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Gynaecology

Gynaecology Gynaecology

Stretch marks

Stretch marks or striae are marks on the skin characterised by localised thinning and depression of the epidermis, skin’s most superficial layer, and by the purplish, pink or pearly colour they can develop.

Why do they appear?

They appear due to the breakage and partial loss of collagen and elastin fibres in the affected area, causing reduced cohesion of the skin and elasticity of the tissue.

 

They very commonly appear during pregnancy, particularly past 24 weeks’ gestation. While the causes of the development of stretch marks are yet to be determined, there are certain predisposing factors that have been identified in pregnancy. These include: susceptibility to develop stretch marks or family history of stretch marks, greater weight gain during pregnancy, high body weight prior to pregnancy and high newborn baby weight. Younger mothers have a greater predisposition to develop stretch marks and they tend to be more severe.

 

Hormones reduce the adhesion between collagen fibres, making them less resistant to stretching. In addition, the epidermis becomes thinner, which increases the visibility of stretch marks.

 

Alongside pregnancy, there are certain situations in which people are more likely to develop stretch marks: puberty, sudden changes in weight or height, corticosteroid treatment, following strict diets, etc.

Which areas are most affected?

Stretch marks vary in quantity and severity. The most affected areas are the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, thighs and hips.

 

They present as reddish linear depressions which later take on a purplish tone. Finally, over time, they usually progressively lighten, eventually turning white.

How can I prevent them?

Treatment for stretch marks is primarily focused on preventing their appearance. To achieve this, it is very important to use topical emollient products to keep skin well hydrated, nourished and elastic.

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