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Why do some women get stretch marks and others don't?

Why do some women get stretch marks and others don't?

Most women develop stretch marks at some point in their lives. They stem from many causes – pregnancy, weight gain and loss, and just the natural ageing process. While stretch marks are something many women don't want to think about, recognising them and the risk for them may allow women to take steps to get treatment early. That includes moisturiser and other treatment options. 

What Are Stretch Marks?

A stretch mark is an irregular line or streaks on the skin. This mark is typically in an area where the skin has been stretched or distended extensively in some way. It often occurs during pregnancy or in obesity, but it can occur for various other reasons. Many people ask what causes stretch marks once they notice the lines on their skin that look and feel like scars.

Causes and Risk Factors

It's not fully clear why some women experience stretch marks. They may occur for unknown reasons. They can also happen at any age, depending on the circumstances. As a result, it's important to carefully consider this list of causes of stretch marks. Remember that some people who develop stretch marks may never have seen significant weight gain. Others may have several pregnancies without developing any sign of them.

So, what causes stretch marks? Here are some of the most common causes.

Age

This is one of the causes of stretch marks that no one can overcome. Age is a common reason for a person to develop stretch marks and the cause of it is generally a result of the change in the composition of the skin cells. When the skin is young and healthy, collagen is produced within the body to help plump up and make the skin more firm. Unfortunately, elastin levels and natural collagen begins to fall as a person gets older. When this happens, it causes a situation in which the skin is no longer as flexible or firm as it once was. When there is damage to the skin, it is far more difficult for it to recover from that damage. 

Younger skin that is unable to stretch as much as older skin may experience a rapid weight gain. This weight gain can cause the development of stretch marks over time. Younger skill allows for a higher amount of weight gain to occur before the skin stretches. In older skin, the skin is less likely to heal after a significant amount of weight gain and loss. This gain and loss make it harder for the skin to take on its natural healthy look. 

In either situation, the use of stretch mark cream and other products may offer some help early on. For example, the application of a body oil may help improve the skin's elasticity early on, helping to ensure it remains more flexible and comfortable over time and making stretch marks a bit less likely to occur. You can also use these types of products after the skin has stretch marks to reduce their appearance. 

Weight Gain

When it comes to stretch marks, weight gain is a concern for anyone. But why does it happen? This concern is especially true in situations where the weight gain is substantial and comes on rapidly. The weight gain changes the consistency of the skin, pushing it outward to accommodate the increase of fatty tissues under it. This weight gain causes the skin to stretch, thinning in some areas to accommodate the added weight. The same occurs when muscle tissue is gained. To accommodate the larger size of the muscle, the skin is pushed outward, causing it to stretch out. 

It is common for skin elasticity to limit the skin from stretching easily, causing a tear in the collagen structure closed under the skin's surface. This tear is what typically causes the presence of pink or brown discolouration on the skin, typical of stretch marks. This tearing of the collagen doesn't cause an open wound – it does not cause bleeding or bruising. The epidermal layer is where this change in the skin's condition occurs. 

A common cause of this is in pregnant women. The weight gain from pregnancy happens rapidly in a period of just months. As a result, the skin cannot build fast enough to accommodate the growing need. This weight gain causes stretch marks to occur along the belly area where the pregnancy is obvious. 

Some teens also see a significant amount of weight change rapidly. Even at an early age, these factors can impact the development of stretch marks. It can happen during puberty and in instances in which there is rapid muscle gain related to bodybuilding.

Hormones

Another significant cause of stretch marks comes from hormones. Of all of the stretch marks causes, this is one of the most significant that can impact anyone at any age. Hormones impact skin health overall. For men, a high testosterone level often helps to minimise the onset of stretch marks. The skin is more resistant to them. That's because testosterone contributes to the amount of moisture in the skin and the amount of oil produced by it. When the skin has a high level of moisture and natural hydration, this often leads to collagen production. There is less risk of stretch marks development when there's more collagen because the skin is firm and flexible.

When there are balanced estrogen levels, another key hormone for skin health, that can also help to maintain a healthy structure for the skin. It also helps to improve hydration levels by supporting hyaluronic acid and collagen production levels. These are common needs for women. When proper collagen is present, that creates smoother skin that feels and looks plumper and more flexible, it also contributes to a more radiant complexion overall. 

When there is a sudden and significant change in hormone levels, all of this production of collagen drops. This drop can cause a significant change in the skin's texture and its ability to maintain proper hydration. The result is a higher likelihood of developing stretch marks. 

Various factors can contribute to poor hormone management in the body. It happens, often, during puberty and pregnancy, when hormones shift to accommodate the body's new needs. For women who are older, menopause can also create the onset of estrogen changes and fluctuations. Older men who are producing less testosterone may also see these changes. 

When these changes happen, the skin is unable to meet the demand of weight gain or loss. As a result, natural collagen levels are reduced, and elastin production levels fall. This reduction in collagen creates thinner skin, and the skin becomes more elastic, making it more likely to develop stretch marks. 

Genetics

Genetics can indeed play a role in the overall health of the skin, and in that way, it can impact the production of stretch marks. Genetics play a significant role in determining if a person is likely to struggle with stretch marks or not. If your family tree has other members who have had stretch marks, especially your mother or father, your risk of having them is higher as well. If both parents develop them, that increases your risk even more so for having them.

A genetic trait is passed down from one family member to the other through DNA that plays a role in how elastic the skin is. Elasticity matters – if the skin is able to stretch and contract naturally, there is less risk of developing stretch marks. Elastin is the connective tissue that plays a role in whether the skin can do this. With proper elastin levels, the skin can stretch without tearing or tearing the collagen level that's located in the epidermal layer. 

When genetics are a factor, that does not mean you can't see improvement in the appearance of stretch marks. On the contrary, it makes them more likely, but there may be some steps you can take to see a reduction in how obvious they are or how often they develop.

How to Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks

If you have stretch marks, understanding their causes is helpful because it may help you avoid the development of new scarring of the skin. However, for many people, what's most important is knowing what to do about the process. Unfortunately, there is not always a cure for them. However, there are a few simple things you may be able to do to see improvement in how visible they are. Taking care of your skin and eating a healthy diet may also provide a way to reduce the impact of stretch marks. Here are some potential solutions to stretch marks.

Maintaining skin hydration

Skin hydration is a very important part of the process for minimising the onset and appearance of stretch marks. Hydrated skin is less likely to break, and it is more elastic overall. There are various ways you can moisturise skin. One of the options is to apply lotions and topicals to your skin that can offer simple access to moisture. For example, consider the use of body oil, such as Cradle & Tonic's body oil products. It allows for the moisture to remain close to the skin over a longer period of time, allowing the skin to absorb more of that moisture and helping to improve overall flexibility and suppleness. Look for a stretch mark cream that offers this specifically. 

To use it, simply apply to the area consistently both prior to the development of stretch marks, such as during pregnancy and after, to help them fade away. The best products offer natural ingredients that your body can easily use. 

Micro-needling 

For those looking for stretch mark removal, the use of micro-needling may be an ideal option. It is a safe way to get rid of these marks if you have darker skin tones. Individuals who have a darker skin tone have hyperpigmentation that can be more noticeable when stretch marks develop. This procedure does not hurt, but it can be one of the best overall options for removing stretch marks in some people.

In it, very small pins are placed into the surface of the skin. These pins are designed to create tiny wounds in the area. This triggers the body's immune system to take action to heal the skin. As it does that, collagen production is increased, which allows for new skin cells to form that are healthy, plump, and more flexible. This can help to replace the damaged cells in the area. The end result of this type of procedure is the reduction of stretch mark appearance on the skin. It takes a bit of time and numerous treatments. However, there are very few adverse effects of the process, and it can create a significant improvement over time.

RF skin resurfacing treatments

Another stretch market removal option is the use of radiofrequency. RF skin resurfacing treatments use a specific type of technology (called NanoFractional RF) to deliver a boost of thermal heat deep into the skin's surface. This does not hurt, and you are not likely to be burned during the process. However, it works in much the same way as micro-needling. The deep thermal energy created in the skin's cells triggers the body's immune system to take action. As this happens, the natural collagen production cycle ramps up. That means more collagen is produced to fill out those skin cells and create new, healthy skin cells. The damaged areas of the skin are repaired naturally by the body. This process also boosts the elastin production in the skin, which also helps to improve the skin's texture.

This method may take a few treatments. However, it can gradually help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks in most people. This is because the size of the marks, especially those in areas such as the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs, is significantly reduced. 

FAQ

Does everyone have stretch marks?

No, not everyone will develop stretch marks. However, people who have skin that's less likely to stretch when there is significant weight gain are more likely to develop stretch marks. Those who have less hydrated skin and a lower amount of collagen present are also more likely to have this condition develop. In some people, genetics also plays a role in it.

Why do I keep getting more and more stretch marks?

People may develop stretch marks weight gain as their skin grows and stretches to accommodate weight gain either from muscle or fat. When the skin cannot do this properly due to low collagen levels, stretch marks will likely develop. Improving hydration of the skin may help to reduce that from occurring. 

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