How to Handle Stretch Marks After Weight Loss

stretch marks after weight loss
jenjen42/ Getty Images
Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Stretch marks are irregular markings on your skin that look like bands, stripes, or lines. The medical terms for stretch marks are striae and striae atrophica.

Many people worry about stretch marks after weight loss—especially if they lose a substantial amount of weight. Do stretch marks go away? If you're concerned, there are a few things you can do to reduce their appearance as you're slimming down.

Signs and Symptoms

Stretch marks are a common concern, especially for women. The marks can be unsightly and can cause embarrassment if you wear a bathing suit, shorts or other wardrobe items that show them.

Stretch marks may look like slight indentations or discolored streaks on your skin. Recently formed stretch marks appear to be red or glossy. Over time, they become whiter in color and take on a scar-like appearance. Stretch marks clearly have a different texture than normal skin.

While they can actually occur anywhere on the body, the most common locations are the abdomen, breasts, thighs, hips, and buttocks. Stretch marks occur in both males and females.

Causes of Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are most commonly caused by significant, rapid weight gain. Stretch marks often occur during pregnancy as your skin stretches to accommodate a growing belly. But stretch marks may also happen if you gain weight quickly for other reasons.

For example, stretch marks sometimes occur when a person grows quickly, such as the rapid growth spurts that are experienced by adolescents during puberty. And stretch marks can occur after a rapid increase in muscle size (muscle hypertrophy) after weightlifting.

There are certain medical conditions that are associated with stretch marks. According to the National Institutes of Health, these are long-term use of cortisone compounds, diabetes, Cushing disease. The organizations also note that conditions including obesity and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may also cause stretch marks.

If you have stretch marks and know you have gained a significant amount of weight recently, you are most likely not suffering from any underlying medical cause.

If weight gain or pregnancy doesn't appear to be the explanation, then you probably should see your doctor. While a medical condition is not likely the cause of your stretch marks, you may wish for your doctor to rule any of them out for your own peace of mind.

Some common questions your doctor may ask you include:

  • Have you used a cortisone skin cream?
  • What medicines have you taken?
  • What other symptoms do you have?
  • When did you first notice the stretch marks?

Do Stretch Marks Go Away?

While most dieters are thrilled when they finally reach their goal weight, some people are bothered by the remaining marks on their belly or thighs. They are left wondering if the stretch marks will go away.

The good news is that stretch marks may simply disappear on their own after weight loss or childbirth. If the stretch marks don't go away, they may fade or become less noticeable.

Stretch Mark Treatment

If your stretch marks do not fade in time, there isn't really anything you can do on your own to make them go away. While some products on the market claim to fade or repair stretch marks, there isn't really a "cure" for them. Prevention is the best medicine.

The ideal way to prevent stretch marks is to avoid rapid weight gain.

If you do your best and still end up with bothersome marks, there are treatments that may work. A dermatologist or plastic surgeon is most likely to provide the best options for you to consider. Microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser surgery may help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. While these treatments will not make stretch marks disappear, they can make them less noticeable.

It's important to remember, however, that the results of these procedures can vary greatly from person to person and your success with the procedures can be affected by your age and your skin tone. They are also associated with their own potential risks. Since these are cosmetic procedures they are not generally covered by insurance.

Before you consider any treatment, be sure to fully understand the costs (including multiple treatments if required) and risks associated with the procedures.

A Word From Verywell

Stretch marks can be a frustrating side effect of losing weight. But remember that these marks do not cause any medical harm and there are substantial health benefits to weight loss if you are overweight or obese.

If you are worried about stretch marks after weight loss, talk to your weight loss doctor about the benefits of slow and steady weight loss and get recommendations for other ways to treat and manage your stretch marks as you lose weight.

Was this page helpful?
2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Farahnik B, Park K, Kroumpouzos G, Murase J. Striae gravidarum: Risk factors, prevention, and management. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2017;3(2):77-85. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2016.11.001

  2. Wollina U, Goldman A. Management of stretch marks (with a focus on striae rubrae). J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2017;10(3):124-129. doi:10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_118_17