Stretch marks appear on the skin which is overstretched and known as linear streaks, and they go vertical to maximum lines of tension in the skin.
At the begin, they look like flat, red lines, but over time they become white streaks which are slightly depressed.
They tend to be present on abdomen, the thighs, groin, chest, and near the armpits. Their appearance is similar to changes which are seen in the surface of overinflated rubber balloons.
The precise mechanism by which striae occur is controversy. There seems to be damage to dermis’ elastic fibers combined by inflammation which at the end results in scar-like changes. These changes seem to be induced by excessive physical skin stretching.
A number of clinical situations will predispose the skin to striae’s formation. These clinical situations include rapid and excessive increase in body mass, puberty, excessively large breast implants, Cushing’s disease, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan’s syndrome, pregnancy, and the excessive use of systemic glucocorticoid drugs.
Signs and symptoms
Even though stretch marks usually don’t produce any symptoms, they have a characteristic visual appearance no mater where they appear. Initially, they appear as raised purple to pink lines longitudinally arranged over the lateral upper thighs, abdomen, upper breasts, or inner arms. With the time, the purplish-pink color becomes brighter and they occur as silvery lines on the skin, just like a scar.
Striae rubra is better known as the purplish-pink scars, while striae albae is called the silvery lines. They can also occur in people who are dark-complected, where stretch marks appear as dark-brown lines, which are called striae nigrae. Long story short, stretch marks are scars which are permanent once they’re formed.
The treatment is limited, and there is actually no curative treatment. However, one of the most invasive therapies is a laser surgery, which is physician-administered. Laser therapy is done by wounding the skin with scars and hoping that new skin will be normal, and have acceptable aesthetic look. Generally, the result is better if stretch mark is treated earlier.
Red immature stretch marks can be more easier to treat then silvery white stretch marks, which are matured. The reason for this lies in fact that the reddish stretch marks are in the middle of healing process, and the healing can be changed by intervention. Sometimes, the best option to hide scars is camouflage (the use of cosmetics).
The use of microdermabrasion is a spa treatment for stretch marks. By using microdermabrasion we’re bombing the skin with tiny salt crystals, baking soda, or aluminium particles to literally sand the skin. In medicine this process is known as exfoliation. Microdermabrasion is able to temporarily smooth any rough skin around the stretch mark, but it still cannot remove the scar permanently.
Stretch marks’ prevention is challenging. It seems that they don’t occur when the stretching of the skin is gradual rather than abrupt. Also, fast changes in the size of body should be avoided if it is possible. Stretch marks represent small scars, but a fast growth of the body can lead in tearing of the skin and more stretch marks.
However, slower changes in the size of body may allow the skin to adjust more gradually. People who have less rigid collagen and better skin elasticity are less likely to develop stretch marks, but at present it is not possible to modify these skin characteristics.