What Are the Origins of Stretch Marks?

by Wong Darren

Posted on Friday 2nd of January 2009

Who Can Have Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are a common condition that plagues almost all women who have gone through pregnancy. In fact, statistics show that around 50 up to 90 percent of pregnant women have had it at one point in their pregnancy.

Other people may also get marks in fact, everybody is at risk for developing it. Non-pregnant women, men, children, teens going through rapid growth , weight lifters, or anyone else who experiences any form of rapid growth or extreme changes in weight may get stretch marks.

Almost all stretch marks develop on a woman’s abdomen starting on her sixth month of pregnancy onwards. This is when her belly is stretching in order to accommodate the growing baby inside. Thus, the skin of her belly is pushed to the limits of its elasticity.

Other women also get stretch marks on their upper arms, breasts, lower back, hips, buttocks, and thighs. These unsightly marks are usually found around the areas of the body that store the most amount of fat.

How Do Stretch Marks Arise?

When the layers of skin and the tissue beneath them are pulled and get stretched beyond their maximum capacity for expansion, the collagen structure located deep within them start to break apart. The skin actually tears so microscopic bleeding occurs.

When these tiny wounds heal, scar tissue is formed. This scar is what we commonly call stretch marks. It generally appears as thin lines that may be pink, purple, red or dark brown in color. They vary in length from as tiny as a centimetre or up to 10 centimetres.

Stretch marks are most noticeable during their early stages of formation, but as time goes by they will slowly fade away in color and turn into a few shades lighter than the surrounding skin tone.

Stretch Marks Risk Factors

There are different factors that can increase your chances of developing stretch marks. Genetics is among these factors. Your family history can give you a clue whether or not you’ll get marks. For instance, if your sister or mother got them during their pregnancy, you’ll be likely to have them yourself. Aside from genetic predisposition, other risk factors for stretch marks include the following:

- Skin color – fair skin tone tend to get stretch marks more.

- Nutrition intake – the proper diet will make the skin healthy and help it stretch better.

- Overall skin health – dry skin is generally less elastic than firm and supple skin.

- Proportion of weight gain – this also includes how rapidly you gained weight.

- Pregnancy concerns – this includes whether you are having a big baby, or have twins or triplets and whether you are naturally small or if you have excessive amounts weight gain.

Practicing preventive measures will help a lot in minimizing the number and severity of marks that you’ll develop during and after childbirth. Keeping your skin well-hydrated before or at the start of your pregnancy will help you avoid stretch marks. Using creams and other moisturizing products will also help. You should also eat right and exercise to avoid excessive weight changes and keep your skin toned.

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