Stretch marks are long, narrow streaks, stripes or lines that develop on the skin and which differ in hue from the surrounding skin. They are the result of a sudden stretching of the skin and are extremely common. Anyone can develop stretch marks, although they tend to affect more women than men.
Stretch marks can be visible on body parts including the tummy, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms, and lower back. The marks form in the middle layer of the skin; when there is a constant stretch, the layer tears, leaving stretch marks.
This type of scarring happens when the skin cannot bounce back after a period of intense growth, be that due to pregnancy, weight gain, or during puberty. Extreme weight loss can also make stretch marks more visible, and some stretch marks arise as a result of acute trauma affecting the skin (such as a car accident when heavily pregnant).
Stretch marks are usually a slightly red or purple shade to begin with, fading with time to silvery white lines that may or may 

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are also called striae distensae, SD, striae, striae atrophicans and striae gravidarum. They are dermal scars or disfiguring lesions characterized by flattening and atrophy (wasting or degeneration) of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin).
Stretch marks are linear, smooth bands on the skin that, depending on skin color, can appear as red or purple and which fade over time to leave silvery pale marks.
pregnant woman with stretch marks
Stretch marks are long, narrow streaks that are visible on the surface of the skin as a result of sudden stretching of the skin.
Occurring in 40-90% of women, stretch marks appear following rapid repeated over-stretching of the skin over weak connective tissue. The most common areas affected are the:
  • Abdomen
  • Breasts
  • Hips
  • Flank
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs.
Skin changes are common in pregnancy with stretch marks occurring in over 70% of pregnant women, usually after 25 weeks of gestation.
Stretch marks are not medically dangerous, but can be a cause of aesthetic concern and anxiety. For some people, stretch marks are such a significant cosmetic concern that they affect quality of life. They can be disfiguring, causing emotional and psychological distress, especially during puberty, the latter stages of pregnancy (when they are most prominent), in the postnatal period where they appear pale, or after significant weight loss.
This type of dermatological scarring is particularly challenging and tends to occur with
  • Pregnancy
  • Puberty
  • Obesity
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Weightlifting
  • Numerous medical conditions
  • Certain therapeutic interventions.


Stretch marks are common during the later stages of pregnancy; their occurrence depends largely on
skin type and skin elasticity.
Preliminary research in women undergoing a second Caesarian section has revealed that the greater the severity of stretch marks in pregnancy the more likely it is that intraperitoneal adhesions are present, which may complicate the second C-section or other abdominal surgery.
Intraperitoneal adhesions were present in half of those with severe striae gravidarum, 30% of those with mild stretch marks, and fewer than 1 in 10 (9.1%) of those with no stretch marks.
Hormones are produced during pregnancy that soften pelvic ligaments and increase their flexibility. Hormones also soften skin fibers, giving an increased risk of stretch marks.
Stretch marks appear on the abdomen as the baby grows and sometimes occur in the skin covering the thighs and breasts.

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