Stretch marks are a common cosmetic concern. Approximately 90 percent of women have some stretch marks, and those with larger bodies tend to develop them more often. Weight loss can diminish the prominence of stretch marks and cause them to become less noticeable over time.
Stretch marks generally form during periods of rapid development in children and teenagers, but they can also form during bodybuilding or periods of rapid weight loss.
These marks are tears within the dermis, or middle layer of skin. They normally appear as linear stretches on the skin’s surface and can vary in color from pink to reddish purple to silvery white.
Weight loss can cause a reduction in stretch marks if it results in a lower body weight that is less than the body’s capacity before gaining weight. The elasticity of the dermis increases as fat cells are reduced or eliminated from the dermis, which may minimize stretch mark formation.
When the skin has to stretch its elastic capacity due to rapid weight gain, it can tear and develop small tears within the dermis. These marks heal themselves as the skin naturally repairs itself, but the healing process results in scar tissue.
More extensive tearing of the dermis leads to larger scars and also compromises collagen fibers. Collagen provides firmness and structure to the skin.
Although weight loss can minimize the appearance of stretch marks, it does not reduce or eliminate them in all cases.
Additional factors that contribute to the persistence and prominence of stretch marks include skin type, skin coloration, location of the stretch marks and orientation on the body.
Scar treatment creams may help improve the appearance of stretch marks, but they are largely ineffective.