Stretch marks - causes, treatment and prevention

Stretch marks - causes, treatment and prevention

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Stretch marks - emergence and effective tips for removal

They are a nuisance to women, and men are also reluctant to go to the swimming pool because of the “tiger skin”. When the summer vacation is coming, sport reveals bare skin or we become intimate with the new partner, they bother: the stretch marks. The stretch marks appear when the subcutaneous tissue of the connective tissue tears because the skin stretches a lot. Then stripes appear on the surface, the translucent blood makes them appear reddish blue.

Stretch marks - an overview of the most important facts

  • Stretch marks arise when the Tears open the subcutaneous tissue of the connective tissuebecause the skin stretches a lot.
  • The stripes are not dangerousbut an aesthetic problem.
  • They occur wherever the tissue is heavily loaded.
  • In young people, the skin is overloaded by growth. That is why stretch marks are common among them.
  • The skin cracks are mostly Predisposition and therefore cannot be avoided entirely.
  • If the stripes are there, they cannot be completely removed, there are only methods that make them less eye-catching.
  • Causes of stretch marks are, as the name suggests: the growing belly of pregnant women, especially with twin births. Up to 90% of all pregnant women show these blue-reddish tears on the abdomen, hips, bottom and chest.

Other possible causes of stretch marks are:

  • obesity
  • a genetic connective tissue weakness (even thin ones tear the subcutis)
  • stressed connective tissue that can no longer withstand new stresses: previous obesity, second or third pregnancies

Are stretch marks dangerous?

No. Stretch marks are scars from tears in the tissue. They are not medically dangerous, but for some people just an aesthetic problem.

How do the cracks appear in the subcutis?

In the ninth month of pregnancy, a woman is up to 20 kilograms heavier than before. So the body performs tremendously. Most of the extra weight in pregnant women is on the abdomen and chest. The skin stretches many times over at these points. If the weight is reduced again, the skin will not look as before.

The same is the case when people put on a lot of weight because they eat too many calories, exercise too little, or suffer from metabolic disorders.

In pregnant women, the skin is also thinned by the female hormones. The lower skin layers tear quickly in this thin and stretched skin. The blood vessels shine through the cracks, which is why those affected develop the typical “tiger pattern”, that is, reddish stripes on a light background.

Which pregnant women are at particular risk?

Stretch marks are particularly common in young pregnant women, pregnant women with large babies and pregnant women who were previously overweight. Pregnant women who have previously had stretch marks are very likely to get additional ones in the last few months before the birth. Multiple births also pose an increased risk.

Where do stretch marks appear?

Elongation cracks occur where the tissue is heavily loaded. Mostly are the abdomen, hips, buttocks and breasts. But for example, bodybuilders often have skin cracks under the armpits or on the biceps, i.e. wherever they gain (muscle) weight. This has nothing to do with obesity in these athletes.

Stretch cracks in adolescents

Around 70% of all girls and 40% of boys in puberty have stretch cracks, mostly on the chest, legs or buttocks. The young skin is overwhelmed with them. The growth spurts during puberty and strong weight fluctuations cause injuries to the subcutis and the connective tissue does not regenerate them sufficiently.

What promotes stretch marks?

In addition to weight gain and subsequent skin stretching, other factors can promote cracks in the subcutis. These include: An undersupply of vitamins E and C, a lack of protein or the intake of steroid hormones by bodybuilders.

Prevention of stretch marks

The cracks cannot be avoided entirely, but it is possible to prevent them.

A healthy diet strengthens the connective tissue. The main allies against the striped skin are vitamins E and C as well as beta-carotenoids and sufficient fluids. Vitamin E builds up the skin, vitamin C supports the connective tissue.

Vitamin C is particularly found in citrus fruits and in various types of cabbage, for example in kale. You can get vitamin E in everyday life via oils and nuts. Obtain carotenoids from broccoli, carrots or peppers.


When we exercise, blood flows and the skin and connective tissue remain taut. A connective tissue strengthened in this way withstands stress better and tears less. It's not about professional sports, especially not for pregnant women. Hiking and swimming are ideal for strengthening the connective tissue.

Alternating showers

Alternating showers promote blood circulation to the skin and are therefore a good home remedy for stretch marks. In addition, it can be easily integrated into everyday life. You only have to expose breasts, buttocks, thighs and hips alternately to warm and cold water when showering instead of a uniformly warm shower. They always end with the cold water. It is ideal if you also treat the skin with a massage glove.

Oils and creams

Overstretched skin tears even more when it is dry. On the other hand, it helps to oil the skin or use a cream. Almond oil and wheat germ oil are suitable for pregnant women.

Remove stretch marks

But what do you do when it is already too late and the cracks examine your skin? In plain language: there is no really effective treatment against stretch marks that have already arisen. The best way to treat the unsightly stripes is when they have just been created. Scar care creams don't work wonders if you use them regularly, but at least prevent the stripes from getting worse.

Don't exaggerate your "fight against stretch marks". The cracks can be contained using medical methods such as needles or lasers. Wait a few months after giving birth before you take such measures. The skin regenerates after pregnancy, and the cracks often look more dramatic immediately after birth than after some time.

Don't expect too much. Even laser does not completely remove the cracks. Only in half of those affected the traces of the damaged connective tissue become visibly better - no matter which method they use.

In addition, the health insurance companies do not pay, so they have to pay at least a few hundred, but often several thousand euros for a treatment whose results leave something to be desired. Health insurance companies do not consider stretch marks to be a health problem, and treatments for aesthetic reasons are not covered by medical care.

Laser and needling

A dye laser can bring visible results to fresh scars. It destroys the blood vessels. These provide the blue-red coloring of the stripes. This fades faster under the attack of the laser than without it.

An ablative Fraxel CO2 laser also helps against white expansion cracks. This laser shoots many small wounds in the subcutaneous tissue. The skin now closes these holes and produces new connective tissue. However, you cannot expect a 100% result here either. Some people form a lot of new connective tissue after laser treatment, others none at all.

Needling works in a similar way, except that needles replace the laser here. The doctor punctures many small wounds in the hypodermis with the needles to stimulate them to form connective tissue.

A skin roller with short needles of 0.2 mm in diameter is rolled over the affected areas. The needles penetrate up to 2.0 mm into the skin and cause small holes in the top layer of skin. As with any injury, the skin regenerates and that means it releases collagen. The costs range from 150 euros to 400 euros per session. It usually takes five sessions to see a result.

The skin is usually numbed with a cream before the stinging and the effect of needling is enhanced by a serum with hyaluronic acid. In any case, the skin is irritated by needling - similar to piercing and tattoos.

There are also needle rollers for home use, because needling is not subject to medical approval. Danger: Let such self-harm remain! You can contract infections and possibly cause worse scars than the cracks you tried to remove. If you have decided to needling, have it done by a doctor.

Stretch marks over tattoo

If you find your stretch marks ugly and love tattoos, you can also get the tears over-tattooed. However, please discuss this with an experienced tattoo artist and ideally also with a doctor.

Stretch marks often do not reach the depth at which tattoos are stung, so they can often be covered by them. Since it is scar tissue, skin bulges are usually preserved.

Brazilian tattoo artist Rudolpho Torres specializes in masking the stretch cracks with skin-colored ink, which he pricks into the top layer of skin like a tattoo.

Please pay attention to the following: The color of a tattoo changes over time, it changes due to the sun's rays and the aging of the skin. New tattoos always look lighter, and you never know what the color will look like in five years. Tattooing stretch marks with color can even make the cracks even more visible after a few years. Therefore, it is better to cover it up entirely with a larger motif. Realistic color tattoos work best to hide scars.

The same applies to stretch marks as to all scar tattoos: there is always a risk, because nobody knows how the scar tissue accepts the pigments or how the color changes. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Marc Tunzi, Gary R. Gray: Common Skin Conditions During Pregnancy, Am Fam Physician. 2007 Jan 15; 75 (2): 211-218, (accessed 28.08.2019), AAFP
  • Dorothea Terhorst-Molawi: Dermatologie Basics, Elsevier / Urban Fischer Verlag, 4th edition, 2015
  • Martin Röcken, Martin Schaller, Elke Sattler, Walter Burgdorf: Taschenatlas Dermatologie, Thieme Verlag, 1st edition, 2010

Video: Stretch Marks, Causes u0026 Medical Treatment Options (November 2022).