Stretch Marks: The Collagen Connection
Research has shown that the formation of stretch marks begins with a breakdown and stretching of collagen located beneath the top layer of skin. Collagen and elastin both are found in your dermis, the second layer of skin. Collagen is a structural protein that plays a major part in supporting your cells, tissues, organs and even your bone structure.
Damage to collagen formation contributes to stretch marks
Collagen makes up about 75 percent of healthy skin so when collagen fibers get damaged or production of collagen decrease, major differences in your skin's health are noticeable. Some of these health differences consist of wrinkles, fine lines, and older looking skin. Another major health difference due to a disruption of collagen is the formation of stretch marks. When a person gain weight or loses weight quickly, the natural order of collagen fibers is disrupted. The fibers are stretched, and we see what we know as stretch marks.
During pregnancy, hormones soften the collagen in the ligaments around your abdomen thus preparing the body for the birth of a baby. Unfortunately, these same hormones also weaken skin collagen which leads to stretch marks as the body grows to accommodate your baby. It's no wonder that over 75 percent of pregnant women get stretch marks as their body plays host to a growing baby.
Besides physical damage such as an injury or stretching of the skin through weight gain, there are other factors that may contribute to the breakdown of healthy collagen. These factors may also cause collagen production to decrease. Exposure to sunlight, especially UVA and UVB radiation causes a great deal of damage to the collagen in your skin. People that spend large amounts of time in the sun with no little or no sunscreen or other protection tend to show aging ski much sooner that those people who protect their skin with clothing and sunscreen.
Free radical damage from pollution and other means can also damage the healthy collagen in your skin thus causing premature aging and a greater chance of developing stretch marks and wrinkles. Making sure you get enough antioxidants through diet and supplementation, if needed, is one way to prevent free radical damage to your skin.
In addition to maintaining the healthy collagen levels you have, you also want to promote new collagen synthesis, especially if you are developing or already have stretch marks. Make sure you are getting your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a major part in collagen synthesis and is also a powerful antioxidant. It is best to get your recommended daily allowance from food items, but supplementation is fine to help you meet some of your daily levels.
Collagen production can also be stimulated if you remove the dead skin cells o the surface of your skin. This encourages new skin cell growth. Exfoliation with alpha-hydroxy and poly-hydroxy acids is one of the best at home ways to clear dead skin out of the way.
Doctors can also prescribe creams that trigger collagen synthesis in your skin, but these creams can be quite costly. They can also require a great deal of dedication in applying them.
All being said, collagen is a very important part f your healthy skin. Keeping your collagen levels healthy and promoting normal collagen syntheses should be a par of your normal skin care routine. A little preventative care on your part as well as a balanced diet can keep your skin looking young and healthy as well as help you prevent stretch marks from forming.
Disclaimer: The information provided within this site is not meant to be a substitute for a medical doctor's opinion. This site is for informational purposes ONLY. Please check with your medical practitioner before any type of treatment or prevention method is started.
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