Mommy Makeover 101: What are Stretch Marks?
One problem some mommy makeover candidates face is stretch marks. Stretch marks are also known as striae. They are basically skin scars that form on the body for a number of different reasons. These reasons include: puberty, pregnancy, and bodybuilding, as well as from other physical activities. The scars are created when the dermis is overstretched, and the result is a different coloring from the surrounding skin.
How Stretch Marks Occur
The dermis is the middle layer of skin. Its function is to maintain the elasticity and shape of the skin. When this layer of skin is overstretched, its connective skin fibers rupture, collagen production is disrupted, and as a result, scarring occurs. During pregnancy, hormones soften skin fibers, making skin more susceptible to stretch marks.
Though they are more common among women, women aren’t the only ones susceptible to stretch marks, men are as well. The most affected areas for both genders are: the abdominal area, hips, thighs, arms, and the lower back.
Causes of stretch marks
There are many different causes of stretch marks to include:
- Ethnicity: people with lighter skin tend to be more affected by stretch marks than those with darker skin who are less likely.
- Puberty: The rate that the human body grows when developing often results in the skin being unable to keep up with it.
- Genetics: If your mother had stretch marks after pregnancy, then you’re more likely to have them as well.
- Rapid and serious weight gain: The skin can stretch and scar as a person’s weight changes.
- Bodybuilding: The rapid increase of muscle while bodybuilding can also result in stretch marks.
- Steroid usage: Long-term and or heavy usage of topical or oral steroids can result in stretch mark scarring. Corticosteroids are an example of a medication that’s commonly used and which can help to cause stretch marks. Stretch mark scarring can occur because cortisone weakens the elastic fibers of the skin.
Pregnancy stretch marks are very common. Three in four women develop them due to rapid weight gain during pregnancy. They usually begin in color as reddish or purple and then they eventually fade to white with time. This is due to blood vessels showing through the tears in the dermis. Stretch marks may appear around approximately the 25th week of pregnancy. This type of scarring is more prevalent in younger pregnant women.
Common Areas for Stretch Marks
The most common places for stretch marks to appear on pregnant women are:
- the abdomen
- the breasts
- the flanks
- the hips
- the buttocks
- the thighs
According to medical news today, stretch marks occur in more than 70% of pregnant women after the 25th week of pregnancy. Even though stretch marks carry no medical danger, they can affect the quality of life for mothers after pregnancy. As reported by medical news today, other factors which influence the development of stretch marks are: maternal age, family history, pre-pregnancy BMI, the mother’s BMI at the time of delivery, and the gestational time. At the time of delivery, the birth weight of the baby, as well as the mother’s hormonal changes and various genetic factors can influence the development as well.
When it comes to stretch marks, usually the younger you are and the higher your body mass index is, the more stretch marks you have and the more severe they’ll be. As stretch marks begin to develop, there will be signs of them, i.e. thin skin, and irritated and or itchy skin. The fading of the color of the stretch marks along with the flattening usually takes years to occur, with them becoming less noticeable in 6 to 12 months after pregnancy. Only in the rarest cases do stretch marks signal an underlying medical condition.
There are many proposed treatments available for stretch marks. Some examples of these are lotions, gels, creams, cosmetic surgery, and laser surgery. Most of these treatments are deemed ineffective, because they cannot deliver long-term results. As technology improves, the treatments for stretch marks improve as well.
Lotions, creams, and oils
According to medical news today, most studies done on lotions, creams, and oils show that there is no evidence to support that they are capable of preventing stretch marks from developing. They are good for dryness and itching though. For example, two age-old remedies that are widely used to prevent stretch marks are cocoa butter and olive oil. Both the oil and the butter were shown to be ineffective. There were however, three products that were shown to reduce stretch marks. These were: bitter almond oil, silicone gel, and hyaluronic acid. Microdermabrasion testing showed significant improvement with early stretch marks. This treatment consists of blowing crystals onto the skin, which exfoliates the top layer of skin as a vacuum tube removes the crystals and the skin cells.
Another effective treatment for diminishing stretch marks is laser surgery. The treatment consists of pulses of laser light that are utilized to breakdown stretch marks. The procedure prompts new tissue collagen production and improves the stretch marks color. In the end, skin texture is ameliorated and the appearance of stretch marks is reduced. With laser treatment, the average number of sessions required is 3 to 5, but as with all things of this nature, it varies on a case-by-case basis.
Plastic surgery, which would be in this case a tummy tuck, is the only way to permanently remove stretch marks. This is because the skin containing the scars is removed. All of the other remedies available today can only reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
It’s important to note that stretch marks can always be prevented, but by gradually gaining weight slowly during pregnancy the risk can be reduced. A solution for abdominal stretch marks is a mommy makeover tummy tuck.
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