For many, the sudden emergence of stretch marks is a cause of major concern.
Relax, stretch marks are common. They begin to develop at different ages and stages of your life and can evolve for several reasons. While some may appreciate them, stretch marks deal a blow to the confidence of many. Whatever the case, it’s important to not be ashamed to talk about stretch marks, or as medical experts call them, “striae”.
“Your skin was created to be elastic. To a certain extent after stretching, the skin can return back to its original condition,” Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Fatema Abbas, from Al-Shefa Polyclinic told Doha News.
“If this extent is passed, then the collagen cells break apart and stretch marks happen. These stretch marks can be different colours depending on your skin tone. Initially, they range from pink, purple, red, brown, or a darker brown. Over time, they either fade or take on a white or silver colour,” she added.
Dr. Fatema explains that there are many reasons for stretch marks to appear or grow. Hormones, genetics, puberty, pregnancy, and fast growth during adolescence or rapid weight gain, are but a few.
“Both guys and girls can and do get stretch marks. It’s incredibly common for striae to appear during puberty. People also get them from heavy lifting because they quickly develop muscle that can cause the dermis to tear,” Dr. Fatema noted.
Despite this, stretch marks are commonly associated with pregnancy and tend to appear near the final period due to the excessive stretching of skin, hormones, and weight gain that comes with carrying a baby.
For this reason, women are keen on preventing stretch marks from developing during their pregnancies while others embrace them as symbols of strength and endurance. For experts like Dr. Fatema, perspectives on striae is not a cause for concern because stretch marks themselves are painless and harmless.
For mother-of-one Hiba, coming to terms with stretch marks for the first time proved to be difficult, but this soon changed.
“At first, I didn’t make me feel too great about myself and I became self-conscious of my body. Now, two years on, I’ve grown to accept them as my child’s artwork to me. These marks are proof of the miracle of child birth and an important reminder of motherhood,” Hiba told Doha News.
“These are my stripes and I am proud of them,” she added.
For pregnancies, there are ways to help prevent them from appearing, Dr. Fatema notes.
“It’s helpful to start using creams early on in the pregnancy and to maintain usage in order to keep your skin hydrated. This supports preventing the growth of stretch marks,” she said.
In some cases, however, factors such as genetics will make the stretch marks develop regardless of what is done to prevent them. When this happens, it’s important to start a treatment plan with your dermatologist after delivery for the best results.
Some methods to treat stretch marks include fractional laser, derma pen, Calcium Hydroxylapatite, and Radio Frequency Skin Resurfacing Treatments.
For those concerned about developing stretch marks, knowing of alternative routes to tackle the issue may provide some much needed relief.
Whatever the case, it’s important to embrace our bodies as they continue to grow and serve us while navigating through life. Stretch marks tell a story that is part and parcel of our journey on earth.
Whatever your thoughts may be, your feelings are definitely valid. At the end of the day, feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin is essential.
“If you’re content with your stretch marks, then you don’t have to get them fixed because they are harmless. If you do want to improve your stretch marks appearance, it is considered a cosmetic procedure that you can get done. It is all a matter of what would make you feel good in your skin.”
Dr. Fatema Abbas is a board certified dermatologist at Al Shefa Polyclinic in Doha, Qatar. You can find Dr. Fatema on instagram: @dr.fatema_abbas.
Chereen Shurafa is a Doha based community counsellor, writer, and certified change coach. She is the founder of “Dear Chereen”, an online platform dedicated to mindfulness, mental health, and inspiration.