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Stretch marks: appearance, causes, treatments

 Stretch marks: appearance, causes, treatments

During adolescence, pregnancy, or with repeated dieting, white or red stretch marks may appear on the skin. How to prevent them? What are the effective treatments to remove them?

Definition: what is a stretch mark?

“Stretch marks are persistent skin lesions which are similar to scars and which mainly occur at puberty and during pregnancy when one has at the same time distension of a part of the body, that is to say, say an increase in volume (but not always), and often the promoting role of certain hormones. If we analyze the skin, the number of elastic fibers is greatly reduced. Exceptionally, they can occur spontaneously. 40% of men are concerned against 70% of women “.


Stretch marks are usually located in areas that gain volume


The appearance of stretch marks

Stretch marks have the appearance of linear depressions which are oriented most of the time in the direction of the tension of the skin. There are two phases of evolution:

. an inflammatory phase which gives them a purplish red appearance due to the dilation of the vessels
. a cicatricial phase where they are white and atrophic.

“Stretch marks are usually located in areas that gain volume: under the breasts, on the thighs and hips in adolescence, and on the breasts and abdomen in pregnancy. In men, they are seen in the lower part of the back, at the root of the arms in those who do bodybuilding and the inner side of the knees, ”emphasizes the dermatologist.

A person at risk and risk factors

The risk factors during pregnancy are:

. Young pregnancies,

. Rapid weight gain, big babies. A certain position of the uterus.

Apart from pregnancy, the risk factors are:

. Obesity, especially if weight gain is rapid and is associated with a hormonal problem.

. Physical activity can also lead to stretch marks, regardless of any weight gain.

“Stretch marks are also observed in anorexics, either when we gain weight or when we lose it. We can also see stretch marks appear after breast prostheses and in certain genetic diseases due to the fragility of collagen. There is undoubtedly a genetic factor, but currently, we cannot predict the risk. Stretch marks can also be due to the taking of certain drugs: corticosteroids in cream or by oral route “, specifies the specialist.

Medicinal treatments against stretch marks: surgery, laser …

The faster we treat stretch marks, the more effective we will be. Better to treat them in the inflammatory phase than in the atrophic phase. “The only cream that has been shown to be effective is tretinoin, which must be used at a high concentration of 0.1%. It is contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and it is only available on medical prescriptions. 

Creams, the most effective treatments are fractional radiofrequency and non-ablative laser. It often takes several sessions, and results are delayed (1 to 2 months after treatment). These treatments greatly improve the appearance (smoother stretch marks, shallower) without completely erasing them. 

All these processes aim to stimulate the cells which are at the origin of the synthesis of fibers in the dermis and to activate the healing process “, comments the dermatologist. Other treatments have not shown convincing results (IPL, PRP, LED, etc.). Note that sometimes the best results are obtained by combining the methods.

Stretch marks



During pregnancy and during periods when the skin is at risk, you should moisturize your skin with products that contain vitamin A. The goal? Strengthen the skin’s defense against stretching. “In athletes, we must warn against the consumption of products that promise a faster increase in muscle mass (often purchased on the Internet). These uncontrolled products often contain anabolic hormones which are often at risk of stretch marks”, warns Dr. Laurence Netter.

Effective natural remedies?

There is not really an effective natural remedy but gestures that contribute to better flexibility and better resistance to stretching. “To fight against stretch marks, it is essential to adopt a healthy lifestyle: control your weight, especially in early pregnancy, hydrate your skin well morning and evening, and avoid washing with too aggressive soaps which remove the film. Surface hydrolipidic “, remarks the dermatologist.

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