In Miami, the land of the "Beautiful People" - where sun and sand mean that skin is always exposed, Dr. Andrea Trowers, Board Certified Dermatologist based in North Miami Beach, helps enhance all of her client's beauty.
Dr. Trowers exclusively addresses many of your biggest skin care questions in our ongoing series of columns. Her latest column is on the topic of stretch marks, which is one we often get reader questions about. Now you can find out what they actually are - and what really can be done about them. - RLB
Stretch marks (their technical term is striae) are actually linear scars. They are caused by stretching of the skin and this stress results in thinning of the epidermis and parallel arrays of collagen bundles. They commonly occur on the abdomen during pregnancy, the breasts, shoulders and thighs during growth spurts of puberty and are one sign of oral steroid abuse. In rare cases they can also be an indication of cortisol overproduction in Cushing’s syndrome. Striae are a known side effect of topical steroids. So make sure that you don’t use prescription skin creams for longer than directed.
Initially stretch marks can be raised, red and tender. Over time they become flat, red and their surface may be finely wrinkled. After several years they fade, but may leave a resulting color change (lighter or darker than the surrounding skin).
Retinoid creams, such as retin a and tazorac, build up collagen and if used correctly can dramatically improve the appearance of stretch marks. However don’t glob it on or you will just end up with an irritating rash. It is also important to know that it takes time for the effect of the medication to be seen, several months at least. Also certain lasers can help the redness of stretch marks to resolve quicker. However, remember that the redness resolves on its own over time, even without treatment. Bleaching creams can lighten up stretch marks that are dark and lightening the skin around light stretch marks can make them less obvious. - Dr. Andrea Trowers
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Office contact info: 10800 Biscayne Boulevard Suite #650 Miami, FL 33161