretch marks most commonly show up on the shoulders and back, while in females they leave their “mark” on the breasts, thighs and hips .
Decreasing collagen is a HUGE factor. Late stage, faded stretch marks are a type of scar brought on by collagen loss. Collagen is a key protein in the body that provides structural integrity, cushioning and strength to many areas, including our skin. So, it makes sense that when our collagen production is hindered or slows down, this puts us at huge risk for stretch marks. Besides aging, there are medications that can play a role in collagen loss such as corticosteroids.
Everyone is at risk for stretch marks when they have rapid weight gain. Bodybuilders and athletes are especially at risk because many of them are making dramatical increases to their muscle mass in a very short window of time.
So many people try vitamin E, shea butter, cocoa butter, and other lotions and creams to either correct or prevent stretch marks. The bottom line is that doesn’t work. Keeping the skin soft and hydrated is a great thing and certainly feels nice but that won’t do a thing to prevent stretch marks. Many studies have been conducted and there is absolutely no evidence to support the usage of any creams, lotions or other topicals as helpful in the prevention or reduction in stretch marks. Oh how we wish it was that easy, right? There are some advanced treatments that offer some promising results, such as lasers. The Venus Viva, which is nano fractional radio frequency, has shown to be amazingly corrective for stretch marks and something anyone concerned with them should look into. The research into these advanced treatments is ongoing and the future certainly looks bright for developing hard, fast correction for stretch marks. Often times, stretch marks will simply fade over time and become much less obvious. And if you developed them during pregnancy, they are usually less noticeable 6-12 months after giving birth.
While stretch marks are something that none of us want to embrace, they are common and sadly for many, just a fact of life. There are treatments available and while you contemplate what is right for you, slip on the bikini or the shorts and go enjoy your life. The fix is there when you’re ready, and while that can wait, your life won’t!