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Stretch marks are thin streaks that appear on the surface of the skin. Initially, they tend to be red or purple, fading to white or silver as time passes. Long and thin, doctors refer to them by their medical name of  stria or striae. Alternatively, those incurred during pregnancy are known as striae gravidarum. Manifesting mainly on the:

  • tummy (abdomen)
  • breasts
  • upper arms
  • buttocks
  • thighs
  • shoulders (in bodybuilders)

stretch marks can be a cause of embarrassment for both men and women, especially during the summer months where stretch marks on thighs and the stomach can make people particularly self-conscious.

Prior to stretch marks appearing, the affected skin will become thin, flattened and pink, and with the high likelihood of itchiness. They can be pink, reddish-brown or dark brown, depending on your skin colour, as well as the characteristically purple, red and silvery-white. In the beginning, the lines will be slightly raised and may feel wrinkly, before eventually flattening out. During this flattening process they’ll start to fade.

Stretch marks usually become less prominent over time, but this can take years so it’s easy to see why many adults opt to intervene by choosing safe and effective treatments.

Causes

Skin that quickly stretches as a consequence of sudden growth or weight gain causes stretch marks. The marks form as the stretching leads to the middle layer of the skin, (known as the dermis) to tear, meaning the deeper skin layers visibly show though. With the mid-layers of skin being made up of strong, inter-connected fibres that enables your skin to stretch during periods of body growth, the skin can overstretch and the fibres, though strong, can break during sudden growth spurts.

Breaks in the dermis mean blood vessels located below those mid-levels of skin show through giving stretch marks their common initial red or purple shade. What turns the stretch marks on thighs or any other body part to change to the silvery-white colour is the fact that the pale-coloured fat beneath the skin is still visible, even as the blood vessels eventually get smaller.

A number of factors contribute to sudden growth that leads to stretch marks. Rapid weight gain, growth spurts, particularly in boys going through puberty and the later stages of pregnancy are all contributors. Body builders and athletes whose muscles grow can also experience them.

If a close relative such as your mother, has suffered stretch marks in the past, you are more likely to experience them too. Underlying health conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome can also result in stretch marks, as can the inappropriate use of Corticosteroids creams and tablets used to treat skin conditions.

Recommended Treatments

Rather than fearing and dreading situations where your legs, stomach and back are exposed, such as at the swimming baths or on the beach where you should be enjoying yourself, we offer the following treatments to effectively remove troublesome stretch marks: