Understanding Stretch Marks

Though usually associated with pregnancy, stretch marks can occur whenever the skin is suddenly stretched.

Stretch marks, or striae gravidarum, are caused by the breakage of the elastic fibres just under the surface of the skin. They first appear as long, narrow streaks, stripes or lines that are reddish or purplish in colour. Over time, they fade to white or silver.

Though they are often associated with pregnancy, stretch marks can occur on both women and men. Common causes of stretch marks include pregnancy, body building, puberty, sudden growth spurts and rapid weight gain.

The risk of developing stretch marks varies according to skin type, age, diet and hydration of the skin.

During pregnancy, the regular use of stretch mark lotions, oils or creams can help the skin maintain or even strengthen its elasticity so that it is better able to withstand the major stretching that occurs to accommodate the growth of a new life. Keeping weight within a healthy range, by eating well and exercising regularly, can also help to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

The areas of the body that are most prone to stretch marks are the abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks and thighs, where larger amounts of body fat are stored.

There are several types of aesthetic treatment that may help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. These include laser therapy, needling and microdermabrasion.

For example, microneedling with radio frequency is a common aesthetic procedure that involves pricking tiny holes in the skin to promote its healing and thereby help shed the scars. Concurrently, radio-frequency lasers warm up the deeper layers under the skin that are responsible for the regeneration of collagen, thereby helping to tighten the stretch marks.

As for oils and creams, stretch mark products enriched with Vitamin E and Argan Oil can be highly beneficial in encouraging the regeneration of healthy skin cells and improving the skin’s elasticity with essential fatty acids.

Though stretch marks cannot be totally removed, they do get lighter over time. And while no amount of creams, lotions, and oils can make the marks disappear entirely, they can help tone, tauten and lighten the skin.

Of course, the top priority for most pregnant women is the delivery of a healthy baby. Chances are that a few stretch marks will pale into insignificance alongside the joy that a baby brings.

This article is written in collaboration with Biolane. Click here to learn more about the baby hygiene specialist from France.

This article is taken from our My Alvernia Magazine Issue #36. Click here to read the issue on our website or on Magzter.