Stretch marks are long streaks, stripes or lines that can appear on the skin. They result from rapid stretching of the skin, as occurs during pregnancy, rapid growth periods and weight changes.
Stretch marks are a form of scarring, also called striae, that can affect both teenagers and adults, and are very common. They tend to affect women more than men, and their formation may also be affected by hormonal changes.
These marks are created by the tearing of the dermis, which is the layer that helps the skin to keep it shape, and sometimes can feel itchy or painful as they form. Fortunately, stretch marks don’t present a health risk, and don’t prevent the body from functioning normally.
Stretch marks usually start as red or purple marks, most often around the areas where more fat is stored. The most common locations for stretch marks to appear are the abdomen, thighs, breasts, upper arms, lower back, hips and buttocks.
Although stretch marks do fade over time, generally to a pale silver colour, and become less noticeable, for some they are a cosmetic concern, that may affect confidence and self-esteem. Wanting to remove stretch marks is a perfectly natural desire, in response to the appearance of these scars.
Fortunately there are various treatments that can be used to improve and in some cases get rid of stretch marks.