Stretch Marks


Stretch Marks

All About Stretch Marks

Nearly 80% of women have stretch marks on their skin. Although harmless, these marks are particularly dreaded for their unsightly appearance. Fortunately, solutions exist to fade and prevent the appearance of stretch marks.

What Are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are skin streaks forming visible and irregular lines on the epidermis. These marks appear when the skin stretches or shrinks rapidly, causing the elastic fibres in the dermis to break. These supporting fibres, which include collagen and elastin, are produced by fibroblasts located in the middle layer of the skin. They are essential in maintaining the skin’s elasticity and firmness, ensuring its resistance to stretching. A sudden distension of the skin disrupts its structure and breaks the fibres, leading to cracks on the skin’s surface, which are initially pink or purple before turning a pearly white colour.

Stretch marks appear on different body parts, particularly in areas prone to tension. These marks mainly affect the abdomen, hips, buttocks, inner thighs, and breasts but can also appear on the back, arms, and armpits.

Causes of Stretch Marks Formation: What Are the Causes?

Stretch marks are caused by various factors, either associated or not. The most common causes are:

Hormonal Changes

Hormones are one of the leading causes of stretch marks. Indeed, hormonal imbalances can lead to bodily changes that favour the appearance of streaks on the skin. During pregnancy, the production of hormones such as cortisol and estrogen increases, leading to alterations in the structure and function of fibroblasts. Consequently, the skin loses its elasticity and becomes prone to stretch marks. These marks often appear during pregnancy, usually at the end of the first trimester, and can occur up to three months after childbirth.

In addition to pregnancy, puberty causes hormonal disruptions that can promote the appearance of stretch marks. Rapid growth can subject the skin tissues to tension, causing the fibres to break. Stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, arms, and back are common during adolescence.

Menopause is also a factor in stretch marks. The decrease in hormones essential for the skin’s elasticity, firmness, and weight gain can also cause them.

Weight Variations

The skin is at risk of cracking when it undergoes significant and rapid stretching or shrinking. Sudden weight gain or loss especially favours this phenomenon. Indeed, these changes caused by drastic and repeated diets strain the skin and weaken its elasticity. Athletes who practice bodybuilding can also develop stretch marks following a significant increase in their muscle mass.

Genetic Factors

The risk of stretch marks varies depending on the skin type. Thin skin, characterized by inadequate elastic fibres such as collagen and elastin, tends to be more vulnerable than others. Denser skin, rich in fibres, is generally less prone to developing stretch marks. Also, stretch marks are generally more visible on fair skin than on dark, tanned, or black skin.

Different Types of Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are distinguished into two types:

Red Stretch Marks

Red or purple stretch marks are recent and inflamed streaks, which give them this colour. These immature marks are generally caused by rapid stretching or shrinking of the skin and can be painful to the touch.

White Stretch Marks

Over time, stretch marks heal and lighten. These so-called “mature” marks appear as pearly white streaks.

Tips for Preventing Stretch Marks

Prevention remains the best way to maintain the elasticity and suppleness of your skin. To slow down the appearance of stretch marks, it is essential to adopt good daily habits:

Watch Your Weight

A balanced and varied diet is essential to maintain a healthy weight and avoid rapid stretching and shrinking of the skin. Consume foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, which are beneficial for synthesizing elastin and collagen. These nutrients are found in products such as parsley, spinach, carrots, broccoli, and apricots. Vitamin E, vitamin C, and zinc, with their antioxidant properties, protect the skin from oxidative stress. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids also help maintain the skin’s strength and flexibility. Vitamin A contributes to the regulation of keratin to prevent dry skin.
Regular physical activity is also essential for maintaining weight. Walking, yoga, or swimming are recommended to stimulate blood circulation and improve skin elasticity.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is essential for keeping skin supple and healthy. Drink at least 1.5 litres of water daily to hydrate your skin and prevent stretch marks. Water-rich fruits and vegetables, tea, and infusions are also recommended to meet your water needs.

Adopt a Good Skincare Routine

A beauty routine that meets its needs is critical to supple and healthy skin. Choose the right products to maintain your skin’s elasticity and reduce the risk of stretch marks. The first step is to cleanse the skin using a gentle exfoliant deeply. Apply the product by massaging the areas prone to stretch marks at least once a week. Exfoliation helps to remove dead cells, promoting oxygenation and the renewal of skin cells.
In addition to good internal hydration, it is crucial to hydrate and nourish your skin with products rich in moisturizing agents. Opt for a cream or balm rich in hyaluronic acid, glycerin, shea butter, or aloe vera, known for its moisturizing and nourishing properties. Also, protect your skin from the sun with a high-SPF cream. Lack of sun protection can make stretch marks more visible after sun exposure.

Aesthetic Treatments to Reduce Stretch Marks

Several aesthetic treatments are available to reduce stretch marks, such as:

Anti-Stretch Mark Creams

Anti-stretch mark creams with vitamin A acid effectively treat recent stretch marks. This formula induces slight epidermis irritation and dermis to stimulate collagen and elastin production, filling the recently formed cracks. This treatment is particularly recommended for adolescents during puberty. However, treatments containing vitamin A acid are contraindicated for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Laser Treatment and Microdermabrasion

Laser is a popular method for treating both immature and mature stretch marks. This technique uses erbium or CO2 lasers to remove a targeted skin area. The thermal effect of the laser then induces increased collagen production in the dermis. This method often requires several sessions of about 30 minutes each. The beneficial effects can be observed after three weeks of treatment. However, the healing process can be intense and requires constant care, such as applying dressings during the healing period to avoid the risk of infection.

Fractional microneedling is a viable alternative. Less invasive than laser treatment, this dermatological procedure combines ultra-fine needles and radiofrequency (RF) energy to create tiny perforations in the skin. This technique stimulates the natural healing process by increasing collagen and elastin production.


Radiofrequency uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to reduce stretch marks. This technique generates heat through the skin to cause skin contraction. It stimulates fibroblasts to produce more elastin and collagen, restoring the skin’s firmness and tone.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels, which exfoliate the skin with acids such as glycolic, phenolic, or trichloroacetic (TCA) acids, may be recommended to reduce stretch marks. This method is commonly applied to correct acne and other minor skin disorders. A more intensive version of this procedure, a deep peel, is recommended for stretch marks.

Cosmetic Surgery for Treating Stretch Marks

Cosmetic surgery can be an option for treating severe or bothersome stretch marks that do not respond to cosmetic treatments.


Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure for removing excess skin from the lower abdomen. It smoothes the appearance of the belly and makes stretch marks in this area less visible. This procedure is generally preceded by liposuction to remove localized excess fat.


Significant stretch marks can be corrected with a lift. A breast lift or reduction is possible for stretch marks on the lower part of the breast or around the areola. This intervention involves removing excess skin and breast tissue. The skin of the breast becomes firmer, and the stretch marks are less visible.
Thigh lifts target stretch marks on the thighs, buttocks, and lower sides. Two methods can be practiced: internal lifting and external lifting. Both techniques involve removing excess skin and fat, which firms the skin and reduces the appearance of stretch marks.