• Stretch Marks (striae)


    What are Stretch Marks?

    Stretch marks are fine lines on the body occurring from tissue under your skin tearing from rapid growth or over-stretching. It is a common condition that does NOT cause any significant medical problems but can be of cosmetic concern for some person(s). Other names for stretch marks are: striae distensae, striae atrophicans, striae rubra (red), and striae alba (white).







    Who gets Stretch Marks?

    Stretch marks occur in certain areas of the body where skin is subjected to continuous and progressive stretching. These include:

        • Abdomen and Breast(s) in pregnant women
        • Thighs, Buttocks, Breast(s) in adolescent(s) undergoing growth spurts
        • Shoulder(s) in body-builder(s)
        • Obese or overweight people

    Stretch marks can also occur from prolonged use of oral and/or topical corticosteroids. They are also a feature of the disease, Cushing’s syndrome, where increased adrenal and cortical activity (i.e. excessive circulating cortisol) is implicated in their development.


    What do Stretch Marks look like?

    An early sign of stretch marks developing is when an area of skin becomes flattened and thin with a pink color. This may occasionally become itchy. Soon reddish to purplish lines develop (striae rubra). Over time these will lighten to become whitish to flesh-colored and much less conspicuous. Stretch marks are usually several centimeters long and 1-10mm wide. Those caused by corticosteroid use or Cushing’s syndrome are often larger and wider and may involve other regions, including the face.


    What treatment is available?

    Stretch marks are generally only a cosmetic issue, but rarely, if extensive they may ulcerate or tear easily in an accident. Stretch marks occurring in adolescent(s) become less visible over time and will generally require no treatment. In other cases, if stretch marks are a cause for concern then the following treatment(s) may be tried, but have NOT been proven to be effective:

        • Topical retinoid therapy
        • Chemical peels
        • Pulse dye laser therapy