Weight loss stretch marks are common and normal. While many find them beautiful, not everyone likes the way tiger marks look. If that’s the case, there are lots of effective ways to prevent and treat them.
Stretch marks (aka striae) are marks that develop in the skin when it’s stretched, usually due to rapid weight changes. They can happen with pregnancy, weight gain, and even weight loss in some cases. Stretch marks can also range in color from silvery pale to angry reddish-purple. They’re totally normal, but may not be part of the look you’re going for.
Here’s your guide to preventing and reducing the appearance of stretch marks while losing weight.
Many people claim that weight loss actually doesn’t cause stretch marks. However, according to Alexis Parcells, MD, FACS, plastic surgeon and founder of SUNNIE Skincare, any rapid weight changes can lead to stretch marks.
“Anytime there’s a rapid fluctuation in weight, your skin may not have enough time to contract properly, and this can contribute to stretch marks,” she says. “Additionally, depending on genetics and external factors such as diet and hydration, you may be prone to loss of skin elasticity which can exacerbate the appearance of stretch marks.”
So not only can fast weight loss or gain contribute to stretch marks, but they may also form on areas where you have loose, hanging skin after weight loss.
Unfortunately, you can’t completely avoid stretch marks unless you’re ✨genetically blessed✨. However, there are some ways to reduce your chances. Here’s what Parcells recommends:
Drinking water can keep your skin elastic. Stay hydrated with plenty of water throughout your weight loss efforts. Drinking enough water may actually help with weight loss, too.
A good moisturizer is an essential part of your skincare routine for stretch mark prevention.
Eat a healthy diet
Parcells also explains that a high-quality diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help play a key role in stretch mark prevention. They provide everything your skin cells need to stay healthy.
Be sure that your diet includes plenty of protein like eggs, salmon, beans, or legumes. You can also pack your plate with healthy fats and various antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
Lose weight slowly
Slow weight loss is more likely to be sustainable and healthy, and less likely to cause rebound weight gain, too. “A gradual loss in weight can help skin adjust to your changing body and reduce the risk of stretch marks,” Parcells says.
Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
So can you get rid of stretch marks after you’ve reached your goal weight? Here’s what Parcells has to say.
“While there is no magic bullet to completely erase stretch marks, there are some solutions that can help reduce their appearance,” she says. “The goal is to disrupt the dermis of the skin to increase collagen and elastin production.”
Collagen and elastin form the matrix that your skin is made from, so treatments that stimulate the production of these compounds can help to promote the turnover of “stretch-marked” skin cells to replace them with new, healthy cells.
Here are the treatments Parcells recommends:
“Look for products that contain a high concentration of antioxidants, like vitamin C, and retinols which can increase cell turnover and improve skin texture and tone,” Parcells says.
Laser treatments, available at med spas, dermatology offices, and some cosmetic surgery clinics, may also be useful. Just keep in mind this may require multiple treatments and maintenance.
These treatments are available at many med spas, dermatology offices, and cosmetic surgery clinics.
“This technique works by irritating the top layer of the skin, increasing cell turnover, and minimizing the appearance of stretch marks,” Parcells says.
A final resort for some people may be surgery. “There are instances when stretch marks can be completely removed,” Parcells says. “For example, if your stretch marks are focused on your lower abdomen and you undergo a tummy tuck, they are essentially cut out and permanently removed.”
Stretch marks are normal. Unless you are one of the rare people with stretch mark-resistant genetics, or you have stretch marks that can be permanently removed through surgery (and you can afford and are willing to go through such a surgery), then your stretch marks are gonna stick around.
You may be able to minimize their appearance or prevent new ones from developing, but it’s still important to learn to love your body just as it is — stretch marks and all. Your “tiger stripes” tell a story — one of struggle, persistence, and ultimately triumph. Embrace them!
Don’t let social media get you down, either — especially during spring and summer when everyone is showing off their tummy. Many of your favorite influencers probably have stretch marks too… they just edit them out of their photos.
Rapid weight changes, including weight loss, could cause stretch marks to form or become more noticeable. You can help prevent new stretch marks or minimize their look by staying hydrated, using a retinol or vitamin C moisturizer, eating a healthy diet, and prioritizing slow weight loss. But remember that stretch marks are normal, and nothing that you have to hide away. You earned those stripes!