Stretch marks are known medically as striae distensae. They can affect anyone who has had a growth spurt during the teenage years, in pregnancy, with a rapid weight gain or loss, and in weight lifters. When they occur with pregnancy, they are also called striae gravid.
Signs And Symptoms
The skin is composed of several layers. Stretch marks appear like thin, red, parallel lines in the dermis, the middle or second layer of skin; a result of tearing the dermal fibers. There is also loss of elastic fiber and collagen from the dermal layer. They occur when the skin is stretched quickly, as with rapid weight gain. The stretched skin becomes thin and silvery. The marks can resemble scars. Stretch marks have no symptoms other than the appearance of the marks themselves.
Causes And Risk Factors
The exact cause of stretch marks is unknown. They are thought to have a genetic component individuals with a strong family tendency to form stretch marks are more likely to form stretch marks, as well as more visible stretch marks. They most often appear when there are increased levels of hormones creating changes throughout the body. It is thought that as many as 90 percent of women will form stretch marks at some time in their lives. Men, however, are no strangers to stretch marks. They often occur in males, especially during an adolescent and teen period of rapid growth in height and weight. Rapid increases in muscle mass, such as those seen with weight-lifting and body-building, are frequently associated with the formation of striae in males.
Prenatal distension of the abdominal wall itself isnt entirely the reason that stretch marks occur during pregnancy. The hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy have a significant role in the formation of striae gravidarum. As the hormones shift and change during pregnancy, they interact with the skin the result is stretch marks. It is common for pregnant women to have the striae form on the breasts, buttocks and thighs, as well as the abdomen. Because stretch marks are primarily caused by hormonal changes in the body, which cant be controlled, its difficult, if not impossible, to prevent them from happening.
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