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Can You Get Stretch Marks From Losing Weight? (The Answer)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Last updated: September 30, 2022

I’ve helped countless clients lose weight during the decade I’ve been a fitness coach, and one of the most common concerns my clients have is whether they’ll get stretch marks if they lose some pounds.

I talked with a dermatologist friend and my clients who had a weight loss to get their perspective. Here’s what you should know about stretch marks and weight loss.

Quick Summary

  • Stretch marks commonly occur when there’s a rapid weight gain or loss.
  • Stretch marks look red at first but become less visible over time.
  • You can use several treatments to improve the appearance of stretch marks.

Stretch Marks After Weight Loss

Close up image of stretch marks

Stretch marks typically occur when there’s a rapid weight gain.

Your skin stretches, which causes tears in the skin’s inner layer. This happens because collagen and elastin are damaged.

Most stretch marks are actually created not when you have a weight loss but when you gain weight. However, they are usually visible once you lose fat.

The appearance of stretch marks after losing weight can differ.

When they are fresh, stretch marks look red, pink, or even purple-blue, and the skin looks thin and elevated. But, over time, they thin and become pale.

If you lose weight slowly, you’ll have a lower chance of getting stretch marks. You should only lose one percent of your body weight weekly to prevent stretch marks. This slow process of losing weight also helps you save muscles.

How to Prevent Stretch Marks?

A person showing side stretch masks

The best way to prevent stretch marks is to start treatment before or during weight gain. This isn’t always possible because weight gain is often unplanned.

If you notice you're starting to gain weight, you should start taking preventative measures.

For example, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly to boost collagen production. Make sure you have enough vitamins E and C and zinc.

You should also drink water to stay hydrated and eliminate toxins from the body and apply hydrating creams to improve skin elasticity.

As mentioned above, you should lose extra pounds slowly, especially if you plan to get rid of a lot of extra weight. This can avoid stretching skin tears.

Finally, be aware that, for the most part, stretch marks aren’t preventable. They are very common and are a part of bodily changes that most people experience.

“A stretch mark is a type of scar that develops when our skin stretches or shrinks quickly. The abrupt change causes the collagen and elastin, which support our skin, to rupture. As the skin heals, stretch marks may appear.”

- American Academy of Dermatology Association

When they are fresh, stretch marks look red, pink, or even purple-blue, and the skin looks thin and elevated. But, over time, they thin and become pale.

If you lose weight slowly, you’ll have a lower chance of getting stretch marks. You should only lose one percent of your body weight weekly to prevent stretch marks. This slow process of losing weight also helps you save muscles.

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How to Treat Stretch Marks?

There are several ways in which you can treat existing stretch marks, including topical treatments, laser therapy, micro-needling, and other less-known methods.

Topical Treatments

Some research indicated topical treatments, such as stretch mark creams and oils, may be effective in treating new and older stretch marks [1].

For example, tretinoin has shown results. It can stimulate collagen production and the creation of new cells.

You can also do a home treatment, such as cocoa butter and olive oil. These improve skin elasticity and hydration.

Or, you can buy creams for stretch marks.

These creams have lipids and peptides that stimulate collagen and promote skin regeneration and healing.

These creams also have vitamin E, which contains fatty acids and improves skin elasticity.

While you can’t expect to eliminate stretch marks with topical treatments completely, they are useful for improving the appearance of existing marks and preventing the formation of new stretch marks.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy for stretch marks and scars

Laser therapy can help with stretch marks removal, but it works best in the initial phase [2]. You should have this therapy while stretch marks are still fresh and look red.

The most common laser therapy is Pulse Dye Laser (PDL).

This therapy is only done at dermatology clinics and is pricey. The laser targets the existing marks, reduces redness and prevents their further progression.

You can expect laser treatment to make stretch marks look better and less visible.

This therapy isn’t as effective on older stretch marks, but it can increase collagen and make old marks blend in with the surrounding skin.

Microneedling

Microneedling is a more drastic approach compared to lasers. It’s very invasive and comes with certain risks because it works by damaging the skin.

A professional uses tiny needles to pierce the skin. This stops stretch mark formation and makes new skin cells replace existing ones.

Other Treatments

You have a better chance of stopping developing stretch marks than making old ones disappear completely.

But, you can improve skin health and reduce stretch marks by:

  • Nutrition — Have a diet rich in Vitamin C and proteins from seafood, nuts, and lean meat. These help with healing stretch marks. Avoid sugar and processed foods as much as possible.
  • Hydration — Dry skin is more likely to have stretch marks. You should drink about eight glasses of water a day to avoid dry skin and avoid coffee and soda.
  • Exercise — Improves circulation and keeps skin elastic.

Plastic surgery — The most drastic approach to stretch mark removal. A surgery removes skin on your body, which also removes stretch marks.

FAQs

Can Vaseline Remove Stretch Marks?

No, Vaseline can’t remove stretch marks, but it can moisturize the skin and help skin appearance.

Are Stretch Marks Permanent?

Yes, stretch marks are permanent, but treatments can make them less visible.

Why Do Stretch Marks Itch When Losing Weight?

Stretch marks itch when losing weight because of the dermal tearing or healing which in turn causes itchy and tingling sensations.

Do White Stretch Marks Mean Weight Loss?

No, white stretch marks don’t mean weight loss. White stretch marks mean that the tearings have been there for a while but have now matured. When they first appear, stretch marks are red or pink.

How Can You Get Rid of Stretch Marks After Weight Loss?

If you’ve recently lost weight and are having stretch marks visible on your body, it’s completely normal. Most people have stretch marks at some point in their lives.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to eliminate stretch marks completely. However, you can do several treatments, such as creams and oils, hyaluronic acid, and laser treatments, to improve the way your stretch marks look.

If you’re looking for a way to get rid of stubborn fat, check out our selection of the best fat burners.

In my professional experience, fat burners make it easier for my clients to shed extra pounds while providing all the ingredients to boost skin radiance and quality, hence minimizing the risk of stretch marks.


References:

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jdv.13223
  2. https://www.aocd.org/page/Striae
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