How to Avoid Stretch Marks When Losing Weight

Woman applying lotion to leg
Keep your skin stretch mark free when losing weight. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Wide fluctuations in weight over a short period of time can cause both women and men to get stretch marks. Although not everyone gets stretch marks when losing weight, genetics can play a role. Skin type is another factor, as some people have more elastic skin than others. Stretch marks generally affect the stomach and thighs, but they may also appear on the breasts, arms and buttocks. While there are no health risks associated with having stretch marks, there are some things you can do to help prevent them from developing as you lose weight.

Step 1

Woman on scale
Lose weight gradually. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Lose weight gradually. As the skin shrinks it loses its elasticity, especially in cases of rapid weight loss. You do not want to strain your skin as you take off excess pounds. Loss of collagen fibers in the dermis is what causes stretch marks to show through the top layer of skin.

Step 2

Close-up of bowl of salted cashew nuts
Include foods rich in protein, vitamins C and E and zinc in your diet. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Include foods rich in protein, vitamins C and E and zinc in your diet. These nutrients stimulate collagen production, which can help prevent stretch marks. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that individuals in their 40s and 50s are less likely to develop stretch marks. The reason is that by midlife a person’s skin begins to thin and lose its elasticity as collagen in the outer and middle layers of the skin breaks down.

Step 3

Close-up of a woman drinking glass of water
Drink plenty of water. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Keep your skin well hydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep skin soft and supple so that stretch marks are less likely to form. Dry skin has less elasticity.

Step 4

Woman putting lotion on her leg
Use an over-the-counter topical moisturizing cream or lotion specially formulated to prevent stretch marks. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Use an over-the-counter topical moisturizing cream or lotion specially formulated to prevent stretch marks. Apply to the skin twice each day. If you are really worried about stretch marks forming, talk to your doctor or dermatologist about prescription retinoid creams. These vitamin A derivatives work by making the outer layer of the skin thinner. This allows the cream to get through to the dermis, where it increases collagen production.

Step 5

Young woman doing stretching exercises
Exercise. Do light stretching exercises as part of your daily workout routine. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Exercise. Do light stretching exercises as part of your daily workout routine. This improves circulation and skin elasticity. Exercise also tightens and tones muscles. In addition to stretching, resistance and strength training exercises build lean muscle mass as you lose body fat. Muscle helps hold the skin in place.

Warning

Stress can interfere with collagen production in the skin, contributing to the development of stretch marks. Reducing stress in your life may actually help protect you from getting stretch marks as you lose weight.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.