Are Stretch Marks Scars? 7 Things You Need to Know

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One thing our readers always ask us is: are stretch marks scars? There seems to be quite a bit of debate going around this subject, so we’ve set out to assuage your doubts and help you better understand your body.

In this article, we’ll talk both about the differences and the similarities between stretch marks and what people commonly refer to as ‘scars’, as well as possible treatments. So, let’s have a look at some of the most interesting facts about stretch marks and scars.

1. Stretch Marks and Scars Don’t Appear in The Same Place

The main difference between stretch marks and scars is their location.

Regular scars, the kind you get from a deep cut or from falling as a kid or even surgery, form on the epidermis.

The epidermis is the top-most layer of your skin. So obviously, when you cut your skin, you get a scar, and that scar exists on the top-most level.

Now, stretch marks are a little different. They don’t occur after a cut or a lesion to your actual skin, but instead, they’re a minute tear inside of it.

So instead of forming on the exterior, stretch marks appear on the dermis (the middle layer of your skin).

Sometimes, this will cause your stretch marks to look a little more indented than your average scar, but not always.

2. They Are Caused by Different Things

Scars, as we mentioned earlier, are caused by getting hurt. They don’t come from your inside, while stretch marks do.

So, if you fell down and grazed your knee or had a surgery or something that pierced your skin, then what you have now is a scar.

If you’ve recently gone through puberty and suffered growth spurts, or pregnancy or have taken up an extreme diet or are bodybuilding, then you’re much more likely to get stretch marks. These appear as your skin struggles to accommodate your rapid weight change and are not caused by external factors.

3. Stretch Marks and Scars Will Both Go from A Deep Color to A Faded White

While there are some differences between the two, there are also quite a few similarities.

For a scar, as your injured skin heals and new cells are formed, it will appear red or pink and feel tender and eventually fade into a white skin patch.

This is also true for stretch marks, although, of course, with stretch marks, you won’t go through the same healing process, since there won’t be anything external to heal.

4. Stretch Marks and Scars Respond to Similar Treatments

This is particularly true for stretch marks and atrophic scars, which refers to the indented scarring that commonly appears on your face, as a result of acne. Now, both stretch marks and atrophic scars fade considerably over time and without a particular treatment, but they remain visible.

Studies have shown that atrophic scars respond to much the same treatments that work for stretch marks, such as laser therapy, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.

5. Why Do My Stretch Marks Look Like Scars?

Because they are scars, technically. While they form on different layers and are caused by different things, stretch marks (also referred to as striae, in the medical community) are recognized as a type of scar. They are a segment of your skin that has been stretched more than it can bear and for which healing is challenging.

So, this is the reason why many people see stretch marks and scars as one and the same thing, even though there are some key differences.

6. Does Stretch Marks Cream Work on Scars Or Vice Versa?

Yes, they work interchangeably, though we would encourage you to purchase a cream targeted at your specific issue. So, if you have a surgery scar that you want to remove, for example, you should look for a product that says it can do that.

But most of these skincare products are designed both for scar and stretch mark removal, so you should easily find one that does both. This is because scars and stretch marks both need the same ingredients (collagen, vitamins, Aloe, and other potent emollients) to improve appearance.

Now, these topical creams can be somewhat efficient, but bear in mind that you can’t expect miracles. At best, a topical can significantly reduce the appearance of your stretch mark, but not make it disappear completely.

Types of Scars

7. What Kind of Scars Are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks don’t fall into any broader scar category, but rather have their own scar type. Yeah, they’re that big. Most commonly, stretch marks resemble atrophic scars in that they are indented into the skin.

However, it is also possible to get raised stretch marks (though far less common), but whatever shape your stretch marks take, it’s important to remember that they’re all caused by the same reason, and thus respond to the same treatment.

Naturally, different practitioners will have different opinions. While some might tell you your stretch mark is basically an atrophic scar, others might disagree. In any case, it’s not a health issue as such, and so we encourage you to focus on treatment rather than the name.

So, to recap, stretch marks are and aren’t the same things as scars. We hope this article has helped give you a clearer understanding of what causes your stretch marks, how they differ from your scars, and what you can do about either of them.