If I were to pick one question that I get asked over and over again, it would be about stretch marks. Stretch marks are a form of scarring of the skin. It’s caused by stretching or tearing of the dermis (the intermediate layer of your skin, not visible externally, that helps your skin retain its shape). They are a result of tearing and stretching of the skin associated with rapid growth or weight changes. stretch marks can also be influenced by hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, puberty, bodybuilding and hormone replacement therapy.
Initially the stretch marks appear as reddish or purple lines, but will eventually faded to a lighter color depending on the skin type. Stretch marks can appear anywhere in the body, but more commonly occur in places were large amounts of fat are stored (abdomen, breasts, upper arms, thighs and buttocks). They pose no health risk, and did not compromise the body stability to function normally.
They’re have been a few things that promote stretch marks. High body mass index, low maternal age, weight gain over 30 pounds and higher birth weight were independently associated with the occurrence of stretch marks in a few studies. Additionally, teenagers are at the highest risk of developing severe stretch marks.
75-90% woman developed stretch marks to some degree during pregnancy. Elevated hormonal levels during pregnancy will cause stretch marks to appear around the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. This is also one the skin tends to be subjected to higher levels of stretching forces. A German research team tested the application of massaging and cream and found that only one third of women with this treatment developed stretch marks while two thirds of the untreated controlled group developed stretch marks. Unfortunately, it was not clear from the paper that this was a double-blind study.
A few other studies found that the daily application of vitamin E oil was associated with less severe stretch marks during pregnancy. During pregnancy, do recommend that woman daily skin moisturized in order to prevent itchiness from the dry, and stretch skin. It may also be preventative in regards to decrease in the amount of stretch marks.
It seems that every month or so I get a new advertisement for some type of cream or laser or therapy for the improvement of mature stretch marks. Pulsed dye laser, fractional laser, and special creams have shown some mild to moderate effects, but nothing, other than surgery has effectively removed stretch marks.
The most common surgery we use to improve abdominal contour and remove lower abdominal stretch marks is an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). Liposuction alone will not improve the appearance of stretch marks and in some cases it may make the situation worse by increasing the amount of loose skin.
Hope this helps.