Spotlight on stretch marks

Posted on 08 Oct, 2011

While stretch marks are a common occurrence in many people, they tend to be mostly associated with women and pregnancy. Here are some of the facts about stretch marks and why they appear:

• They can appear during periods of rapid growth and /or weight gain (so, puberty, pregnancy or some sports such as weight lifting).
• They can affect both males and females.
• When the skin is overstretched, collagen production is disrupted and the dermal layer can stretch beyond its capacity to bounce back.
• The mark is the scar tissue that has formed where the skin has been damaged.
• They tend to appear on the stomach, hips, bust and behind.
• They can also affect the biceps and chest area (eg. Weight lifting), as well as the thighs.
• Some medication can cause stretch marks. Creams containing steroids thin the skin, and diminish its natural capacity to stretch, resulting in stretch marks.
• New stretch marks appear initially as red or purple lines, although they usually fade to a paler silver colour over time.
• They can become more noticeable in the summer, as the skin tans. This is because the scar tissue does not contain the same levels of melanin and will not usually develop a tan.
• Creams can help improve the appearance of stretch marks, although microdermabrasion and laser stretch mark treatments are generally more effective.