Stretch marks are purplish streaks and scars that normally appear on the buttocks, hips, abdomen, breast, and arms. They are a common side effect of growing too fast. They form when the dermis (the middle elastic layer of your skin) is stretched breaking down the elasticity in your skin. As the elasticity breaks down, the skin tries to reinforce itself with collagen in the over stretched skin, thus causing stretch marks.
Factors that contribute to the formation of stretch marks are:
Heredity – some skin types are just genetically predisposed. If you mother had stretch marks, chances are you will.
Weight – excess rapid weight gain as found in pregnancy and bodybuilding or to the other degree excessive weight loss.
Skin type – Some skin types are dryer than others thus having less elasticity, while well-hydrated skin tends to have more elasticity.
Removal and prevention of stretch marks:
Surgical methods – Dermabrasion, chemical peel, and advancement in laser treatments can be used to treat stretch marks. As with any cosmetic surgery, age, skin type, and even diet will influence the results.
Lotions and Crèmes – Advancements have been made with over the counter crèmes. If you are pregnant or body building, consult with your doctor to begin a preventative treatment for stretch marks.
Diet – Maintain healthy hydrated skin by drinking plenty of water. Hydrated skin keeps your skin soft, supple, and less likely to develop stretch marks. Caffeinated coffee, tea, and soda tend to dehydrate the skin leaving you more vulnerable to stretch marks. Eat foods that promote skin health such as foods high in zinc, vitamins A, C, and D, and protein rich foods.
Remember that not all stretch marks are created equal. They age and heal differently depending on the skin type, heredity, diet, and hydration. In time, they will fade, but the best advice is to maintain healthy skin, which will minimize the effects of stretch marks if they should occur.