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Stretch Marks - Are They Here To Stay?

Stretch marks, we have all heard of them and most of us have a few or a lot that we carry around as battle scars. They develop when we experience several different aspects of life including pregnancy, rapid weight gain, rapid growth like seen during puberty, or from rapid muscle building (body builders). Stretch marks can vary in color from bright red to a faded out version which appears silvery white.

Although stretch marks appear when the skin is "stretched" the culprit behind their formation is actually the glucocorticoid hormones. It is not the stretching of the skin that causes the problem, it is the actual hormonal changes in the body that is occurring; during pregnancy, weight gain, muscle building and puberty. Our skin contains collagen and elastin fibers produced by cells called fibroblasts which function by maintaining the skins natural tone and elasticity. The glucocorticoid hormones interfere with this production causing the epidermis and the dermis layers of our skin to weaken and tear thus the scarring.

There has long been controversy over whether or not topical creams are effective in removing stretch marks. The answer is yes and no. The problem with searching for topical solutions is that there is so many products on the market to choose from and many are expensive. They all claim to be effective but unfortunately many do not have the scientific proof to back this up. That being said there are some products that have been proven to drastically reduce the appearance of stretch marks. This is the important key to remember, effective topical products reduce the appearance of the stretch marks, they do not make them disappear completely.

A drastic and yet effective method for getting rid of stretch marks is by removing the affected portion of skin, this can either be done by laser surgery or by traditional surgery. In traditional surgery the skin is simply cut out and removed this is often done after extreme weight loss where there is excess skin available. Laser surgery is also a means to essentially remove the skin, areas of skin are removed and new skin then grows in to replace the old. The trade off for surgery is of course scarring so options definitely need to be weighed.

In recent years there has been the emergence of chemical peels and microdermabrasion which are used to remedy many skin concerns and issues. These techniques are now being utilized to remove stretch marks and may be an attractive option because they are generally less expensive then surgical procedures and are not invasive which means virtually no down time.

Stretch marks are very individual and therefore no one treatment is right for everyone. Do your homework so that you are realistic about what to expect; results often depend on the degree of scarring, the depth of the scar and the age of the scar. If stretch marks are something you can not live with then remember it is always best to consult with a dermatologist to you determine which treatments or procedures would be best for you.

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