Stretch marks, also known as striae, are lined scars that appear on the skin when it is stretched too far, too quickly. These occur when the middle section of the skin, the dermis, stretches very thin and then tears. After it tears, blood vessels show through the top layer of the skin, which accounts for the pink, red, and/or purplish look of stretch marks. When some time has gone by the dermis heals and the stretch marks go back to a color that is closer to the non-marked skin or turn silver/white. They may show up on your shoulders, chest, back, and stomach.
Many people in our society do not believe stretch marks are a pleasant mark on the body. They feel it reflects poorly on the skin. Women, especially, worry about how their stretch marks look and whether they are desirable to their partner, but men may also worry about the look of their body, especially if they have many stretch marks. So, what can you do to lower this concern and enjoy the look of your body again? Does your partner care about these marks or do they enjoy the pleasure you give them? Let’s explore more about stretch marks, the ways you get them, and how to enjoy sexual relations with these scars.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CAUSES OF STRETCH MARKS?
Some people get them as they gain weight, muscle, or when they are teenagers and they are going through puberty.
During puberty, growth is fast and the skin may not be able to keep up. The skin grows very quickly, stretches and tears as the body outpaces it.
Body training. These men build muscles so quickly there skin does not have time to keep up with the growth. Often, these men have stretch marks on their shoulders and pecs.
Weight gain. Like the others, the increase in weight forces the skin to stretch past its limit and this leads to stretch marks. Usually, when more weight is added, there is an increase in stretch marks as the skin stretches more.
If stretch marks appear without weight gain, body training, or you are not going through puberty, you should contact your physician as there may be an underlying condition that is causing stretch marks to appear.
While, most times, stretch marks are harmless scars that appear from within the skin, sometimes they can come from medical conditions such as Cushing’s disease, diabetes, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. In other cases, medications may lead to the development of stretch marks including steroids, certain hormone therapies, and cortisone creams.
FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT STRETCH MARKS
One fact that may seem surprising in our world is that stretch marks affect nearly 80 percent of all American men and women. While television shows, movies, and magazines may show chiseled and bodies that have perfect skin, this is just 20 percent of the population. So, you are not alone with your stretch marks.
Hormones factor into whether or not you will get stretch marks. They determine the elastin fibers and collagen that comprise the middle layer of your skin where stretch marks form. When your hormones shift, this may lower your skin’s elasticity, which can lead to stretch marks.
Genetics play a part in the development of stretch marks. If stretch marks are in your genes, then you will develop them no matter your weight or hormones. In this case, stretch marks are inevitable.
Stretch marks that are new and are purple, red, or pink are called striae rubra in the medical field, while those that have aged and turned silver/white are called striae alba.
If you would like to prevent future stretch marks, staying hydrated and eating healthily is an excellent way to achieve this. Vitamin C, Zinc and keeping your skin from getting too dry will help lower the chance you will get more stretch marks.
GETTING RID OF STRETCH MARKS
While not harmful to you, if you feel uncomfortable with your stretch marks you can reduce or eliminate their appearance. Though they are common to many people, stretch marks can lower your body-image. To combat this, you can go to your local pharmacy and get many over-the-counter products but the effectiveness of these varies. While many may claim they will reduce or eliminate your stretch marks, most have little to no effect.
If you are really concerned with the appearance of your skin, you should speak with your doctor. He/she can prescribe topical creams such as tretinoin. These are often used to treat acne but have been shown to be quite effective in reducing the visibility of stretch marks. This cream may boost the skin’s connectedness and decrease tearing of skin that is already on the body. In addition, you can also use laser and dermabrasion treatments to support normal skin color and texture. These will smooth out stretch marks and help them blend in better with your typical skin color, including severe stretch marks.
BUT, SHOULD YOU BE ASHAMED OF YOUR STRETCH MARKS?
No, your stretch marks show that you have lived life and adapted to new situations. If you went through puberty, your body changed perfectly to accommodate the fast growth period and left behind some amazing lines to commemorate this occasion. If you gained or lost weight, your body adjusted for you to embrace these changes.
The world may tell you that your stretch marks are unsightly, but these body ideals are based on outdated notions of perfection. The perfectly chiseled body with blemish-free skin. In truth, those who have no scars on their body have not had many adventures. And, you do not want to be a man who sits around letting life and all its adventures pass you by. Get out there, make new scars, and tell their stories.
Your body is yours and it is excellent as it is. Stretch marks do not define your body or who you are. They do not preclude your from a loving, passionate, sexual relationship either. Remember, 240 million Americans have similar scars as you. Just different stories.