What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are long, narrow streaks, stripes, or lines that develop on the skin surface and have an off-white hue. They are the result of a sudden stretching of the skin, which then causes tearing of the middle layer of the skin, leading to the appearance of stretch marks.

This type of scarring occurs when the skin cannot be restored after pregnancy, weight gain, or extreme weight loss. Initially stretch marks have a light red or purple hue, and then they fade away, leaving behind white and silvery stretch marks.

Stretch marks are considered skin scars or disfiguring wounds, characterised by the weakening or degradation of the epidermis, the outer part of skin.

What are the causes?

Puberty- The body goes through rapid growth cycles during puberty which can cause the development of stretch marks. In males, they arise in the shoulders and the back, while in females, they occur on the hips, thighs and breasts.

Rapid weight gain – Stretch marks can occur when a person gains weight rapidly over a short period, or when athletes and body builders dramatically increase muscle mass.

Pregnancy – Stretch marks are common during the later stages of pregnancy; their occurrence depends on skin type and skin elasticity. Hormones are produced during pregnancy that soften pelvic ligaments and increase their flexibility. Hormones also soften skin fibres, giving an increased risk of stretch marks. Stretch marks usually appear on the abdomen, and sometimes on the thighs and the breasts.

Medical Conditions – Medical conditions such as Cushing syndrome or Marian syndrome can lead to the development of stretch marks. Cushing syndrome causes stretchmarks due to the overproduction of the hormone cortisol, and Marian syndrome causes weakness and decreased elasticity in body tissues due to a defective gene. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a rare inherited condition that disrupts the integrity of structural proteins in the skin which can also cause stretch marks.

Corticosteroids – Sometimes prolonged or inappropriate use of corticosteroid creams and lotions that are used to treat eczema can cause stretch marks by decreasing skin collagen levels. Late-stage faded stretch marks are a type of scar characterised by a loss of collagen – a type of protein found throughout the body, providing strength and cushioning to many different areas, including the skin – and elastic fibres in the dermis. The dermis is the sensitive layer of skin below the epidermis, containing nerve endings, sweat and sebaceous glands, and blood and lymph vessels.

How can they be treated?

Initially, it should be highlighted that the sooner their treatment starts, the better the results will be. A new method with the Fractional Laser, offers a new approach to treat stretch marks. Using diffuse light pulses, laser targets just one fraction of the scar during the treatments.

Hundreds of laser arrays can be targeted on each square centimetre. This creates microscopic wounds. The skin reacts in each treatment by producing new collagen and epithelium, thus restoring skin health between photo-damaged areas, while offering faster wound healing and lower risk rate.

Independently of the cause that led to the development of your stretch marks, laser removal is an advanced treatment method that can help you have the smooth skin you want. It is a non-surgical approach to improving stretch marks with well-tolerated treatments that require no downtime.

A few easy laser stretch mark removal treatments may be all it takes to reveal more beautiful, touchable skin that you’ll be proud to show off.

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