What is a Stretch Mark?
Stretch marks (or Striae Gravidarum) are the scars on your skin caused by damage to the elastic fibers that help skin stretch. They are perfectly normal and are formed due to rapid stretching of the skin, which gives rise to red, thinned, glossy marks.
What Do Stretch Marks Look Like?
Depending on your skin color, stretch marks start out as pink, reddish brown, brown, or very dark brown streaks. After some time they can fade to a more silvery color that's lighter than the surrounding skin. But all in all, they look like your skin has changed its pattern.
Where Do They Typically Occur?
They can happen anywhere on your body, but are most common on hips, breasts, and buttocks. A more common place for people who indulge in lifting weights is the shoulder. But as mentioned earlier, there is no real specific place for them to occur.
How Can I Avoid Getting Them?
It depends on how elastic your skin is. You may be able to avoid it by doing regular warm ups. You could also include Vitamin E capsules in your diet for additional precaution, but if you are genetically bound to possess stretch marks, there's little that you might be able to do to prevent it.
Do Creams Formulated For Stretch Marks Help?
Many women use various types of creams, lotions, and oils to try to prevent stretch marks from forming. Unfortunately, while such products soothe and soften the skin, there is no medical evidence to prove that they actually work. So, beware of the advertisers trying to sell you expensive products claiming that their products will prevent stretch marks.
Apparently, using 0.1 percent Tretinoin cream (commonly known by the trade name Retin-A) on stretch marks will slightly reduce the length and width of stretch marks. (N.B. Please use these creams only after consulting your doctor). While regular exercise and stretching can be of help to help you get rid of these marks, it's also true that you might want to continue the stretching aspect of exercise, as it makes your body understand that stretching is normal.
Laser therapy can help improve the appearance of stretch marks. In this procedure, a surgeon uses different types of lasers, depending on the color of the stretch marks. Traditionally, one type reduces the color of dark stretch marks, while the other stimulates the production of pigment-making cells in already faded stretch marks. There is an even newer type of laser therapy that can help the body produce collagen to help restore the elasticity of the skin in depressed stretch marks.
Although laser therapy is a very serious and expensive route to follow, it's worth a try. You would need to talk to a skin specialist before making a final decision. It's easy to get under the surgical knife, but if the relief is short-lived, it would definitely be a sheer waste of money.