Sports Illustrated model loves her stretch marks - and so should you

What is it about these little scars that carries so much power?

I typed ‘how stretchmarks’ into Google search. These are the first four auto-completes:
  • How to get rid of stretch marks 
  • How to remove stretch marks 
  • How to prevent stretch marks
  • How to avoid stretch marks

So much negativity.
Do women actually hate them?

We spoke to local dermatologist, Dr. Nomphelo Gantsho, who says that many people come for a consultation to remove their stretch marks because they feel distressed and negative about the way their skin looks.

Having stretch marks decreases a lot of people's self-esteem as magazines show models sans stretch marks. But, most pictures have been Photoshopped to smooth out such areas.


Teigen (above) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 50th anniversary edition.

Just last week, former Sports Illustrated model Chrissy Teigen tweeted a picture of her strech-marked thighs – making headlines and body-positive friends everywhere.

To me the caption encapsulated a shift. “Whatevs”. Now, this from a woman who makes (most) of her money from modelling. She also proudly posted about her stretchies in 2015 on IG.
According to Dr. Nomphelo Gantsho, people that feel most negative about their stretch marks are teenagers (who mostly experience it on their legs, hips and the buttocks) and young mothers (stomach and the thighs - after delivery), because they don't feel sexy anymore.
The teenagers are embarrassed to wear the short skirts that other teenagers are wearing or short (cropped) tops.

“Stretch marks happen when your body grows faster than your skin can keep up with. This causes the elastic fibers just under the surface of the skin to break, resulting in stretch marks,” says Dr. Nomphelo Gantsho.
So these are marks of growth - battle scars if you will. They signify pregnancy, growth and rapid weight fluctuation. Shouldn't we begin to accept it as the soft patterns and symbols of growth, rather than something which deems us inadequate?
Shouldn't we stop measuring ourselves against a standard which Teigen proves is a faux reality?

There are a few available treatments - but they all come with their problems: 

The severity of stretch marks can be affected by genetics, the level of stress on the skin as well as your cortisone levels. Cortisone — a hormone produced by the adrenal glands — weakens elastic fibers in the skin. Medications like coritcosteriods used over a long periods can result in stretch marks.
Because it is a cosmetic problem and no treatment has been scientifically proven to be truly successful, some might help to fade your stretch marks although it won't completely remove them.
You can try: 
•        Retinoid cream (derived from vitamin A) This may improve the appearance of stretch marks less than a few months old. Retinoid, when it works, helps to rebuild collagen, making the stretch marks look more like your normal skin.
Problem: Retinoid can irritate your skin.
               Contra-indicated in pregnancy.
    •    Laser therapies (excimer laser and pulsed dye laser) A variety of light and laser therapies are available to help stimulate the growth of collagen or elastin in your skin.
Problem: Very expensive and may show poor results after spending a lot of money.
    •    Needling This type of treatment involves a hand-held device with needles that causes trauma to the skin, promoting the growth of new, collagen and elastin on the skin.
Problem: The procedure can be painful and uncomfortable and efficacy not guaranteed. 
    •    Microdermabrasion This type of treatment involves a hand-held device that blows crystals onto skin. These crystals gently remove a fine layer of skin, promoting the growth of new, more-elastic skin.
Problem: Can be painful and might cause scarring.   
Dr. Nomphelo Gantsho also suggests applying self-tanning lotion to your stretch marks as a temporary way to minimise the difference in colour between your normal skin and your stretch marks.
We think instead of spending so much money and effort into erasing these scars, accepting them would be a better course in the long run. Don't you think?
To contact Dr. Nomphelo Gantsho
Dermatologist FC Derm (SA)
Century Medical Suites
1st Floor, Suite No. 4
4 Park Lane, Central Park
Tel: (021) 250 0211
Fax: 086 611 9314
Email: [email protected]