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Can you get stretch marks from losing weight?

Curious about the link between stretch marks and weight loss? This article explains why they happen and offers tips on what you can do to prevent and threat them

Nicol Ingram
Nicol Ingram
Health coach
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Can you get stretch marks from losing weight?

Stretch marks are very common and don’t just appear on pregnant women.

They are a type of scar that forms when the skin undergoes rapid stretching or shrinking. This means that those who gain or lose a significant amount of weight quickly might develop stretch marks. However, not everyone who loses a significant amount of weight will necessarily develop them. In this article, we explore the connection between stretch marks and weight loss, and discuss what you can do (if anything) to prevent them.

In this article, we'll explore the connection between stretch marks and weight loss and discuss what you can do (if anything) to prevent them.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks often occur due to rapid changes in body composition, resulting in the stretching of the skin.

They can appear on any part of the body but are most common in areas where body fat is stored, such as the:

  • Abdomen
  • Breasts
  • Buttocks
  • Hips
  • thighs.

While they are more commonly associated with weight gain, rapid or dramatic weight loss can also lead to stretch marks.

What causes stretch marks and what do they look like?

Stretch marks are a common occurrence, with nearly 90% of people developing them at some point in their lives due to changes in the body.

Although they are generally harmless, they can be noticeable and cause some people to feel self-conscious. Various reasons can cause our bodies to change rapidly causing stretch marks, such as rapid muscle gain, where collagen in the skin can't keep up with the changes, resulting in stretch marks appearing on the arms, thighs and bum.

Hormonal changes from pregnancy can also cause changes to the skin, leading to stretch marks appearing pink and purple on the stomach, upper thighs or breasts.

Can you get stretch marks from losing weight?

Yes, losing weight too quickly can cause stretch marks.

Sudden weight loss can lead to loose skin that tugs on the surrounding skin, resulting in tears in the middle layer of the skin. These tears trigger an inflammatory response, causing new stretch marks that may appear red, brown, or purple due to increased blood flow to the affected area. Over time, these marks heal and turn into scars. Factors like genetics, hormones, and underlying medical conditions can also increase the risk of developing stretch marks.

Do stretch marks go away?

Stretch marks, once they have developed, can be persistent, but they often fade over time.

While they may not completely disappear, their appearance can diminish, becoming less noticeable. The extent to which stretch marks fade, again, varies from person to person and depends on all of the factors involved in their formation, such as skin type, genetics, and the overall severity of the stretch marks.

How to prevent stretch marks (5 tips)

1. Lose weight slowly

While a quick weight loss sounds ideal, aiming for a gradual weight loss will help you avoid stretching your skin too much. Rapid weight loss can cause your skin to lose its elasticity, leading to stretch marks. Aim for a steady weight loss of about 1-2 pounds per week to give your skin time to adjust.

2. Eat a healthy diet

Eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals to keep your skin healthy. Include lean proteins like chicken and fish, fruits such as berries and citrus, vegetables like spinach and carrots, beans, and nuts in your meals. These foods help boost collagen production, which keeps your skin strong and elastic.

3. Drink plenty of water

Aim to drink 2-2.5 liters of water every day to keep your skin hydrated and elastic. Staying well-hydrated helps maintain your skin's moisture levels and elasticity, making it more resilient to stretching.

4. Get enough vitamin D

Eat foods with vitamin D like oily fish (salmon, mackerel), egg yolks, and fortified foods (cereals, plant milks). Vitamin D helps in skin repair and regeneration. During winter, when sunlight is limited, consider taking vitamin D supplements to ensure you get enough.

5. Talk to a dermatologist

If you have stretch marks, ask a dermatologist about treatments like creams, micro-needling, or laser therapy to help reduce their appearance. These treatments can help improve skin texture and fade stretch marks over time. A dermatologist can recommend the best options based on your skin type and the severity of your stretch marks.

Summary

In summary, we know that stretch marks are a normal part of life and a visible reminder that our body is changing. But, there are some preventative measures we can take if we want to lessen our chance of getting stretch marks, especially when it comes to weight loss.

At Embla, we assist our members in achieving healthy and sustainable weight loss by providing a personalised program tailored to each individual's lifestyle and requirements. Our Embla app provides a variety of resources to educate and support members throughout their journey, and we have a team of dedicated nutritionists, doctors, and nurses to support them every step of the way.

References:

Al-Shandawely, A. A., Eldawla, R. E., El_Zahraa, F., El_Deen, S., & Aboeldahab, S.An update in the etiopathogenesis of striae distensae: A review article

American Academy of Dermatology Association. (2024, STRETCH MARKS: WHY THEY APPEAR AND HOW TO GET RID OF THEM. https://www.aad.org/public. Retrieved 04/03/2024, from https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/scars-stretch-marks/stretch-marks-why-appear

Elsaie, M. L., Baumann, L. S., & Elsaaiee, L. T. (2009). Striae distensae (stretch marks) and different modalities of therapy: an update. Dermatologic Surgery, 35(4), 563-573.

NHS. (2021, Dec 07,). Stretch Marks . https://www.nhs.uk. Retrieved 04/03/2024, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stretch-marks/#:~:text=Check%20if%20you%20have%20stretch,darker%20and%20fade%20over%20time.&text=Stretch%20marks%20are%20most%20common,%2C%20bottom%2C%20hips%20or%20back.

Ud‐Din, S., McGeorge, D., & Bayat, A. (2016). Topical management of striae distensae (stretch marks): prevention and therapy of striae rubrae and albae. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 30(2), 211-222.

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Nicol Ingram
Nicol Ingram
Health coach
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5
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