No matter whether you have stretch marks, or want to avoid them as much as possible, it may be of some help to know how they are formed. At the very least, understanding the formation process will give you a chance to choose appropriate preventative measures, as well as choose a reasonable therapy for marks that do develop. As with so many other health issues, you will find that prevention is always more valuable in the long run than trying to recover from damage after it has occurred.
Most Common Causes of Stretch Marks
In general, it can be said that all stretch marks occur when the tissue beneath the skin grows faster than can be kept up with by the dermis layer. The most common causes of stretch marks include:
- Pregnancy in younger women. It should be noted that teen mothers have a much higher risk of developing stretch marks than older women who become pregnant.
- Exercise programs that lead to rapid muscle development
- Increases in weight during childhood or adult years. Individuals that are gaining weight and do not know why should at least see their doctor.
What Happens Under the Surface
Have you ever taken a plastic bag and pulled on one layer from opposite ends. Even though the plastic will stretch readily enough, you are sure to notice some thinning and tearing near the central regions of stress. Essentially, this is what happens to the dermis layer of your skin when stretch marks develop. Even though the other layers of your skin will not split apart, the dermis itself will develop fissures.
The Role of the Healing Process
When you pull a thin strip of plastic apart, there is no way to push it back together again. In a similar way, once your skin stretches to the tearing point, the body will have to fill in the area with new tissue. Oddly enough, the body will produce scar tissue instead of normal cells. Even though the scar may not extend to the surface level, you will eventually see white markings beneath the outer skin layer.
If you are going to seek treatment for stretch marks, newer methods revolve around encouraging surrounding cells to produce normal cells in the damaged area. This is usually accomplished by using dermabrasion or laser pulses to cause new damage to the dermis layer. Even though this may seem counter-intuitive, these methods tend to be more effective than surgery and ointments.
Individuals who want to avoid the development of stretch marks should always give some thought to how they form and progress over time. In some cases, this may help you avoid conditions or situations that might lead to their development. As may be expected, if you do not want to put your life on hold because you may wind up with stretch marks, you can at least make use of massage or ointments to keep their development to a minimum.