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Stretch Marks
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Susan Evans, MD posted:
Dear Readers,

Stretch marks are the result of the underlying skin tissue tearing due to rapid growth or over-stretching. This damages the collagen fibers in the underlying layers of skin. This is the most common skin lesion complaint, but only for cosmetic reasons. There is no medical problem associated with stretch marks.

While most people associate stretch marks to great weight gain or during pregnancy, one of the most common times for people to develop stretch marks is during puberty. During this time young men and women grow rapidly, not necessarily becoming overweight, but their skin cannot keep up with the growth. For young women, the most common places for stretch marks to appear during puberty are their hips, thighs, buttocks, and breasts.

Young men can develop stretch marks for similar reasons, especially as they eat more to quench the overpowering hunger they feel during puberty. An additional reason for young men to develop stretch marks is from weight lifting.

There really is nothing you can do to prevent the formation of stretch marks, especially during puberty or during pregnancy. You can certainly use creams and lotions, massage and rubbing vitamin E oil can help to increase circulation to certain areas.

There is some suggestion that the term "stretch marks" is somewhat of a misnomer as during pregnancy, puberty, with weight lifting, and with great weight gain there is an increase in the hormone glucocorticoid in the blood. There is some speculation that this hormone prevents the dermis from functioning properly, allowing the skin to be stretched and small tears appear.

More studies in this area need to be done as it is not clear exactly why stretch marks appear.

If the appearance of the marks bother you, there are a few things that you can do to help diminish their appearance. Talk to your dermatologist about topical chemical peels, retinoid therapy, or pulse dye laser therapy.

Best,

Dr. Evans
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