Appearance of stretch marks on various parts of body is a normal part of puberty for most girls and boys. Sudden changes in body size, such as pregnancy or rapid weight loss or weight gain can also lead to stretch marks. These indentions mostly appear on thighs, buttocks and arms, near the armpits. More than 90 per cent of the pregnant women end up with stretch marks around abdomen, hips and thighs.
Stretch marks occur when the skin is pulled by rapid growth or extreme stretching, like during puberty or during pregnancy. Human skin is generally fairly elastic, courtesy elastin and collagen, the two naturally occurring proteins that make up connective tissues in your body. For example, when you pinch, pull or squeeze your skin and then release, it does not remain pinched, pulled or squeezed for long. This is due to the elastic nature of dermis, the middle layer of your skin. However, when your skin experiences rapid growth or extreme stretching, it does not come back to its original shape. This is because there is a threshold to the suppleness and flexibility of the dermis, and when that threshold is crossed, it may lead to appearance of unsightly streaks or stripes called stretch marks or striae.
Besides pregnancy and rapid weight gain or weight loss there are several other factors as well that contribute in the appearance of stretch marks. These include abnormal increase in muscle mass, growth spurts and prolonged use of steroids and corticosteroids. Genetic disorders like Ehlers-Danlos and Marfan syndrome have also been found to cause stretch marks.
The bad news is that these unsightly lines on skin seem to be hereditary; if your mother had stretch marks, odds are that you will also have them. Fear not, though. Stretch marks are harmless and do not pose any health threats at all; people seek medical help to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons only. If you are also self-conscious or embarrassed by stretch marks on your belly, buttocks, thighs or anywhere else, you can effectively get rid of them. Advancements in cosmetic surgery and aesthetic medicine have made it quite possible to get rid of these unwanted fine lines. There are numerous invasive and non-invasive techniques that effectively remove or at least reduce the appearance of both new and old stretch marks.
The most popular and the most demanded treatment for removing stretch marks is laser therapy. A high intensity laser beam is used to remove thin layers of the skin surrounding the stretch marks. Besides retexturing stretch marks, laser also enhances production of collagen and elastin, thereby improving skin elasticity. Laser therapy offers quick and guaranteed results; however, the outcomes and the time required for complete removal of stretch marks may vary from person to person, depending on the size, depth and age of the stretch marks. Laser is more effective on fresh stretch marks as compared to older ones. Moreover, young and elastic skin responds more to laser therapy.