Stretch marks occur on several different scenarios. Dr. Schultz explains each of the scenarios under which stretch marks occur and why they look the way they do.
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Dr. Neal Schultz: Hello I'm Dr. Neal Schultz and welcome to DermTV. We get lots of questions about stretch marks so let me tell you a little bit about them. We recognize stretch marks as either being straight lines on the skin or sometimes zigzag lines on the skin. They tend to be pink when they're new stretch marks, white in color when they're older stretch marks, and the surface or texture has a peculiar cigarette paper-like quality. It almost looks like the skin has been stretched; it looks thinner. If you look at them under the microscope, there is a loss and damage to the collagen and the elastic tissue. We see them in three contexts the most common is as a result of pregnancy where they tend to occur on the abdomen and on the breasts, and we also see them in people who have just put on a lot of weight, 20-30-40 lb, and we see them after growth spurts in teenagers where they tend to occur on the back or on the thighs. We're not really sure of what's going on with the mechanism of stretch marks. Is it because the skin is stretching, is it the rate of stretching, is it the amount of stretching, or there hormonal factors involved or maybe a genetic predisposition? The medical community doesn't have all of the answers to these questions. We do know that stretch marks are harmless and, while they have been difficult to treat, there are some new treatments that are helping to make an improvement in the way stretch marks look and I'll tell you about them in another episode. Please join me again at dermtv.com. If you have a question please send me by visiting dermtv.com/question. I'm Dr. Neal Schultz and thank you for watching today.