While stretch marks are not usually painful (although they can be rather itchy) they can be a real pain. When they first appear, they tend to stretch across the skin as pink or purple lines, before later fading to a silvery shade. As the skin is damaged it resembles scar tissue and contains less melanin than normal, healthy skin tissue. This means that stretch marks become even more noticeable when the surrounding skin is exposed to sunlight and starts to change colour.

Most of us have stretch marks somewhere on our bodies; they can affect both boys and girls and usually make an appearance at some point during puberty when a combination of hormonal changes and rapid growth puts the skin under enormous pressure to stretch quickly. Most of us can live quite happily with our stretch marks without any problems, hiding them under clothing for example.

For others, however, stretch marks can cause real problems. They can be quite extensive and typically appear on the breasts, stomach, thighs, buttocks and arms, although they can pop up anywhere on the body. When they do extend across large areas of skin, they can have a significant impact on an individual’s sense of self-confidence.