Stretch marks, also known as striae, are fine lines on the body that occur from tissue under your skin tearing from rapid growth or over-stretching. It is a common condition that does not cause any significant medical problems but can be of cosmetic concern. Other names for stretch marks are striae distensae, striae atrophicans, striae rubra (which are red) and striae alba (which are white). Stretch marks are very common, affecting 70% of adolescent girls and 40% of young men. They occur in certain areas of the body where skin is subjected to continuous and progressive stretching, such as the abdomen, breasts, thighs, buttocks, and shoulders. Stretch marks can also occur from prolonged use of topical or oral steroids.
Stretch marks usually are only a cosmetic problem. Stretch marks occurring in adolescents become less visible over time and generally require no treatment. In other cases, if stretch marks are a cause of concern then treatments such as topical retinoids, chemical peels, and certain lasers may be used, however most treatments have disappointing results.