What are Stretch Marks? Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Nov. 12, 2021 12:26 pm | by Dr. M. Tahsini

what are stretch marks


Pregnant women, people who have lost a lot of weight or undergone a rapid muscle growth workout routine have never had to ask themselves “what are stretch marks?”. Anyone that falls into any of those categories has likely encountered these complications and wondered how on earth they could get rid of them.


The following is everything you ever wanted to know about stretch marks and how to treat them.


What are Stretch Marks?

As the name implies, stretch marks are indented streaks that can appear on the abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks, legs, arms, or other places where the skin has been rapidly stretched beyond the natural elasticity of the skin.


Such marks typically are reddish or whitish, appear as though the skin is thinned, or stretched. The medical term for them is “striae” and they eventually become almost scar-like. Stretch marks are not painful or harmful, but most people do not like the way they look.


Technically, stretch marks are the result of the collagen and elastin, which provide support for the skin, rupturing, and then starting to heal. Hormones seem to play a role and there is some evidence that people with such marks in their familial history will be prone to get them.


There are several reasons why someone would get stretch marks.


Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Pregnancy takes a toll on every part of the body and one way is through stretch marks around the abdomen and breasts. The rapid growth to accommodate the baby and larger breasts cause them.


Puberty Stretch Marks

Rapid growth in boys or girls during puberty can result in stretch marks. Typically, these show up in the upper arms, hips, thighs, and buttocks. They most often happen in pre-teens and teens during growth spurts.


Rapid Weight Loss or Gain 

These show up around the abdomen usually. They are the result of the skin stretching to accommodate extra girth.


Weight Training 

Many people that work out a lot get stretch marks. These appear around the shoulders, calves, abdomen, anywhere a person gains a lot of muscle mass. Most people think bodybuilders are more susceptible, but really, any rapid muscle growth can cause them.


Diseases and Medication

Many people who have Cushing’s disease or Marfan syndrome develop stretch marks. The same is true for people who apply a corticosteroid to their skin over a long period.


Stretch Marks Treatment

Stretch marks are permanent, like a scar, but you can make them less noticeable. Some people use creams, lotions, or gels on them, but there are no clinical studies to indicate those work universally.


Some people camouflage them by tanning or using makeup. Two medicines seem to be somewhat effective: Hyaluronic acid and Tretinoin. Consult a physician before taking either.


Dermatological treatments seem to reduce the visibility of such marks:



These treatments often must be done in tandem to be effective. Multiple trips are often needed.


When to Visit a Doctor

If your stretch marks are bothersome and you want them treated, you should visit a licensed treatment facility before trying any treatment yourself. Even though they are harmless but can be unsightly. To learn more about such treatments visit our Blog Section



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