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Stretch Marks

Information And Treatment

Stretch marks are thin linear scars, formed when the skin becomes overstretched and tears. They're usually red or purple at first and then fade, over time, into scar tissue slightly lighter than one's natural skin tone.

Stretch marks frequently accompany rapid weight and muscle gain, and most commonly form in areas that are more likely to rapidly accumulate fat deposits, such as the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, and breasts. They appear all the time on the tummies of pregnant women, and are also common in adolescents undergoing growth spurts.

Susceptibility to stretch marks is hormonal. The hormonal factor is, apparently, caused by the hormone cortisol and its relatives (called glucocorticoids), which prevent cells called fibroblasts from correctly synthesizing collagen, resulting in weaker skin more prone to tearing.

Elevated levels of hormones are the reason that pregnancy and adolescence render people particularly susceptible to stretch marks (as both teens and pregnant women are awash in hormones.) One recently developed, potentially effective corrective procedure for stretch marks involves injecting new fibroblasts into the skin.

Age range: Stretch marks form during any period of sudden weight gain. Adolescents often get them during a growth spurt, and women may get them during pregnancy.