What are Stretch Marks?
Stretch Marks Info
First let’s take a look at their location.
Just like the heart and the lungs and the stomach, the skin is by definition an organ. Of all of the organs in mammals, the skin is by far the largest. This is why people with deep, massive burns are often not expected to live.
A bodily organ is a collection of tissues that are structurally joined for a purpose. The skin is a marvelous model of indispensable function.
The skin keeps harmful germs from invading, while preventing vital fluids from escaping. It maintains a superfluous blood supply for the goal of heat regulation. Depending on whether the atmosphere is getting too hot or too cold, the skin dilates its blood vessels to prevent overheating of the body, or else it economically constricts the blood vessels, in order to keep the heat in.
Last but not least, the skin is an alarmist, startling and at times even traumatizing, causing a severe recognition of the numerous dangers in our world; think of those plentiful nerve endings.
An organ with that many life-guarding functions needs a network of complex and multiple tissues. The skin is made of the epidermis, which is the porous outer layer we see, and directly beneath that the dermis, which is also visible when stressed, and below that the hypodermis.
Stretch marks occur in the dermis.
Think of a rubber band stretched too far
The worst of cosmetic nightmares is scarring, and stretch marks are scars much too easy to come by. They are tears in the dermis, the flexible middle stratum that maintains the shape of the skin. The tearing is caused by the pulling that occurs with accelerated growth. The rapid transformations of puberty or pregnancy are common aggravators. So are weight gain, muscle-building, and the uses of certain steroids.
Up to 90% of women develop stretch marks from their pregnancies. This is why the otherwise harmless condition creates such a widespread unhappiness. It’s only surpassed by the suffering of socially agonized acne victims.
Striae is the dermatological term for this particular scarring. A familiar derivation is striated. It generally refers to collections of narrow, somewhat parallel lines. The veins in a leaf are striations, and are considered rather lovely to look at. Not so with skin striations. At first they are reddish or purple. Over time, these vivid colors do lighten, but without a deep abrasion procedure, or a surgical removal of the entire site of the skin that’s been affected, the marks, however faded, will remain.
The striae most commonly inches along where the body harbors its fat: the lower abdomen, breasts, the upper arms and underarms, and the thighs, hips, and buttocks. The collagen and elastin fibers that normally keep the skin taut have been overcome by stretching. Just like a once-serviceable rubber band that’s been extended way too much, skin pulled too far and too fast will start slitting, and become flecked with little furrows from the tears. Depending on the location and the severity of the stretch, sometimes even worse signs of damage can develop: the skin gets all droopy and flaccid.
The only sure avoidance of stretch mark is to self-destruct at eleven (and only if you’re slim and prepubescent at eleven)
If we wanted to pick just one facet of the body to admire for its complex set of functions, skin would be high on the list. We’d also have to class it quite prominently, however, as a great source of worry for our looks. If we stretch out our lungs from exertion, or mildly bruise our brains from a fall, no one is likely to notice. But our hide is our obvious life map, our tattler of much that we do, and stretch marks will make their appearance forever, just as surely as babies will be born with perfect skin.