Stretch marks are the stubborn striations formed on the outermost layer of your skin. They are formed due to damaged and ruptured elastin fibers and collagen underneath the skin. Stretch marks on the body can badly destroy your natural appearances. I had the same problem a few years ago, and I worried a lot as my beautiful body severely collapsed because of these stretch marks. The main reason behind irritated torn fibers and collagen is the intense stretching of the body beyond its limit. The most common example would be pregnancy in which a women’s body stretches excessively. Men who do body building can also experience stretch marks.
While stretch marks is a problem associated both with men and women, but it is a woman who is more likely to experience them at some stage in their life. Initially, when the stretch marks begin to form, they appear like brown, purple, pink and red lines. The color of stretch mark lines depends on the natural tone of your body. If you have a fair complexion, you are likely to experience pinkish stretch marks. Similarly, people with tan color will notice dark red or brown stretch marks.
Today my goal is to highlight the causes of stretch marks, why do they appear and what are the possibilities that stretch marks can be removed.
Causes of Stretch Marks
Like the cellulite, stretch marks does not discriminate by weight or age. They can affect any person who experiences a growth spurt during his teenage years, rapid weight gain or loss and during pregnancy. To explain the cause of stretch marks in detail, firstly you have to understand the profile of the skin. Your delicate skin comprises of three layers.
- Epidermis (outer layer).
- Dermis (middle layer).
- Subcutaneous or hypodermis (innermost layer).
Stretch marks originate in the dermis or middle layer of your skin when the connective tissues are stretched beyond their level of elasticity due to contraction or expansion of skin from sudden growth and weight gain. This abrupt or sudden stretching causes your dermis to tear, and this makes the deeper layer of your skin to show through, thus forming the stretch marks.
Usually, when your body grows, these connective tissues in the dermis stretch gradually. However, a sudden growth causes overstretching of the fibers, and they break. The dark spots of your stretch marks would eventually fade to silver, white or glossy appearance. This is because of the blood vessels contraction and pale fat underneath your skin that becomes visible.
Stretch can have an extreme appearance with the increase of cortisone. It is a hormone that is produced by adrenal glands. Cortisone weakens your elastic fibers in the skin, thus causing stretch marks. Though, the results are conflicting, and the main cause of stretch marks is still unknown. But, there are various risk factors that are associated with their development in your skin. The pathogenesis of your stretch marks relate to sudden changes in fibroblast phenotype, but widely it is unknown.
Some studies were conducted that compared skin’s biopsies from normal subject, normal looking skin and the stretch mark skin. These studies proved the following results from patients with stretch marks (NL).
- The cells derived from NL and SM had a gradual outgrowth of their fibroblast. This indicates a low migration and proliferation rate that produced lower level of fibrillin1, elastin, collagen 1 and fibronectin as compared to the NS derived cells.
- NL skin is comprised of fewer DNA, protein and elastin and compared to NS skin, with such deficiencies that were more profound in SM skin.
When you experience stretch marks, your skin’s structure differs from the natural, healthy skin in terms of quantity and quality.
Some tests discovered a dominant phenotype in dermal fibroblast among the patients having stretch marks. As a result of such tests, a predisposition to stretch marks was discovered that enlightened a way for treatments and prevention of stretch marks.
The main causes that lead to stretch marks are as follows:
- Physical stretching of the skin.
- Strong family history of stretch marks.
- Water intake.
- Maternal age.
- Hormonal changes.
- Genetic factors.
- Pregnancy and birth weight of the baby.
- Smoking, drugs and alcohol consumptions.
- Maternal BMI caused at delivery.
- Gestational age at delivery.
It has been discovered that women who had higher body mass index tend to have more and deep stretch marks. Obese women or women who give birth to larger babies also experience stretch marks that normally don’t leave their body. A study tells that women who have excessive sex in a bad position may experience slight stretch marks, but this isn’t obvious.
Irrespective of the etiology, stretch marks showed similar changes in the dermis that represented atrophy and loss of rete ridges (downward projection of your epidermis that interlocks with superficial dermis). Moreover, if any of your parent or grandparents had deep stretch marks, you are likely to suffer from the same due to gene transfer while mating. Overall, we can say that stretch marks are caused due to several reasons, and it may take quite some time digging the actual cause.
Signs and symptoms of stretch marks
Before the stretch marks are clearly visible on the outer layer of the skin, they appear fragile and pink in color, and may also cause itching or irritation. Then they gradually develop and forms a wrinkly appearance with raised streak that are purple, pink, reddish-brown or dark brown in color. These raised streaks would fade gradually leaving a silver or gray color that might be less noticeable, or otherwise.
Parts of body where stretch marks can form
Stretch marks can form nearly on every part of the skin that is badly or abnormally stretched. There isn’t a specific area! However, a few parts of your body are at a high risk of developing stretch marks. I have explained them along with their causes below.
1) Stretch marks on breasts
As already discussed that stretch marks are the discolored lines appearing on the outermost layer of your skin due to its overstretching or sudden weight gain. When a woman is pregnant, she undergoes many hormonal changes, this also includes an increased breast size. When you are pregnant, the estrogen and progesterone hormones released cause your breast to enlarge and swell.
This badly stretches the skin of your breasts causing stretch marks to appear. You will experience a dramatic increase of these hormones in the first trimester, and possibly you will continue to increase the breast size throughout your pregnancy period. However, the stretch marks may not appear instantly. It may take up to 3 months until you notice any changes in the skin of your breast.
Moreover, near your delivery time, and after that your breasts are naturally filled with milk that results in their rapid enlargement causing stretch marks to develop. For this reason, most of the pregnant women are advised to lose bras.
2) Stretch marks on thighs
As compared to women, men may experience more stretch marks on their thighs. However, the common cause among both of the genders is fat gain on thighs or excessive body building. The stretch marks formed on thighs are usually white or light pink in color and aren’t much visible. Unfortunately, they can’t be fully treated. You can just use some home remedies or stretch mark creams to fade them. If you are using any steroids, again you are at a high risk of developing stretch marks on your thighs.
3) Stretch marks on hips
It can be very horrible to get stretch marks on hips, and common as well. Celebrities who have to show their bodies on TV are more concerned about stretch marks on their hips and thighs. Because our hips have a natural tendency to store more fat, they are more likely to have stretch marks. As a woman, you can do some exercises to burn fat from hips, or massage your hips with olive oil. It helps a lot to get rid of stretch marks.
4) Stretch marks on Stomach
Both men and women can develop stretch marks on their stomach. The most common cause is weight gain that stretches the tissues of your skin beyond their capacity and develops stretch marks. Women who are pregnant will notice stretch marks after pregnancy as their stomach is enlarged, and skin is stretched badly.
5) Stretch Marks on Neck
You might have noticed some people have more fat accumulated on their neck. Initially, it doesn’t develop any stretch marks. But as soon as they do some exercise to burn this fat, they might develop very mild stretch marks on their neck.
Can stretch marks go away?
Stretch marks appear as a physiological effect of sudden weight gain, pregnancy, and other factors. They usually start to disappear after pregnancy or weight loss. But, the question whether or not stretch marks go away completely is rather difficult to answer. As I said, they gradually fade and starts to vanish. However, it can take months or even years for the stretch marks to disappear entirely.
As a victim of this disorder, it took me over 15 months until my stretch marks vanished, but still I can see thin lines, that weren’t visible from a distance. This indicates that stretch marks only fade away to such an extent that they aren’t visible from a certain distance. You can say that stretch marks don’t completely go away.
My efforts were meant to explain you the cause of stretch marks and whether or not they go away. Though the last words might be disappointing for you, because stretch marks don’t go away completely. But, I have still managed to produce a great guide for treating stretch marks to such an extent that they are nearly invisible. Do subscribe to our list and never miss any tip or remedy for removing stretch marks.
Meanwhile, you can also check out our site to get more information on stretch marks and treatments through trusted stretch marks products.