Written for Stretchmarks1 by Allison Walker-Elders
When it comes to removing unsightly skin blemishes, laser therapy is one of the most promising and effective treatments. Many women, as the demographic typically considered in cosmetic medical procedures, can attest to its positive results. However, stretch marks (like most skin ailments) are gender-blind. Men can also be affected by striae. Now, as laser treatments become more popular, it’s becoming commonplace for both men and women to remove stretch marks.
A classic example of stretch marks on men is that of body-builders. Rapid muscle growth causes the skin to strain. At first, the striae are subtle. But as the athlete continues training, the striae often increase in length and intensity. Weight-lifters often see stretch marks extend across their chest and down their biceps, visible even when fully-clothed. Runners often note striae on their thighs. Even ballet dancers experience these blemishes, especially male ballet dancers—bulky leg muscles cause the skin to expand and change rapidly.
Common Causes of Striae
- Muscle growth
- Growth spurts
- Weight gain
An interesting aspect of this trend is that stretch marks on men are more apparent in day-to-day life. When women have stretch marks after pregnancy, they appear along their breasts, belly, and inner thigh—areas that are not usually exposed to the public. Striae like these can be hidden easily by clothes. However, athletes (both male and female) who have stretch marks on their arms or legs are at a loss. Unless they want to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts for the rest of their lives, they need to either be comfortable with their skin or find a way to rejuvenate it.
“It’s kind of bizarre,” says Kelly*, an athlete with striae. “I guess there isn’t a ‘type’ of person who gets stretch marks.” This is absolutely true—Kelly, a petite teenage ballet dancer, has the slender and streamlined body typical of her profession. However, since she was fourteen, she has had vivid white stretch marks along her thighs. This age correlates to her acceptance into a pre-professional ballet company, when she danced for hours every day. Her body became muscular, but her skin strained.Kelly is not yet ready to consider surgical options for removal, but many others take advantage of this option.
Another common way stretch marks affect many individuals is during and after growth spurts. Teenage boys are especially prone to this type of stretch mark. Since males experience rapid growth between the ages of 15 and 25, stretch marks often appear on their legs, hips, and ribs. The body grows at a rate disproportionate to the skin’s expansion. Like athletic stretch marks, these striae are more visible and more difficult to disguise with clothing.
Stretch marks affect many different types of people. It is commonplace to see men who have striae. As cosmetic medical procedures increase in practice, more men may take the time to treat their stretch marks with laser treatment. No one should ever be ashamed of his or her body, and no one should ever be afraid to take control of his or her body, either.
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Photo: Jay Hem
*name changed for confidentiality