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Stretch Marks - Understanding the Role of Genetics and Weight Gain   


For the longest time there has been a misconception that stretch marks appear only on women who are expecting a child or who have already given birth. There is also the belief that stretch marks belong only to the exclusive domain of women, and that men in general don’t get the stretch marks.


With such a “macho” culture operating, people would be surprised to know that even the most macho male image and figure, the bodybuilder, suffers from stretch marks as much as pregnant women do. This is because stretch marks have nothing to do with being male or female. It occurs in both men and women. The most important factor when determining the existence or manifestation of stretch marks is not gender or sex, but weight gain.


You see, the human skin is inherently elastic. The inherent elasticity of the largest organ in the body is dictated by the presence of collagen, or the diminishing levels thereof. More collagen means a more elastic, more flexible skin more amenable to any kind of expansion or dimensional change. Less collagen means drier, more brittle skin that easily show ‘striae’ or stretch marks.


How Does One Get Stretch Marks?


Of course we have already mentioned the role of girth change and mass change in relation to the manifestation of stretch marks. But there are so many other factors involved that it’s hard to simply point at just one factor. Often it is a combination of at least two factors. Let’s try to discuss some of the major ones, so you can determine for yourself what made you have all those “badges of honor”.


1. Genetics - genetics plays a major role in the determination and eventual existence of stretch marks on the human skin. Having stretch marks is actually a recessive genetic trait, which means that it could have come either from your father or your mother. If your mother had them when she was carrying you and your siblings, then you can bet your last dime that you will have them as well. If your father gained a lot of weight in his younger year and he was formerly a slim person, then chances are his abdominal area has stretch marks.


If your father had stretch marks, and your mother didn’t you probably will still have stretch marks. A curse? Not really. The explanation behind this phenomenon is linked to the general distribution of collagen on the human skin.


2. Weight Gain - to simply put, if you have been at a steady 120 pounds for the last twenty years and you suddenly decided to gain a few kilograms more, then your stretch marks would probably appear because your skin has already been used to a particular mass for the longest time.


3. Growth Spurt - there is a difference between weight gain and growth spurts. If your kids start having stretch marks on their shoulders and back areas, then don’t worry. It’s the body’s natural reaction to the sudden increase in weight and height. The stretch marks will disappear in a few months, give or take a few weeks.