What can I do about stretch marks?

Stretch marks are narrow pink or purplish streaks or lines that can appear on the skin during pregnancy. They don’t always disappear after childbirth but they should become less noticeable.

What causes stretch marks?

During pregnancy your hormones can soften the fibres of your skin, making it more prone to stretch marks. You may get stretch marks on your tummy as your baby grows and your skin stretches. You may also develop them on your thighs and breasts as they get bigger. When this happens will be different for everyone. The first sign may be some itching.

Stretch marks aren’t harmful and don’t cause any medical problems.  

Can I prevent stretch marks?

You can’t always prevent stretch marks occurring, especially during pregnancy. Stretch marks affect about 8 out of 10 pregnant women.

You are more likely to get stretch marks if your weight gain is more than average in pregnancy. Every pregnant woman gains weight differently so there are no official guidelines for how much weight you should gain. The most important thing is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, which will help to keep your weight gain to a safe and healthy level for you and your baby. Most women put on between 10kg (22lb) and 12.5kg (28lb) during their pregnancy, although this varies from woman to woman.

Gaining the weight steadily during your pregnancy can help reduce the effect of stretch marks.

The appearance of stretch marks can be difficult for some women and affect their confidence. But even if you’re concerned about stretch marks, don't try to lose weight while you're pregnant. This is not healthy for you or your baby.

Find out more about weight management in pregnancy.

Treating stretch marks

There are a few treatment options available, although there isn’t much evidence that they work.

You could try:

  • using makeup
  • using creams, gels or lotions. There are a lot of these on the market and the manufacturers often claim they can remove stretchmarks. But it’s unlikely they can prevent stretch marks or make them fade away. They should be applied when your stretch marks are still red or purple. Massaging the skin may help.
  • Laser therapy. This can’t completely remove stretch marks, but it may help them fade. Laser therapy can be expensive and isn’t available on the NHS.

Your stretch marks probably won’t go away completely after your baby is born. But they should gradually fade from a pink or purplish colour to white and become much less noticeable.


NHS Choices. Stretch marks https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stretch-marks/ (Page last reviewed: 06/11/2017 Next review due: 06/11/2020)

NHS Choices. Stretch marks in pregnancy https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/stretch-marks-pregnant/ (Page last reviewed: 27/07/2016 Next review due: 27/07/2019)

NHS Choices. How much weight will I put on in pregnancy? https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/how-much-weight-will-i-put-on-during-my-pregnancy/ (Page last reviewed: 21/12/2015. Next review due: 30/11/2018)

NICE Guidelines (2010) Weight management before, during and after pregnancy National Institute for Health and Care Excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph27

Hide details

    Last reviewed on December 6th, 2018. Next review date December 6th, 2021.

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No


    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Kathleen (not verified) on 1 Jan 2020 - 07:51

      I did one thing for stretch mark I used dermalmd stretch mark serum with my first pregnancy. Applied minimum twice a day, walked away without a single stretch mark. Using it again with my current pregnancy because I trust nothing else!!! The only downside is the thickness, but that is probably why it works so well.

    • By Ifeoluwa (not verified) on 6 Dec 2019 - 06:56

      I abort a pregnant that is not up to a month and my blala use to pain me, what am I going to use

    • By Jimmie (not verified) on 24 Mar 2019 - 09:24

      Dermalmd stretch mark serum is nice but, a little goes a far way. Using stretch mark serum of dermalmd to heal stretch marks from my first pregnancy and since I am pregnant again, prevent any new ones. I do use a massager to put it on and use it twice a day. I use it on my stomach, arms, breasts, and thighs.

    • By Thania (not verified) on 24 Aug 2017 - 09:57

      I used dermalmd stretch mark serum right from the second trimester of my pregnancy for massaging my belly. Everyday. I don't have even a single stretch mark.

    Add new comment