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Stretch Marks

What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are a normal part of puberty for most people. Stretch marks are also a common side effect of obesity and pregnancy. During pregnancy, stretch marks may be present on the breasts, abdomen, legs, and buttocks.

Stretch marks are a characteristic of Cushing's syndrome.

Stretch marks are also called striae gravidarum, striae distensae, striae atrophicans, striae rubra (which are red) and striae alba (white).

What Causes Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are caused by rapid growth or weight gain. Stretch marks happen when the tissue under the skin is pulled by rapid growth or stretching. The skin is usually fairly elastic, however, when it is overstretched, the normal production of collagen is disrupted. As a result, scars called stretch marks may form. Collagen is the major protein that makes up the connective tissue in your skin.

Stretch marks can be a side effect of dieting. If you lose too much weight too fast, stretch marks may occur. If you are trying to loose weight, don't aim to lose more than one pound a week.

What do Stretch Marks Look Like?

The appearance of stretch marks will depend on the color of your skin. Stretch marks start out as pink, reddish brown, brown, or very dark brown streaks. After time the color of stretch marks can fade to a more silvery color that’s lighter than your other skin.

Can the Appearance of Stretch Marks be Reduced?

Laser therapy can help improve the appearance of stretch marks. During laser surgery, lasers are used to reduce the color of dark stretch marks and stimulate the production of pigment-making cells in already faded stretch marks.

Laser therapy can also be used help the body produce collagen to help restore the elasticity of the skin in depressed stretch marks.

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