When your skin stretches or shrinks in a short amount of time, the results can leave you with a type of scarring commonly referred to as a stretch mark. That’s all it is, a linear scar to the connective tissue. The change causes your collagen and elastin to rupture, and the resulting stretch marks are evidence of the skin healing.
Genetics Play a Role
Pregnancy is often the cause for stretch marks, but not always. Over 90 percent of women will get them in the later stages of their pregnancy. As the abdomen grows to accommodate the fetus, the skin is stretched. There are other reasons you might get stretch marks, including:
Family history — Genetics often play a role in whether you get stretch marks. If your mom or sister has them, for example, there is a greater likelihood you will as well.
Weight gain — Any rapid increase or loss of weight can stretch your skin and result in stretch marks. Regulating your weight gain can help prevent this.
Reducing Your Marks
Exercise caution if a product you purchase promises to prevent or get rid of stretch marks. In truth, most remedies claiming to do so simply don’t work. Studies have discovered that almond oil, cocoa butter, olive oil and vitamin E have been unsuccessful in making stretch marks fade.
While there is no magic potion, cream or lotion that will definitely prevent them from happening, you may feel better by trying an over-the-counter treatment. Discuss it with your doctor first. Using the treatment as directed may allow you peace of mind because you are actively trying to prevent your stretch marks from happening.
What to Do About It
Altering some lifestyle factors may keep stretch marks from happening in the first place. Consider:
Implementing good nutrition and exercise.
Watching your weight. Gaining a healthy amount of weight while pregnant may lessen stretch marks by preventing overstretched skin.
Staying hydrated, as it helps keep your skin stay soft. Soft skin is somewhat less likely to develop stretch marks than dry skin.
Checking your vitamin D levels. Some studies suggest women with normal values of vitamin D are at lower risk of stretch marks.
While stretch marks pose no true health risks and are painless, you can talk with your dermatologist about ways to make them less noticeable. And should you develop stretch marks for no obvious reason, such as rapid weight gain or pregnancy, it is recommended you talk to your doctor about it. Your doctor can help you rule out any healthcare concerns you might not be aware of.
Recognize that sometimes, regardless of what you do to prevent stretch marks, they may still occur. And if you’re a mom, sometimes they will serve as a reminder of a special son or daughter years later. The heart of the matter is this: It’s not how you look but how you feel that counts. It is important that you remember to be gentle with yourself.
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