What can I do about stretch marks?

Stretch marks appear mostly on your stomach, breasts and thighs. They look like darker lines or streaks and they appear as your bump grows and your skin stretches.

Stretch marks are common and there’s not much you can do to avoid them or treat them.

What causes stretch marks?

Skin is made up of three main layers – the epidermis (outer), the dermis (middle) and the subcutis (inner). Stretch marks happen when the middle layer of the skin is stretched and breaks.

Genetics and stretch marks

Some people get stretch marks and others don’t. Whether you get stretch marks or not can depend on your skin type – some people just have more elastic skin that can stretch easily without leaving a mark. If you have a close relative who got stretch marks in pregnancy, such as your mother, you're more likely to develop them yourself.

Rapid weight gain and stretch marks

Mums-to-be who put on more than the average amount of weight and those who have twins or more are also more likely to get them. During pregnancy, it's normal to put on weight over a relatively short period of time. However, it's a myth that you need to 'eat for two', even if you're expecting twins or triplets. Most women gain between 10kg and 12.5kg (22 and 28lb) in pregnancy, although weight gain varies a great deal from woman to woman. 

Can I prevent stretch marks?

There are many creams and oils on the market that claim to prevent or stop stretch marks but they unlikely to have any effect. They can’t reach the middle layer or dermis. 

A review of two studies looking at two specific creams marketed as preventing stretch marks found that massaging the skin may help to prevent stretch marks in pregnancy but more research is needed to find out conclusively whether this works.

Some creams claim to remove stretch marks once they've appeared, but there is no reliable evidence that they work.

Stretch marks will fade over time after your baby is born.

Read more

  • Pregnant woman rubbing cream in to belly.


    Tiger stripes - pregnancy stretch marks

    I've been slathering myself in Bio Oil and some hideously expensive body butter stuff meant especially for pregnant tums and for combating stretch marks since about month two.


  • Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall
  • NHS Choices [accessed 10 February 2015] Stretch marks in pregnancy. Review: 17 July 2016:http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/stretch-marks-pregnant.aspx#close  .
  • Brennan M, Young G, Devane D (2012) ‘Topical preparations for preventing stretch marks in pregnancy’, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 11: CD000066: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23152199
  • Buchanan K, Fletcher HM, Reid M. Prevention of striae gravidarum with cocoa butter cream. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2010;108(1):65–8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2009.08.008
  • Osman H, Rubeiz N, Tamim H, Nassar AH. Risk Factors for the development of striae gravidarum. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007;196(1):62.e1–e5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2006.08.044. 
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  • 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.

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