Ah, stretch marks. We've all seen them (either on our own skin or on Chrissy Teigen's social media accounts), but it's not always clear where they come from. So what exactly are stretch marks, and why do they happen?
“When a person grows or gains weight rapidly, like during puberty, that person may get fine lines on the body called stretch marks," says plastic and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Levine. "Stretch marks happen when the skin is pulled by rapid growth or stretching." They also often pop up during or after pregnancy (because, ya know, your entire body stretches when you're trying to grow a human inside of it) and are exacerbated by a lack of moisture in the skin. Because of this, some women swear by hydrating and moisturizing as a means of avoiding them, but there's only so many preventative measures you can take against nature.
Even though you may not like the way they look, stretch marks really are NBD and everyone has them. "The majority of stretch marks are not related to any other conditions and are only cosmetic concerns," says Dr. Jennifer Chwalek. "They can develop in association with a few syndromes, like Cushings syndrome, however patients usually have other symptoms or a family history of these conditions."
For me, stretch marks have always been a source of pride. They popped up on my thighs my junior year of high school while I was recovering from an eating disorder, and were a clear indication that I was gaining weight and getting better. I actually didn't even know they were something I was supposed to be ashamed of until I went to college and heard my friends complaining about their own stretch marks.
Thanks in large part to Chrissy Teigen and other celebrities' openness on social media about their own stretch marks, our attitude towards them has recently started to shift in the right direction. Teigen has Tweeted and Instagrammed multiple pictures of her adorably nicknamed "stretchies," and has helped all of us regular people remember that stretch marks are really NO. BIG. DEAL. They happen to everyone — even supermodels — and are not nearly as noticeable as we tend to think they are.
If stretch marks are something that concerns you (and that's OK too!), there are a few things you can do to prevent them or treat them once they've showed up.
Miranda Kerr swears by Rosehip oil, which helped her avoid "stretchies" during her pregnancy with a 10(!) pound baby.
For an over the counter solution, Dr. Levine recommends Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy, which is formulated to lock in moisture and helps to prevent stretch marks.
If your stretch marks have already formed and you're serious about treating them, Dr. Levine recommends the Ellipse FRAX 1550, which is a new non-ablative fractionated laser and requires multiple treatments.
Or, you can always do what Chrissy Teigen and I do and embrace them, because why the hell not?