Stretch marks, medical name “striae”, are fine lines that develop when deep tissue under the skin tears as a result of over-stretching (e.g. pregnancy or rapid weight gain), or from rapid growth (e.g. on the back during a teenage growth spurt).
Stretch marks are common and are mainly a cosmetic concern for patients. Stretch marks often start out as red-purple (“striae rubra”) in colour, and eventually fade into a silver-white colour (“striae alba”) which makes them less noticeable.
Stretch marks are usually several centimetres long and 2-10mm wide.
Stretch marks can develop on the belly, hips and breasts of pregnant women, on the shoulders of body builders, in overweight or obese people, and in adolescents during a growth spurt.
Stretch marks can also occasionally occur from prolonged use of oral or topical steroids, and in a medical condition called Cushing’s syndrome.
Unfortunately there is no great treatment for stretch marks; the best thing is to prevent stretch marks in the first place if possible.