OAKLAND, Calif. — For many women, they’re the red, white or sometimes brown badges of bearing children.
But while pregnant women are the group with whom we most frequently associate stretch marks, a larger percentage of the population is not immune. Weight gain can bring on stretch marks, too — men and women alike can end up with unsightly reminders of heavier days. Even people who went through sudden extreme growth spurts during adolescence often have marks around their joints or on their backs. And bodybuilders sometimes get them on the upper chest and shoulders.
Sometimes. That’s part of the frustration — and the mystery. Some people get them, and some people don’t, even under similar conditions. Whatever the cause, the main sticking point is they never really go away, and certainly not on their own. The topic — especially for women — is a delicate one, akin to discussing personal finances or facelifts. For some, the problem is more than skin deep.
Anne Nguyen, 32, a San Jose, Calif., accountant, says she felt like “damaged goods” when pronounced stretch marks appeared after she had her first two children.