Why are Some Women More Prone to Stretch Marks? (And How to Get Rid of Them)

Does it sometimes feel like all you have to do is look at a cookie and stretch marks form where you least want them? While you rub in the coconut oil, consider that one of the main reasons why you may be more prone to stretch marks is because your mother was. 

Here at Naples Medical Care, Weiping Sarah Mei, MD, and her team understand the battle that women often have to wage against stretch marks, which is why we’ve armed ourselves with the latest laser technology to fight back — the Icon™ 1540 laser by Cynosure®. For our patients who have post-pregnancy or post weight-loss stretch marks, or a genetic predisposition to stretch marks, we may have the answer.

But before we get into how our Icon system can help, let’s take a look at the problem: why some women are more prone to stretch marks than others.

Forming a line

Stretch marks form when your skin is stretched beyond its limits, either too quickly or for a prolonged period. Your skin’s ability to bounce back time and again is due to two important proteins — collagen and elastin.

Stretch marks happen when the skin is pulled by rapid growth or stretching.  Although the skin is usually fairly elastic, when it’s overstretched, the normal production and function of collagen (the major protein that makes up the connective tissue in our skin) and elastin (a protein enables our skin to stretch and bounce back) are disrupted. As a result, scars called stretch marks may form.

The road to stretch marks

First, if you’ve been pregnant, your chances of developing stretch marks are markedly higher since the skin on your abdomen was stretched in just nine shorts months to accommodate a growing baby.

The second culprit behind stretch marks is weight fluctuation. If your weight goes up and down along with your diet efforts, this repeated change can overtax your skin, pushing it beyond its breaking point. And if you’ve carried considerable weight for a long time and then get down to your ideal weight range, your skin may not readily follow your weight-loss efforts.

But neither of these causes explains why some women lose and gain weight with nary a stretch mark in sight while others are plagued with an aftermath of unsightly lines that travel across their skin. That’s where your genes come in.

Medical researchers are beginning to understand the influence that genetics has on your propensity to develop stretch marks, namely in women who carry mutations in their ELN, SRPX, HMCN1, and TMEM18 genes. In one study, researchers found that women with these mutations, particularly in their ELN (which is elastin), are 40% more likely to develop stretch marks.

While this may come as some relief, knowing that your stretch marks are beyond your control, it doesn’t help you in getting rid of them. 

Reducing the lines

With our Icon 1540 laser system, we can deliver short pulses of laser light, which travel beneath your skin to spur a mild healing response. This response comes in the form of renewed collagen and elastin production. But instead of the more traumatic response that led to your stretch marks in the first place, the energy signals your body to gently repair and rebuild the tissue, and lead to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. This leaves your skin looking smoother as newer, healthier skin cells begin to populate your treated area.

Most of our patients need three to five treatments, but since the treatments are noninvasive, you’re free to go on with your day directly after.  

If you lost the genetic lottery and you’re plagued by stretch marks, please give us a call to find out how we can help. Or use the online scheduling tool to book an appointment.

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