What Causes Stetch Marks and How Can I get Rid of Them?

Stetch Marks, Alexandria Aesthetics

Many women, particularly in the past, viewed stretch marks as an inevitable result of pregnancy and simply learned to live with them. While stretch marks tend to fade over time, there is little reason today for a woman to suffer the embarrassment of lasting stretch marks, particularly if they are puffy or of an unusual color. Modern treatment is safe, effective, and practical.

How to recognize stretch marks

The skin irregularities known as stretch marks vary in appearance, from very obvious to barely noticeable. They are alternately described as streaks, stripes, or lines, may have the appearance of long "grooves," and may also appear as pink, purple, or reddish striations. They commonly appear on the abdomen and breasts during pregnancy but are also not unusual on the hips, buttocks, and thighs. They may also feel itchy or be slightly raised. Men as well as women can experience stretch marks resulting from sudden weight gain or loss, or from a sudden increase in body muscle mass. 

Over time, even the most obvious stretch marks tend to fade and may turn opaque or slightly silvery in tone. Skin consists of three distinct layers, and the marks form in the middle layer, known as the dermis. They are the result of a loss in elasticity between the connective tissues. 

What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks represent a kind of scarring that occurs when skin is stretched rapidly or too much. They often occur during pregnancy and are more common in women, but men also suffer tissue scarring that results in stretch marks. Frequently, they appear in conjunction with quick growth spurts during puberty, and they can also be caused by fluctuating hormone levels. 

Certain medical conditions that lead to reduced skin elasticity cause stretch marks to form. Individuals who suffer from abnormal stress may be prone to developing them because cortisol, the "stress hormone" produced by the adrenal glands, is converted into cortisone; high levels of cortisone adversely affect skin elasticity. In the same way, prolonged use of corticosteroid cream or lotions reduces skin collagen levels and contributes to the formation of stretch marks.  

Genetics make some people more prone to stretch marks, and they may become pronounced with sudden weight gain or loss. 

Can stretch marks be prevented?

Although stretch marks do not normally constitute a medical problem or health risk, they can be unsightly and contribute to a loss of self-esteem. There are preventive measures that can help to minimize the appearance of stretch marks, but nothing has been determined to prevent them entirely. Practical deterrents include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet with beneficial vitamins and minerals, and drinking sufficient water.  

During pregnancy, the goal for women should be steady weight gain, following your doctor's recommendations.

However, if those stretch marks still appear, modern laser treatment administered by a trained physician can be used to reduce their appearance, help the skin produce new collagen, and boost confidence. Results can be effective after only a few treatments.  

Modern treatment for stretch marks

A noninvasive laser treatment is a boon for anyone who has previously tried to disguise stretch marks with cosmetics or simply cover them with clothing. Topical creams and ointments have proved ineffective, and no treatment will eliminate stretch marks totally. However, laser treatment offers help to minimize their appearance and restore the look of healthy skin. Administered by Kantha Stoll, MD, at Alexandria Aesthetics, this innovative procedure produces results with a series of only three to five in-office treatments. 

Dr. Stoll is a board-certified laser aesthetics physician who works with her patients to assure more youthful-looking skin. She also treats various skin conditions, including facial wrinkles and fine lines, spider and varicose veins, scars, sun-damaged skin, and more, using advanced, state-of-the-art laser treatments.

For additional information about treatment for stretch marks or other skin problems, contact us for a consultation appointment at our Alexandria, Virginia, office. 

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