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Stretch marks

Related Terms

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Background

  • Stretch marks are a form of scarring caused by the overstretching of skin. This stretching disrupts the normal production of collagen and a scar results. Stretch marks are not a disease, but rather a term to refer to the physical appearance of these scars.
  • The term "stretch marks" is a nonprofessional term. Dermatologists (skin doctors) refer to stretch marks by their scientific names, such as striae distensae, striae atrophicans, striae rubra (red stretch marks) and striae alba (white stretch marks). Though stretch marks first appear as reddish or purple lines, they usually fade very gradually to a lighter color.
  • Stretch marks may appear anywhere on the body. They are most likely to appear in places where fat is stored, or that have a tendency to stretch. Most common places are the abdomen (especially near the belly button), breasts, upper arms, underarms, thighs (both inner and outer), and buttocks. They pose no health risk in and of themselves, and do not compromise the body's ability to function healthily.
  • Stretch marks may occur with pregnancy, obesity, bodybuilding and, occasionally, puberty. Women with darker skin are less likely to get stretch marks. Though stretch marks are relatively common, especially among athletes and women who have given birth, many individuals feel self-conscious about their scars.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.