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Stretch Marks

Stretch Marks Atlanta | Dr. Kathleen J. Smith

Stretch Marks

Stretch marks, also known as vergetures, striae atrophicae (slightly depressed marks), striae cutis distensae, lineae atrophicae, striae distinsae, and lineae labicante, are common to both men and women of all ages. These marks occur as a result of skin’s stretching over a prolonged period, such as during pregnancy (marks are called striae gravidarum), growth, bodybuilding, or changes in body weight. Many people consider the skin as a reflection of the individual’s health and attractiveness. Genetics may affect some individuals’ tendency to create striae.

According to Harvard University School of Medicine, tiny collagen and elastin fibers, along with blood vessels, are stretched and eventually rupture, causing stretch marks to appear. Collagen is the structural protein responsible for the formation of about eighty percent of the body’s connective tissues. Collagen is important because it maintains cellular integrity, acting as a kind of “cement” between the cells. It’s important in tissue repair and wound healing. Elastin, along with glycosaminoglycans, allows the skin to snap back after stretching. It works in concert with collagen to make the body’s connective tissues.

Prevention

Healthy habits, including proper nutrition (including the necessary RDA levels of vitamins and minerals), hydration, regular exercise (other than weight training or bodybuilding), sun and environmental protection, hygiene, and routine skin care can help prevent the formation of marks. Dry skin encourages formation of striae. Supple, moist and healthy skin is protected from many types of skin conditions, including stretch marks. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith may recommend certain topical medicines during pregnancy or other stages of rapid growth or body change to maintain skin moisture and its ability to withstand the formation of striae.

Formation

New marks, known as lineae rubra, may be pink, red, or purple in color. Marks usually fade over time, turning a silvery white color. These stretch marks are known as striae alba. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta, a triple-board certified dermatology practice, evaluates, diagnoses, and treats patients concerned about the appearance or numbers of striae on their skin.

Striae occur when the patient’s skin stretches, causing dilation of capillaries and blood vessels in the skin. Over time, skin’s ‘remodeling’ may remove melanin from the marks, causing them to be less noticeable. In this case, the patient may moisturize and maintain good health practices to prevent new marks from forming.

Over ninety percent of pregnant women experience striae gravidarum, and some patients experience a large number of marks. Multiple births or an extreme weight gain during pregnancy can cause more marks to form. About three-fourths of all teenage girls get striae as breasts and body shape changes occur after puberty. About half of teenage boys develop these marks as their shoulders and chests. Patients of both sexes, young and old, form striae. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith can help all patients to manage the appearance or numbers of striae.

Evaluation

The average width of striae ranges from about one to ten millimeters. Striae may form parallel to each other or at a ninety degree angle to the skin’s directional stretch. They form predominantly on the abdomen, back, breasts, buttocks, thighs, or shoulders, but striae can appear anywhere on the body. Some skin itch may be present as stretch marks form, but pain is rare. It’s important to consult Dr. Smith, a board-certified dermatologist, about any prolonged skin itch or skin pain to obtain a diagnosis and recommended treatment options.

Treatment

After confirmed diagnosis, Dr. Kathleen J. Smith may suggest a variety of treatment options, including topical creams, lotions, or oils to moisturize existing striae and protect the skin from the potential of developing new marks. Dr. Smith has developed a compounded stretch marks cream as a treatment option for patients. This compounded stretch marks cream contains Tretinoin, peptides, salicylic acid, latic acid, hyaluronic acid, ceramides and argan oil. As well, chemical peels or laser treatments may be suggested for some patients. In some rare instances, surgical excision can help patients to remove unsightly or disfiguring striae. In all cases, modern treatment methods can help patients achieve a better appearance and potentially decrease the incidence of new stretch marks.

Misconceptions

Striae aren’t preliminary to the progression of other diseases, e.g. leucoderma, and they are not contagious. They are not necessarily an indicator of poor general health. Obese patients, as well as normal weight and slender individuals, all get stretch marks. Losing weight won’t cause these marks to disappear. The appearance of striae needn’t diminish the patient’s attractiveness or self-esteem.

Conclusion

Many treatment options are available to patients with stretch marks. Those living in the Atlanta metro area, including North Decatur, Sandy Springs, Belvedere Park, Forest Park, Druid Hills and North Druid Hills, East Point, Panthersville, Redan, Gresham Park, Doraville, Tucker, and Chamblee, GA should contact Dr. Kathleen J. Smith at Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta at 678-904-4932.

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