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Stretch Marks

What It Is

Stretch marks are a common skin complaint and famously appear on the abdomen, legs, chest, buttocks and back. These distinctive scars can develop elsewhere but normally form on areas of the body that contain a higher concentration of fat.

Whilst harmless, stretch marks are lines and streaks of varying sizes that can arrive in a host of colours (red, pink, purple and blue) and may cause many people to experience a significant loss in confidence. They may not pose much of a threat to our physical health, but stretch marks are often sore, uncomfortable and can remain on the skin for a lifetime without proper cosmetic intervention.

Why It Happens

Medically, the physical appearance of stretch marks can be attributed to the lack of time that is given to the fibroblasts to form collagen and elastin – natural proteins responsible for keeping the skin taut and free from damage – during periods of rapid growth.

Stretch marks are a typical side effect of pregnancy, owing to the amount of extra pressure placed on the body by a developing baby. This can cause the skin to stretch at a rate to which it is unaccustomed. Other periods of bodily expansion, such as significant weight loss/gain or that encountered during puberty, can also lead to the appearance of stretch marks on certain areas of the body.

How it can be treated

Stretch marks normally fade over time, but will never completely disappear. Of the treatment options available, retinoid creams are probably the most popular and these can be routinely applied to the skin to kickstart its natural processes of repair. Laser therapy and microdermabrasion – two forms of non-surgical treatment that stimulate collagen production and strip away the top layers of the skin – are frequently used to reduce the visibility of more severe-looking stretch marks.

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