Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Answers
By Dr Joe Kabyemela, MD
Pregnancy is (in most cases) greeted with a great deal of excitement. There is just so much to take in. Then, inevitably, worries start creeping in. One of those could be the subject of stretch marks. It would be churlish for anybody to consider this a vanity trip. It is a legitimate concern. So what are the facts about why these dreaded skin changes?
With pregnancy, the abdomen naturally distends. It is designed to do so and therefore can cope with the process comfortably over the 40 weeks or so for a human pregnancy. However, whilst the abdominal wall can cope with this, the overlying skin may not ‘give’ so easily. As a result of that, the elastic tissue within the inner (dermis) layer of the skin continually stretches and in some cases this gets beyond the breaking point and it starts to give way. The result is those lines (striae gravidarum) or, as we all call them; stretch marks. Stretch marks are therefore the visible evidence of broken skin supporting fibres. The process tends to start in late pregnancy. The stretch marks, when raw or newly broken tend to appear pink or dark red. They then heal with fibrous tissue (scar tissue) forming and the colour changes to off-white or silvery. These, like all forms of scars, are more or less permanent.