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Are Stretch Marks Scars?

By Danne Montague-King
Posted: August 13, 2009

More than half of all women have some sort of stretch mark problem in their lifetime and all hate it! Oddly enough, men seldom notice stretch marks on females—perhaps a throwback to the ‘Earth Mother” syndrome, where the male views stretch marks as a natural part of the female during pregnancy. Yet the paparazzi in Hollywood seem to take great delight in publishing photos of divas and pop princesses and their stretch marks, as if celebrities are supposed to be exempt.

Stretch marks, or striae as they are called medically, are simply scars that appear in the dermis, rather than on the epidermis, like conventional scarring from outside injuries. Most people are led to believe that stretch marks are caused by stretching the skin beyond its tensile strength, either from weight gain, pregnancy or extreme muscle-building.

Although all these things do play a role, there are hormonal aspects during puberty that can leave stretch marks on a very young girl’s body, even if she has no rapid weight gain or loss.

I believe there is an enzymatic power at play here, principally the enzyme collagenase that determines how many collagen fibers are in place to support tissue. If this enzyme is compromised by hormonal flux, it can destroy the very collagen fibers it is supposed to regulate. The skin then becomes ruptured, or broken down and weakened at that point and appears on the surface as a silvery or reddened scar. The stretching of skin plays more of a role in where the marks occur.