10 Things you probably didn’t know about stretch marks

Stretch marks, which are known as striae in the medical profession, are the small scar like marks that can appear on the tummy, or other places, when the skin stretches rapidly during pregnancy or during a period of very rapid weight loss or gain. Some women are embarrassed by their stretch marks, while others wear them proudly as a badge of honour of womanhood, but whatever you feel about stretch marks, there is also a lot of misinformation about them too. Here, then, are ten true facts about stretch marks that you probably didn’t know.

1. Men get stretch marks too

Most people think that stretch marks only occur due to pregnancy, but men can get stretch marks too. Stretch marks are caused when the fibres of elastin beneath the skin break due to rapid stretching of the skin over a relatively short period time. Men can get stretch marks in puberty, due to rapid growth spurts, or through rapid weight loss or gain.

2. They can appear anywhere on the body

Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body, but they are usually found in the parts of the body where fat is stored. The most common places for stretch marks are on the tummy, underarm and upper arms, the breasts and the thighs and hips.

3. Stretch marks run in the family

You can try as hard as you like, but if your mother had stretch marks when she was pregnant then there is a high probability that you will too. By far the majority of pregnant women get stretch marks, to one degree or another, so the chances of avoiding them completely during pregnancy are pretty slim.

4. Your body weight makes no difference at all

One stretch mark myth that never seems to go away is that thin women are less likely to get stretch marks during pregnancy. This is untrue; anyone can get stretch marks, whether they are overweight, average weight or underweight.

5. Stretch marks are very difficult to avoid

The best way to avoid getting stretch marks is to avoid losing or gaining weight rapidly, but that, of course, is not an option during pregnancy. You could try moisturising your skin several times a day with a product that contains cocoa butter, which many people say will help, but the fact is that some 70% of women still do get stretch marks and studies have shown that moisturising is not always very effective.

6. Stretch marks do fade over time

Stretch marks are scars and, like any scar, they can fade over time. How visible stretch marks are, will depend on the severity and the type of skin. There is a lot of evidence that would suggest that moisturising stretch marks with cocoa butter will slowly reduce their appearance, but again, there is little medical proof that this is the case.

7. Even celebrities have stretch marks

Anyone can get stretch marks and sometimes, even when money is no object, all you can do is to learn to live with them, or even better, learn to love them. Some of the celebrities who sport stretch marks include Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Alba, to name but a few. Even the rich and famous have yet to find a way to get rid of them.

8. Microdermabrasion can help

Microdermabrasion, which is the removal of the top layer of skin with small particles of crystal blown onto the affected area, can help reduce the appearance of older stretch marks and it does allow creams and lotions to penetrate easier into the skin, which might also reduce the appearance of stretch marks. This treatment too, unfortunately, gets mixed reviews from the experts though.

9. Laser treatments are probably the most effective

Laser treatments are quite probably the most effective way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. This works by zapping the marks with pulses of light, which creates tiny wounds in the skin, causing the skin to re-heal and produce new collagen. The downsides to laser treatments are that they can be very expensive, and they are not recommended for younger women.

10. Don’t be embarrassed by your stretch marks

The most important thing to remember about stretch marks is that they are nothing to be embarrassed about and that most women do have them. You can try and reduce the appearance of stretch marks, but that can take a lot of time and money, so embrace them as being a part of who you are and try not to stress about them.

Stay happy and healthy!

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