How to Reduce Exercise-Induced Stretch Marks

Stretch marks can be unsightly.
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While stretch marks are often associated with pregnancy or gaining weight too rapidly, they can also occur if you build muscle too quickly. Bulking up too fast can make your skin stretch beyond its capacity and lead to stretch marks. Common areas for this to happen when working out are the arms, thighs, back and chest. Though prevention is the best remedy, if you've already developed stretch marks from working out, there are things you can do to get rid of them.


Step 1

Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can maintain proper skin health and boost collagen production. This is essential, since collagen is vital for healthy skin and can help to fill in the gaps where the over-stretched skin dents and dips. Foods high in vitamin C like citrus fruits are especially helpful in boosting collagen production.

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Step 2

Reduce the amount of weight you lift when working out. While you might want to develop large and bulky muscles, doing so too quickly can cause stretch marks. Instead, use lighter weights and increase the number of repetitions to build muscle without putting your skin at risk.

Step 3

Visit your dermatologist's office to get a prescription for tretinoin cream. Apply this cream directly to your stretch marks on a daily basis. This will lighten redness and increase collagen production beneath the skin, which can help to fill in stretch marks slightly.

Step 4

Undergo laser therapy with a non-ablative laser to remove your stretch marks. A pulsed dye laser can work to heat up the deeper layers of tissue and stimulate elastin and collagen production. A different laser process stimulates your skin pigment, or melanin, to recolor the scar tissue and minimize the appearance of the stretch marks. Both laser therapies generally require several treatments.


In time the red or brown stretch marks will fade to silver or white and become less noticeable. Avoid sun exposure or use sun block until the stretch marks have healed. They may turn a dark color if exposed to UV rays.


Consult your doctor before beginning any treatments for stretch marks. If stretch marks appear and you haven't been working out, gained weight or become pregnant, consult your doctor as soon as possible. Stretch marks are a symptom of other health conditions.

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Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.