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Hormonal Variations and Stretch Marks

Deciding how to avoid and treat stretch marks needs understanding on the structure of the skin matrix, including intercellular components that act as scaffolds for the different structural components of the skin and are responsible of the skin's physical properties. Skin firmness, strength and elasticity depend on these factors.

During our life, the skin matrix, fountain of several resources, will be produced and consumed quite often. On one end the skin matrix is continuously produced by fibroblasts and on the other the skin matrix is degraded into proteins and further into their amino-acid components whenever it is injured, malformed or discarded and then recycled. This degradation is done by enzymes, also known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMP). By destroying key matrix proteins, like collagen and elastin, MMP enzymes have a little known yet crucial function in skin physiology.

A Balance between Collagen Synthesis and Collagen Degradation

In healthy or youthful skin, the production and degradation of the skin matrix are equilibrated: damaged or redundant matrix is recycled while the deficit is replenished by the continuous production. Sadly, this intricate balance gets impeded because of endocrine (hormonal), physical, clinical and metabolic factors, and so skin firming and strengthening is altered.

As we age not enough of the matrix is synthesized and too much is degraded. As with any supply-demand problem, it can be brought back to equilibrium by either elevating supply (boosting synthesis of the matrix) or minimizing demand ( impeding the breakdown).

In special, the production of elastin is physiologically important, although elastin is only 2% of the total protein in the skin. These skin fibres confer the resiliency of skin. Elastin production and the regulation of the proportion of cross-linked insoluble elastin and collagen fibres depend on the interaction between 3 factors:

- Participation of active fibroblasts.

- Relative amount of proteoglycans, fibronectin, glycosaminoglycans and laminin among other skin matrix components inside the dermis.

- Enzymes that are responsible of both the cell degradation processes that allow the breakdown of dead cells into their basic amino-acids and their recycling for the creation of new proteins (amino-acid chains).

So be aware of any stretch mark cream / care solution that contain soluble collagen and/or elastin, they won't do the trick. What is needed is the biosynthesis and appropriate self-assembly of complex skin components from inside out your body.

Hormonal variations alter skin metabolism. This occurs specially in a pregnant belly, a growing body, puberty, weight lifting while also taking steroids, or sudden weight gains. Not much is known about what can be done to modulate those hormonal variations during adolescence or pregnancy, belly and hips skin being the most affected, but of course weight lifting & consuming steroids is under your control as well as sudden weight gains.


skin, skin matrix, skin metabolism, skin components, skin elastin, skin affected, structure skin, skin skin, skin physiology, skin production
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