Don’t Let Stretch Marks Sabotage Your Self Esteem

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Stretch marks can be unavoidable at times, due to growth spurts or rapid weight gain caused by pregnancy or medical issues. Learn the best way to cope with these scars and tips for helping prevent them in the future.

Stretch marks occur when the skin is pulled too thin, causing lines—usually first appearing as red lines that detail the blood vessels underneath—to develop. Although stretch marks may fade with time, they do not completely disappear.

Pregnancy is one of the most common causes of stretch marks, since women tend to quickly gain weight during this time frame. Stretch marks can also occur with other body changes, such as growth spurts during puberty. Men and women may also develop stretch marks if they lift heavy weights, rapidly increasing muscle mass.

Regardless of how or why stretch marks develop, they are scars, and some women find they cause emotional distress. Any physical change to your body can be painful to accept at first and may lead to lower levels of confidence.

Overcoming Barriers to Body Image

People develop opinions about their bodies through a combination of choice and the influence of others. Since cultural perceptions of beauty may be unrealistic or distorted—like believing skin must be flawless and without any blemishes—people often need to create a personal filter to sort through the many messages they see, hear and digest. Not all messages need to be filed away in our brains; some can be discarded, as they are not helpful or encouraging. Here are some tools to help you create a positive body image:

  • Take time to write down or think through certain things you like about your body. To get started, ask others around you what they like best about your appearance.
  • Talk with trusted counsel about how you see yourself—what you like and do not like—and be honest. If you think something, say it.
  • After voicing your thoughts and making them clear, figure out which thoughts empower you and which distract you from feeling the way you want to feel.
  • Take up hobbies that help you stay mindful of who you are, like yoga, which teaches acceptance.

Much like staying physically fit or eating a healthy diet, maintaining a positive body image is also something that you will have to work at continually for the rest of your life.

Take Action

Follow these tips to avoid stretch marks in the future: Manage your weight and keep your skin moisturized and hydrated.

For existing stretch marks, speak with your doctor about any procedures or products that could benefit you. Some options include:

  • Laser therapy is a costly solution that could help reduce the appearance of stretch marks in their earlier stages, or soon after they form along your skin.

  • Plastic surgery could help if stretch marks appear along loose skin.

Other options could include creams or peels or topical therapies.

Did You Know?

> Doctors do not agree on a standard solution for treating stretch marks; you may want to get many opinions before finalizing your decision.

> Stretch marks may be caused by certain medications involving steroids.

> Thighs and hips are common places for stretch marks to appear.

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