Strech Mark Therapy

Stretch Marks: Causes, Treatment, Prevention

Date Updated: 13.09.2021
5 min read

Stretch marks can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age or skin type. While pregnancy is a common cause of stretch marks for women, men are also prone to stretch marks caused by growth spurts during puberty, sudden weight gain or a quick increase in muscle mass during exercise.

Maybe your stretch marks don’t bother you or you don’t care about them, but you probably don’t want to let them tell your story. While your stretch marks will most likely never completely disappear, they usually fade with time, especially when properly cared for. The sooner you start caring for your stretch marks, the better the results.

So dive in and find out all you need to know to keep your story yours to tell!

  • They’re common during pregnancy but anyone of any age and gender can get them
  • They appear around areas where skin stretches too fast
  • Prevention is better than the cure
  • Scar care products can reduce the appearance…but they won’t go away for good.


  • What are stretch marks?
  • When do stretch marks appear?
  • What causes stretch marks?
  • Who gets stretch marks?
  • How do stretch marks age?
  • How can I prevent stretch marks?
  • How can I care for stretch marks?

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are rippled streaks, medically also called striae, which most commonly appear on the stomach, breasts, buttocks, thighs, and upper arms. Their appearance depends on the skin type and colour. On pale skin, stretch marks can appear red, pink, purplish-blue, or white. On darker skin, stretch marks usually appear whitish or darker than the surrounding skin.

When do stretch marks appear?

Stretch marks appear when the skin is stretched too fast for the underlying connective tissue to keep up with the body’s growth.

What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks appear when the skin is stretched too fast for the underlying connective tissue to keep up with the spurt. The connective tissue is the support structure that gives the skin its strength and elasticity. It is mainly composed of collagen bundles and elastic fibers. The collagen bundles are aligned parallel to the surface of the skin, tightly packed and bound together to provide strength, resilience, and support. During rapid stretching, the connections between bundles can rupture so that the bundles separate. The gap is then filled with newly produced collagen, causing a type of scar – the stretch mark.[1]

Who gets stretch marks?

Typically, people immediately think of pregnancy when they hear the phrase “stretch mark”. And yes, pregnancy is one of the most common causes for stretch marks, as the growing baby stretches the belly while hormone changes weaken the connective tissue. For this reason, up to 90% of women get stretch marks from pregnancy[2,3] .

How prone you are to getting stretch marks seems to be influenced by genetics and hormones[1,3].  Increased steroid levels due to medication, or certain diseases, such as Cushing’s, Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome might also weaken the connective tissue and increase the risk of stretch marks.

Do men get stretch marks?

Yes, over 25% of stretch mark sufferers are men (HRA internal). Several scenarios, such as growth spurts during puberty, sudden weight gain, or a quick increase in muscle mass can cause stretch marks on people.

How do stretch marks age?

The appearance of stretch marks depends on skin type and colour. On pale skin, fresh stretch marks usually appear as red or pink to purplish-blue streaks. Here the skin may appear very thin or slightly elevated and might be itchy. During this phase, inflammation might occur[1] . Over time, as the cleft in the connective tissue heals, they become more scar-like: thinner, paler, and rather indented.

New Stretch Marks
Old Stretch Marks

How can I prevent stretch marks?

The best way to reduce the risk of stretch marks, including during pregnancy, is to maintain a healthy weight and to keep your skin hydrated and supple. You can support this drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, rich in zinc and vitamins C and E to support skin regeneration[4], and through regular exercise to stay active and keep up your circulation.

You should additionally apply heavy moisturizers to directly support your skin’s hydration.

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Prevention of stretch marks during pregnancy

With a baby growing in your belly, gaining weight and girth is hardly avoidable. Therefore, stretch marks tend to develop during the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, caused by stretching of the connective tissue which is weakened by hormonal changes.

You can help prevent stretch marks appearing when pregnant by directly supporting the skin of your belly, buttocks, and breasts. Apply oils or creams containing soothing and softening ingredients, such as bitter almond oil, olive oil, shea butter or vitamin E oil several times per day. In case of use on the breasts, please make sure that there is no product on nipples before breastfeeding.

If you ask yourself if your stretch marks might ever go away, unfortunately the answer is no. Stretch marks do not usually completely disappear, and there is no product that will completely remove them. But don’t give up just yet! They do usually fade with time, especially when properly cared for. And the earlier you start, the better the result!

The best approach to stretch marks is prevention. Skin that is well hydrated and supple has more elasticity and can respond better to stresses which could cause stretch marks. But don’t lose hope if it’s too late for prevention: there are several options that can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. The most suitable stretch mark care may depend on the age of the stretch marks.

Other care options

Other forms of care for stretch marks are available, though these won’t get rid of them entirely. You can undergo light or laser treatments, or a treatment called microdermabrasion. This removes a thin layer of skin from affected areas, which can improve their appearance. These aren’t available on the NHS so you would need to pay for them privately[5].


Stretch marks can be a source of concern, particularly in their appearance and effects on your self-esteem. But they’re a perfectly natural part of life. Using the right skincare products can reduce their appearance and give you a boost.


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