Some people seem to get stretch marks at the slightest sign of weight gain, while others have resilient skin that resists all stretching. Factors beyond your control -- such as genetics, age and pregnancy -- may make your skin more likely to develop stretch marks, but you can control other factors to help prevent these lines.
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If you are a yo-yo dieter or gain and lose weight frequently, your skin is more likely to develop stretch marks. Normal skin usually is elastic and able to bounce back into place due to collagen, the protein that forms your skin’s connective tissue. When it is overstretched or forced to grow rapidly, collagen production is disrupted, causing stretch marks, according to the Nemours Foundation. If you maintain a steady, healthy weight, your skin is less likely to develop stretch marks.
Dry skin is less elastic than healthy, well-hydrated skin. If your skin is moisturized, you are less likely to develop stretch marks, as your skin can adapt to changes in your body weight and shape more easily. If you are prone to stretch marks, make sure you use a moisturizing product after you shower every day to help seal in moisture. Also, eat a nutritious diet, with plenty of antioxidants such as vitamin A and C to help protect your skin.
As you age, your skin loses collagen and other tissue that helps keep it elastic and able to retain its shape, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This means that your skin actually stretches out better, making you less likely to develop stretch marks. However, this means that young skin -- with more collagen, fat and supporting tissues -- is more prone to stretch marks. Fortunately, young skin will heal stretch marks more quickly, fading them from reddish purple marks to lighter almost invisible lines.
Your genetics, particularly skin color and family history, play a factor in whether your skin is prone to stretch marks. While reasons are still unclear, women with darker complexions are more likely to develop stretch marks than women with lighter complexions. In addition, if your mother was prone to stretch marks, you are more likely to get them. Over half the women who report stretch marks also had a mother who had stretch marks, according to the American Pregnancy Association.