Striae, popularly known as stretch marks, occurs as a result of excessive stretching in the layer of the skin called the dermis. The skin becomes so thin that it can be seen with the naked eye, it weakens and takes the appearance of tears. The problematic part is easily separated from the healthy skin. While newly formed stretch marks create a purplish color darker than skin color; over time, its color becomes lighter and takes on a pale pearl color. The color of the stretch marks varies according to the structure of the person. Since stretch marks are frequently encountered in women during pregnancy, they are also called pregnancy marks. Although it does not disrupt the integrity of the skin, its treatment is a very curious condition because it disrupts the aesthetic appearance.
WHAT ARE STRETCH MARKS ?
Cracks on the skin surface, which are defined as stria in the medical language, are deformations caused by excessive stretching of the dermis layer of the skin. Body cracks, which can be easily seen even when viewed with the naked eye, occur as a result of thinning, weakening and tearing of the skin. Although the cracks on the skin surface appear red-purple when they first appear, they become white over time. Cracks that occur between red and purple are defined as striae rubra. These deformations, which become discolored over time and defined as white cracks, are stria alba.
Stretch marks, which differ from skin color, are mostly a pale color. When body cracks first occur, some changes occur in the surrounding tissues. In the first stage, it is known that the superficial vessels expand and the number of lymph cells in the region increases. Later, the collagen fibers in the skin decrease and the epidermis layer becomes thinner. The color of skin cracks, which can make the person feel bad from an aesthetic point of view, even though it does not disrupt the integrity of the skin, varies according to the skin color of the person. However, the contrast created where the cracks occur is easily visible to the naked eye. These deformations are also known as pregnancy cracks, as skin cracks are frequently seen during pregnancy, the period when women gain weight and expand naturally.
STRETCH MARKS SYMPTOMS
The color, appearance and location of the cracks that are new on the body vary. Although it occurs in all anatomical regions, it is usually seen on the breasts, abdomen, hips and legs, inside the arm, and back. Hormones are known to be effective in crack formation. Therefore, the incidence of cracks in different areas increases in men and women. In women, cracks are seen mostly in the chest area after the hip and leg area; In men, cracks are seen on the arms, lower back and hips. The time of sighting usually coincides with puberty. Cracks that occur during pregnancy are called striae gravidarum, and there are intense cracks specifically in the abdomen. They do not give any other symptoms other than the appearance of cracks. However, in some dense and large cracks, itching, wounds and so on. may occur.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF STRETCH MARKS?
The outermost surface of the skin is called the epidermis, the middle part is called the dermis and the inner part is called the hypodermis. The dermis, which is the middle part of the skin, contains elastin and collagen fibers. This structure affects the healthy appearance of the skin. Weakening or breaking of the bonds between the fibers in the dermis cause deformation in the visible part of the skin. This deformation, which is far from aesthetic appearance, can also be defined as a skin crack.
Although stretch marks in the body occur due to many different reasons, the most common cause is pregnancy. In addition to the weight gained during pregnancy and the edema that occurs, the growth in the abdomen and breasts can also cause the skin to stretch and crack as a result. The cracks formed during this period are defined as striae gravidarum.
In addition to pregnancy, skin cracks can also occur in activities such as gaining and losing excess weight and bodybuilding that cause sudden increase in muscle mass. The probability of skin cracking increases by about 40% in people with obesity problems.
The development of muscle structure during adolescence, gaining or losing excessive weight can also lead to the formation of skin cracks during adolescence.
One of the factors that cause skin cracks is hormonal changes in the body.
In addition to all these, some drugs used can also cause body cracks. Cortisone, which is especially used in the treatment of some diseases, can cause the destruction of elastin and collagen fibers.
Skin cracks can sometimes occur for no reason. This type of body fissure is defined as idiopathic fissure. Body stretch marks can occur in almost any part of the body. However, it mostly occurs on the breast, abdomen, back, hips, legs and inner parts of the upper arm. It is common on the hips, legs and breasts in women, and on the arms, waist and hips in men. Body stretch marks are more likely to occur during puberty and pregnancy.
HOW IS STRETCH MARK DIAGNOSED?
There are two types of skin cracks. When they first occur, they are observed as a more red-violet color compared to the skin tone. This type is called striae rubra. As time passes, it gets the name of stria alba as a result of its color fading. Some changes occur in the surrounding tissues during the first formation of cracks. In the first stage, it was determined that the superficial vein enlarged and lymph cells increased in this region. In the later stages, a decrease in collagen fibers is observed, and the epidermis is thinned.
Clinically, striae are defined in 4 stages. Stage I refers to the newly formed skin crack. In stage II, the color of the crack turned white. There is no collapse or opening around the striae. However, in the later stage of Stage II, depression is seen on palpation. In stage III, there is an opening in the striae and streaking can be seen on the skin. In stage IV, there is a distinctive crack appearance.
In the treatment of skin cracks, it is important to know the clinical stages, as the intensity and type of treatment are usually determined according to the stages of the cracks.
HOW IS STRETCH MARK TREATED?
With the developing technology, there are improvements in the methods used in the treatment of cracks every day. However, people who want to start the treatment of skin cracks should not forget that the area where the crack is seen will not be fully restored. At this point, it can be said that the treatment methods applied aim to reduce the depth of the cracks and help the skin return to its old color. The main methods used in the treatment of stretch marks are as follows:
One of the most effective methods used in the treatment of cracks is the fractional laser method. In this application, laser lights are provided to reach under the skin and to the area where the cracks are. Thanks to these laser beams, healthy tissues that produce collagen, which are necessary to heal the cracked area, are stimulated. Thus, the production of collagen tissue, which was slowed down and decreased before, increases and this ensures visible improvements in the skin. This method, in which damaged tissues are treated by stimulating healthy tissues, is used not only for skin cracks, but also for skin tightening, skin rejuvenation and removal of surgery/scars. However, it should be kept in mind that fractional laser application should only be performed by experts in this field. Incorrectly applied laser treatment can cause bigger problems on the skin.
Another method that has been seen to be as effective as the fractional laser method and has been frequently used in recent years is the radiofrequency application. In this method, radiofrequency waves are given to the area where crack formation is seen through the needles on the radiofrequency device. As with the fractional laser application, the purpose of this treatment method is to stimulate collagen-containing tissues and to regenerate these tissues. The number of sessions the application will take may vary depending on the depth and intensity of the crack.
As a result of hundreds of micro-sized needles on the dermaroller device used in dermatherapy treatment, many channels are formed on the skin as a result of passing over the cracks. In order for this treatment method to be effective, stem cell extracts are applied to the skin. In this way, collagen tissue is renewed and cracks are largely eliminated.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
In the PRP method, which is also used in other skin problems besides crack treatment, blood is taken from the person first. Afterwards, this blood sample is separated and injected into the area where the crack is. In the PRP application supported by the fractional laser method, cell regeneration is achieved faster.
Medicines and Creams
Creams containing vitamin C and increasing collagen production are used to support the treatment of cracks. Medicines and creams used as a supportive method often provide more effective results when used with other treatment methods.
CAN STRETCH MARK FORMATION BE PREVENTED?
Damage to elastin and collagen fibers due to excessive tension in the skin and cracks formed by tears in the lower layers of the skin disturb the person aesthetically. Although the formation of cracks in the body cannot be completely prevented, reducing the risk factors that lead to the formation of skin cracks can help prevent the formation of skin cracks. As in all parts of the body, some of the risk factors that lead to the formation of cracks in the hip or leg can be listed as follows:
Not keeping body weight under control: Gaining excess weight is one of the important factors that lead to the formation of cracks in the body. The increase in glucocorticoid hormone, especially in obese individuals, can lead to crack formation. In order to keep this hormone, which increases during puberty and pregnancy, to stay in balance, being protected from sudden weight increases and decreases can help prevent the formation of cracks in the body.
Exercising excessively: Types of exercise that cause excessive development of the muscles in a particular area can lead to the formation of stretch marks. Bodybuilders and weight lifters, in particular, should avoid rapidly building muscle mass. In order to prevent this factor, which poses a risk for the formation of stretch marks in men, the duration of exercise should be shortened and the muscle building process should be spread over time. It may be advisable to avoid heavy lifting and the use of steroids for muscle growth.
Birth control pills: Birth control pills can cause stretch marks in some people. If crack formation is observed in the body after the use of birth control medication, the physician should be consulted.
Hormonal disorders: In addition to sudden hormonal changes during pregnancy and adolescence, disorders in the endocrine system and diseases that affect the hormonal balance of the person can also cause body cracks. To prevent such situations and to protect both health and aesthetic appearance, it may be recommended to have regular health checks.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Does the problem of stretch marks also occur in men?
Although it is thought that the problem of stretch marks affects only women, this is not true. In many men, cracks may occur during puberty due to rapid growth and hormonal factors. In overweight men, stretch marks may occur due to excessive stretching of the skin and increased glucocorticoid hormone in the body.
Although I used cream, I could not see any benefit. What is the reason of this
Unfortunately, although there are oils and creams that are claimed to prevent cracks and heal existing cracks, they do not work. The reason for this is that creams and serums can affect the upper layers of the skin, but not the lower layers. Cracks are formed in the deep layers of the skin and the products applied to the skin cannot reach these layers.
In Which Areas Do Skin Cracks Occur Most?
Those who have laser crack treatment and those who want to have it usually have stretch marks in their abdomen and breasts. Cracks due to physical properties; It can be seen in many places such as hips, butt, thighs, inner arm areas, knee circumference, thigh area.
Which Laser Systems are Used in the Treatment of Skin Cracks?
Successful results can be obtained in the removal of stretch marks by performing radiofrequency applications, light and laser applications. Fractional laser is the method generally used for treatment. 5-6 sessions can be applied.
Is crack treatment with laser painful ?
In the treatment of cracks with laser, some pain may occur due to burning. If we give a clearer answer to the question of whether the treatment of cracks with laser is painful, in this treatment, as in almost every treatment with laser, laser scanning is performed with auxiliary apparatus blowing cold air. Thus, the pain felt during the treatment is somewhat reduced. However, for those who think that they cannot stand the pain, the option of local anesthesia is also offered.