How Stretch Marks Can Affect You

PREDISPOSING FACTORS FOR STRETCH MARKS

Worrying about stretch marks are a usual problem among people who are conscious about their skin beauty.  We know that, they are formed due to the rupture of collagen and elastin fibers on account of the excessive stretching of the skin.  They initially appear in areas like abdomen, breasts, and thighs as pinkish linear markings and later become silvery white depressed lines and gradually fade with time.

In dark complexioned people they are seen as white and in light complexioned people, as pink bands of varying length and breadth.

The appearance of stretch marks is predisposed by certain factors:

1. Type of skin:  Dry skinned people are more prone to stretch marks whereas oily skinned people are less affected.

2. General health:  Deterioration of general health can result in the loss of strength and elasticity of skin.

3. Nutrition:  Nutrients like proteins, vitamins, iron and zinc are essential for the skin and their deficiency may lead to the formation of stretch marks.

4. Hydration:  Adequate intake of water is very essential for the elasticity and softness of skin. Less water in take makes the skin dry that results in stretch marks.

5. Environmental factors:  Climatic changes can influence the integrity of the skin.

6. Hereditary factors:  Stretch marks can be a familial problem in certain cases.  Ladies having this problem usually give a history of the same in their mother.

7. Food intake:  Those who take excess of fatty food are prone for this condition due to sudden weight gain.

8. Exercise:  Lack of regular exercise can increase fat deposition and reduce the tone of muscles, both of which result in stretch marks.  However rigorous exercises can result in this condition as in the case of body builders.

9. Medicines: Excess intake of steroid drugs and use of steroid ointments can predispose stretch marks

10. Occupation:  Over work can predispose stretch marks.

11. Miscellaneous causes: Use of tobacco, alcohol, malnutrition, stress, diabetes etc can also be contributory factors.  Caffeine, an alkaloid present in coffee can increase the chance for stretch marks.

CONDITIONS CAUSING STRETCH MARKS

Rapid enlargement of the body causes stretching of the skin with the breaking of collagen and elastin fibers.  Hence stretch marks are commonly found in areas of the body such as abdomen, breasts, thighs, buttocks, shoulders etc.

Even though stretching is the main cause, certain hormones also have some role in their development.

The following are some common causes.

Pregnancy:  During pregnancy there will be stretching of the anterior abdominal wall to accommodate the enlarging uterus.  During the second half of pregnancy pinkish stretch marks start appearing on either side of the lower abdomen and later on become silvery white.

Obesity:  Sudden weight gain due to excessive fat deposition can stretch the skin to develop stretch marks.

Puberty:  During puberty both sexes will have increase in fat deposition and body surface area that are due to hormonal activity, which results in stretch marks.  Compared to boys, fat deposition is more in girls and hence they are found more among girls during puberty.

Cushing’s syndrome:  This is an endocrine disease due to the hypo-secretion of adrenal hormones.  Here there will be obesity with marked stretch marks.

Bodybuilding:  Stretching of the skin due to excess of physical activity is the main cause here.  Bodybuilding causes sudden enlargement of muscle size resulting in more stretch marks.  The common sites are shoulders, thighs, deltoid region, gluteal region etc.

Medicines:  Frequent use of steroid medicines and topical steroid creams can result in stretch marks.  Topical drugs can cause insufficient production of collagen and elastin resulting in the weakness of skin.

Edema:  Edema is the collection of fluid in the inter-cellular space.  This can occur anywhere in the body. Prolonged edema due to kidney and liver diseases can stretch the abdomen and cause stretch marks.

Weight loss:  Both rapid weight gain and rapid weight loss can cause the development stretch marks.

Miscellaneous:  All conditions that hamper collagen synthesis result in stretch marks.

Stretch Marks: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Video

AREAS WHERE STRETCH MARKS ARE FOUND

Stretch marks are found in conditions like pregnancy, puberty, obesity etc. and are usually seen in areas like abdomen, thighs, breasts, buttocks, shoulders etc.

Abdomen:  The Abdomen is greatly affected during pregnancy.  In obese individuals excess fat deposition in the abdominal wall can also result in stretch marks. Ascites is a condition wherein excess of fluid is collected in the peritoneal cavity due to different causes, which stretch the abdominal wall.

Similarly, any large lump or tumor in the abdomen can also cause stretching of skin.

Thighs:  Seen mainly in weight lifters and body builders.  Obesity and puberty also cause stretch marks in this region.

Breasts:  Enlargement of breasts is one of the secondary sexual characters in females.  During puberty stretch marks may appear on breasts that will be doubled by obesity.  However stretch marks are more common during pregnancy due to enlargement and engorgement of the breasts.  Stretch marks become more prominent when the breasts become pendulous or sagged with the advancement of age.

Buttocks:  Stretch marks appear here mainly during puberty.  Girls are more affected than boys due to the development of typical feminine structure.  Fat deposition is more in this area.  Exercise and obesity affect both sexes equally.

Shoulders:  Here stretch marks are mainly due to exercise and hypertrophy of shoulder muscles.  Deltoid region is mainly affected.

Other body areas:  Swellings due to conditions like fat deposition, tumors or edema can result in stretch marks in any part of the body. Lymph edema is due to the obstruction of flow of lymph, which causes stretch marks mainly in the extremities.

Once these marks appear, certain time is required for them to be less prominent.

How Stretch Marks Can Affect You

Both sexes can be the victims of stretch marks but mostly women are psychologically affected due to their beauty consciousness.  Stretch marks may cause mental trauma leading to depression in many sensitive people.  It affects their self-esteem and many develop negative thoughts.

On the other hand there are women who are least bothered about them and regard them as a badge of mother hood.  Still, the number of people visiting clinics to remove stretch marks is increasing day by day.

Many people say that they are disappointed by the doctor’s advice.  Some doctors advise their patients, not to bother about stretch marks.  Doctors, other than dermatologists or cosmetologists, usually ignore stretch marks, as they give more importance to vital organs and other functions of the body.

Even though stretch marks are self-limiting to some extent, proper treatment along with advice and moral support aid the sufferers.

Because of the increasing need for the treatment modalities, there are a number of products in the market to deal with stretch marks.  But most of these products have not been proved effective scientifically but a few of them yield results in many cases.

Modern treatment methods like plastic surgery, laser therapy have been proved effective even in long standing cases.  Statistics show that people are increasingly using their money and time to get rid of stretch marks.

PREGNANCY AND STRETCH MARKS

Weight gain, stretching of skin, edema, lack of activities, fat deposition and hormonal changes are the responsible factors during pregnancy.  Striae gravidarum is the medical term for stretch marks in a pregnant lady.  These are predominantly found in the abdominal wall below the umbilical region.

Breasts are also engorged in pregnancy.  Initially these lines are pinkish and later on become silvery white.  In multipara, both pink and silver white lines are seen.  Apart from stretching, the rise in the aldosterone level during pregnancy is also responsible.

In order to prevent stretch marks on the breasts, a special bra called supportive maternity bra should be used throughout pregnancy and lactation period.  Massaging with some natural substances like olive oil, lavender oil, jojoba oil etc can be helpful to prevent stretch marks.

However, Retin ointments should not be used during pregnancy and lactation due to some ill effects.

The diet should be balanced and should provide all nutrients required for the mother and the growing fetus.  Excess of fatty diet should be avoided. Apart from all nutrients a pregnant lady should take sufficient quantity of water.

Above all, when you are pregnant, anxiety should be avoided.

Studies looking at the effects of olive oil on stretch marks occurring in the second trimester of pregnancy found the treatment can sometimes be effective in reducing the severity of stretch marks on your body.

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