What Causes Stretch Marks?

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  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2019
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The loss of skin's elastin and collagen is responsible for causing stretch marks. This loss can occur due to hormonal changes caused by such things as prolonged steroid use or Cushing's syndrome. Perhaps the most common reason these marks form, however, is because the skin is stretched more than normal, leading to a breakdown of the tissue fibers. When this happens, a stretch mark develops and can be seen in the top layer of the skin.

Often, individuals are surprised to learn that stretch marks are actually a type of scarring. When the skin is overstretched and collagen production is disrupted, a type of scar forms. Initially, they appear as lines that have a red or purple coloring, but after a while, the color changes, ending in a light, faded look.

Rapid growth frequently causes stretch marks. If an individual gains weight rapidly, he or she may develop them. After losing weight, the skin is no longer overstretched and the marks may become less obvious, but like all scars, they do not disappear completely.

Pregnant women can also develop stretch marks due to the rapid increase in weight and girth that a woman undergoes during pregnancy. Even if a woman's size doesn’t increase enough to overstretch her skin, she can develop the marks due to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. If neither the physical nor hormonal causes are present, a woman may survive a pregnancy stretch mark free.


Pregnant women are not the only people who get these marks. Anyone who experiences weight fluctuations may develop them, and individuals struggling with obesity are also prone to this scarring. Teens may develop them as the result of growth spurts, and bodybuilders may get from them as well when increasing muscle mass.

Although stretch marks can develop on any part of the body, they are most common in areas that have the most stored fat and are the most likely to stretch. These areas include the abdomen, breasts, and buttocks. They are also common on both the inner and outer thighs, as well as the upper arms and the underarms.

Most people find the marks to be aesthetically unpleasant, especially on their own bodies. They do not pose a health risk, however. The scars typically have a soft texture and a slightly empty appearance.

Many individuals have tried creams, lotions, and other products intended to prevent stretch marks. Most health care professionals agree that moisturizing lotions and creams cannot hurt, but, unfortunately, are unlikely to help. Some cosmetic treatments, such as microdermabrasion, may be helpful in improving their appearance. Tretinoin cream, commonly known as Retin-A, may also be helpful in making them less noticeable.


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Post 12

I think there are a lot of doctors that have been asked the question, "Can I get rid of stretch marks?" If anybody has found something that really works I would love to know about it. I hate to think about the amount of money I have spent trying to find something that will get rid of my stretch marks.

Post 11

If stretch marks are a form of scarring, that helps explain why mine are so ugly looking. My body doesn't heal very well and I am left with scars that are raised, red and ugly. My stretch marks have faded some over time. Even though they aren't considered a health issue, they really bother me.

I tried one $50 cream that my friend said was the best stretch mark cream she had ever used. I applied it faithfully for about 3 months and never saw a difference. I think the passing of time was more effective than using an expensive cream.

Post 10

Like many women, I never had stretch marks until I got pregnant. I didn't gain excess weight with any of my pregnancies, but still have stretch marks on my legs and under my breasts.

I haven't spent any money on creams or lotions to get rid of them as I figured they were all just a waste of money. I really don't know any women who don't have at least some stretch marks after being pregnant. I am sure there are a few lucky ones out there, but I really think they are few and far between.

Post 9

@Mykol-- Natural oils definitely help a lot. I have used olive oil and jojoba oil in the past. They definitely helped soften my skin and the stretch marks faded a little bit.

But keep in mind that these natural methods work best if you got stretch marks recently. Since these are actually scars, it becomes harder and harder to fade them as time passes. They respond to natural remedies best early on.

If it's been a long time since you got stretch marks, you can try treatments like microdermabrasion. I've heard that this is the best stretch mark removal for older stretch marks but it also costs a lot more.

Post 8

@Mykol-- I've heard really good things about vitamin E. You could buy liquid vitamin E at the pharmacy or buy stretch mark removal cream with vitamin E in it.

Since stretch marks happen when the skin loses its natural flexibility, the best way to treat it is probably to prevent it in the first place by moisturizing the skin.

When I was pregnant, I used a lot of lotion on my skin on a regular basis so that I wouldn't get stretch marks. I used natural moisturizers with ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil. These made my skin really soft and flexible and I was able to avoid stretch marks altogether thanks to it.

Post 7

I have a lot of stretch marks and I'm very conscious of them. I didn't even realize how they happened. They just showed up suddenly on my hips and buttocks when I was in middle school. I gained a lot of weight around that time and I think it was the sudden weight change that caused them.

But several years later, when my breasts started getting bigger, I also developed small stretch marks on my breasts. I didn't gain weight, my breast just developed. I have no idea why I got stretch marks that time. I'm guessing that my skin just can't handle sudden changes, whether it's weight fluctuations or normal development.

I lost weight since then and I'm at a normal weight. But my stretch marks are still there and very much visible.

Post 6

I am curious how you get rid of stretch marks naturally? When I read this article, this was the first time I realized that stretch marks were actually a form of scarring.

I don't know of any kind of natural way to get rid of scars or stretch marks. They seem to fade away with time, but the small line or mark is still there.

Post 5

I have stretch marks from gaining and losing weight too quickly. I love losing the weight, but am not so excited about the stretch marks I have from my skin being stretched out so much.

I agree that none of the creams I have tried have done a thing. I have thought about getting some kind of cosmetic procedure done, but am not sure if it would be worth the money spent or not.

Post 4

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of stretch marks, is pregnancy. I never had stretch marks until I got pregnant.

While my stretch marks are not all that noticeable, I would still love to get rid of them, but haven't found anything that works. When I see ads about products that will get rid of stretch marks fast, I don't believe any of them.

I am wondering if there is any product out there that will effectively remove stretch marks once you get them.

Post 2

Reddmark- I agree with you. I am not overly concerned about stretch marks. Many times they are faded and a light white color that is really unnoticeable.

But for those people that are determined to get rid of the stretch marks you can use a cream with vitamin E.

Also, you can see a dermatologist and get a prescription for Retin-A, which is a topical exfoliant.

The last option is laser surgery. Keep in mind that insurance companies do not pay for services like this because they are seen as cosmetic and not deemed medically necessary.

Post 1

The best way to get rid of stretch marks is to do it naturally. Wasting $100 of dollars on creams and solutions will only erase the money in your account.

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