Stretch marks

Synonyms in a broader sense

Stretch marks, striae distensea, striae gravidarum, striae rubrae


  • stretch marks
  • striae
  • striation of pregnancy


Stretch marks are a physiological form of stretch marks that appear during pregnancy. Stretch marks are phenomena in the subcutaneous tissue (Subcutis) caused by excessive stretching of the tissue. During pregnancy, the skin fibers tear open due to the rapid stretching, especially in the areas of the abdomen, chest, thighs, hips and buttocks. The visible bluish shimmering cracks are caused by the blood vessels lying under the skin showing through.


Stretch marks join 70 to 90 percent of all pregnant women, especially those women who are very young or not expecting their first child.


Causes of the formation of stretch marks

The connective tissue in the dermis consists of a network of collagen-containing fibers and ensures that the skin remains elastic. If this is overstretched, the individual fibers separate and fine, irreparable tears develop in the subcutaneous tissue, which become visible on the surface as reddish blue stripes. These are known as stretch marks; if they arose during pregnancy, accordingly as stretch marks. In the course of pregnancy, the skin expands more and more; it is particularly stressed in the areas of the abdomen, chest, buttocks and thighs, which is why the streaks occur mainly here. As a rule, they are only visible from the 16th week of pregnancy and occur increasingly and mostly towards the end of pregnancy. During pregnancy, the female body secretes more of the hormone cortisol, which also reduces the elasticity of the skin.

Read more about when does the belly grow during pregnancy?

However, even outside of pregnancy, various influences can lead to the development of stretch marks, which are nevertheless often referred to colloquially as stretch marks because of the same appearance. These include growth (during puberty), rapid weight gain, strong and rapid muscle building (in the context of bodybuilding) or the use of certain medications (glucocorticoids, which include cortisol). The stripes can also be a symptom of illnesses such as obesity or Cushing's syndrome (Overproduction of cortisol by the body).

Predisposing factors include weak connective tissue, overweight, excessive weight gain during pregnancy, multiple pregnancy (as the tissue is particularly stretched here) and a lack of physical activity before and during pregnancy.

When do stretch marks develop?

Unlike is often assumed, stretch marks do not only develop during pregnancy. Above all, strong fluctuations in weight, very rapid muscle building - for example in bodybuilding - or pubertal growth cause stretch marks outside of pregnancy.
A major cause for this is the overstretching of the skin. As a result, stretch marks develop. During pregnancy, stretch marks are especially visible at the end of the second trimester. Furthermore, stretch marks can occur during cortisone therapy. However, it is not possible to determine an exact point in time during therapy.


The Stretch marks can be found in the skin areas that are most affected by overstretching. They usually run from top to bottom on the stomach, to the Breasts they are mostly radiating to nipple arranged towards. As a rule, the strips are one to several centimeters long and up to two centimeters wide, and in some cases they can also develop into very wide cracks. They have an uneven surface and are initially red to blue and fade until they finally only shimmer silvery-white.

Stretch marks on the chest

The chest, as well as the abdomen or thighs, can be affected by stretch marks or stretch marks. These can arise as the breasts grow during puberty or when the breast increases in size during pregnancy.
It is the same type of skin change that is found on the abdomen or thighs. They usually run in a semicircle towards the areola and are perceived by many women as very uncomfortable. It is not entirely clear why some women tend to have unsightly stretch marks very strongly and others less so.
The stretching of the skin plays a very important role in this context. Regular massages during pregnancy are especially important to prevent the streak on the breast. Skin oils can also be used to prevent the strip and care for the skin.
However, should stretch marks develop, they can be removed not only from the stomach, but also from the chest. Common methods are laser treatment, micro-needling or microdermabrasion. These treatments do not affect the mother's ability to breastfeed and pose no danger to the child.

Stretch marks on the buttocks

Stretch marks can also appear on the buttocks. During pregnancy, the skin is stretched in this area due to natural weight gain. Furthermore, other mechanisms are responsible for stretch marks in pregnancy. Unfortunately, these also affect the thighs and buttocks.
Outside of pregnancy, strong fluctuations in weight are primarily responsible for stretch marks on the buttocks. In addition, bodybuilding also plays a role in the development of stretch marks on the buttocks. Strong muscle growth in this area - as is often desirable - often leads to stretch marks.

Stretch marks itch - what's behind them?

When stretch marks itch during pregnancy, there can be a number of different causes behind them. Unfortunately, itching is not an all-too-uncommon symptom and many women are affected by it.
The itching can be caused by a so-called pregnancy dermatosis, i.e. a skin disease. There are different pregnancy dermatoses that are treated differently. However, itching can also have a completely different cause, which is why the cause and the therapy should always be clarified with a doctor.
In many cases, no clear cause can be assigned, so purely symptomatic treatment with oils and soothing creams is carried out.Since itching is a very unspecific symptom that often occurs during pregnancy without a tangible cause, many women feel a certain amount of frustration - especially when they don't get better. One consolation remains, however - after delivery, the itching often improves suddenly.


A pregnant woman usually makes the "diagnosis" of stretch marks on the basis of the characteristic narrow reddish-blue stripes, although a doctor or midwife can of course be consulted if in doubt.

How can you remove stretch marks?

Stretch marks, also known as stretch marks, are a stressful and often uncomfortable subject for many people. There is therefore a great demand for various methods of removing stretch marks. But how can you remove stretch marks and which methods really help?
The following section is intended to provide an overview of various methods for removing stretch marks.

One possibility is laser treatment. This should be done in experienced skin clinics and skin practices and is one way to effectively treat stretch marks. The result to be expected, however, is not a complete removal of the stripes, but an optical improvement.
The streaks are reduced to a minimum, but complete removal is almost never possible. Nevertheless, the result can be visually very satisfactory. A so-called Fraxel laser is often used. This laser does not treat a flat piece of skin, but hits many small treatment points between which untreated pieces of skin lie. This results in quick healing, minimal swelling and very slight redness after the treatment. The skin is still slightly reddened about a week after the treatment, but there are no symptoms. General anesthesia is also not necessary.
The laser weakens the scars on the stretch marks and makes them fade. In addition, the formation of new collagen is stimulated so that the skin looks firmer and healthier overall. One session is not enough, however. Depending on the nature of the skin and the extent of the stretch marks, 3 to 8 sessions are usually necessary for a satisfactory result. The meetings take place every 3 to 4 weeks. The patient costs around 75 to 100 euros per session.

Another option to tackle stretch marks is micro-needling. This relatively new method of treatment sounds painful at first, even though it isn't.
The skin on the affected areas is treated with a roller-shaped needle-fitted device. Before the treatment, there is a local anesthetic with a cream so that the treatment is almost painless.
In addition, ointments with skin-tightening ingredients are applied to the skin. Then the skin is treated with the needle roller. The tiny stitches stimulate blood circulation, regeneration and cell renewal. In addition, more hyaluronic acid and collagen are formed. The stretch marks become flatter and narrower, and the skin appears tighter and plumper overall. In addition, the color of the stretch marks adapts more to the natural skin color.
Similar to laser treatment, micro-needling is not done in one session. Around 2 to 5 sessions are necessary every 4 weeks in order to achieve a satisfactory result. There are still reactions in the stretch marks up to 4 months after a completed treatment, so that only then can the final result be assessed.
The costs for a session can be between 80 and 450 euros, depending on the complexity of the treatment. There may be redness and bruising a few days after treatment. To avoid hyperpigmentation of the treated skin areas, the sun should be avoided for at least a week.

Another method available is microdermabrasion, a relatively new procedure that is also used to remove stretch marks.
The affected skin is sucked in with a special nozzle. At the same time, very fine crystals are applied to the skin, which gently remove the top layer of skin. The effectiveness of this treatment is that the removal of the top layer of skin gives the skin an incentive to renew.
This creates new cells that replace the old material. Little by little, the stretch marks adapt to the surrounding skin. The treatment lasts approximately 30 to 60 minutes and must be repeated approximately 4 to 6 times in order to achieve satisfactory results. There should be an interval of around 4 weeks between two sessions. The cost per session is around 80 to 150 euros.

There is also a large number of scar care oils, nourishing creams and lotions. These are gentle and far less expensive than laser treatment, but unfortunately you have to be realistic about the expected result. Such products cannot make stretch marks disappear, although this is often communicated by manufacturers. They are better suited for prevention. Once the strips are in place, most products don't have much of an effect.

Read more on the topic: Removal of stretch marks

Oil against stretch marks

A common - and also quite useful - tip against stretch marks is the use of oil. But which oil does this mean and how should it be used? Suitable skin oils, which mainly contain vitamin E, can be purchased in almost any pharmacy.
When used properly, they help prevent stretch marks. However, once the stripes are there, they can hardly contribute to any improvement. It is therefore important to start prophylaxis at the beginning of pregnancy. The skin oils should be massaged daily into the problem areas, i.e. stomach, breasts and thighs. A plucking massage is recommended.
Ingredients such as ivy, lady's mantle, and horsetail have also shown positive effects in preventing stretch marks. It is best to seek advice from a pharmacist about suitable products. Refrain from expensive products on the Internet that promise you a kind of miracle cure. Unfortunately, you have to be realistic. Skin oils cannot make stretch marks go away, no matter what the ingredients. That's because they can't penetrate as deeply into the skin to achieve the desired effect. However, there is one preventive effect.

How can you prevent stretch marks?

Once stretch marks have developed, only medical treatments can help against the unsightly skin marks.
However, you can do a lot yourself to prevent the unpleasant streak - also known as striae. While preventive measures cannot 100% prevent stretch marks, the likelihood of the streaks occurring can be significantly reduced.
Consistent skin massage during pregnancy will help prevent the streaks. A so-called plucking massage is recommended. To do this, rub some skin oil or cream between your hands and apply it from the outside to the inside on the stomach and breasts. You perform pinching movements with your fingers as if you were pinching your skin. However, the massage shouldn't be painful
in skin oil containing vitamin E or creams with ivy, lady's mantle and horsetail extracts seem to have a preventive effect. The massages can be repeated at will and should be carried out consistently throughout the pregnancy and afterwards. Brush massages and alternating showers also seem to have a protective effect. Furthermore, large fluctuations in weight should be avoided, as these put additional strain on the skin.

Read more on the subject: Prevent stretch marks


Once the stretch marks are in place, they will never go away completely. During pregnancy, the stretch marks appear as reddish to blue cracks, but after birth This coloring usually fades, so that only light, white, shiny scars remain visible. The damage to the skin lasts for a lifetime, but it is only a cosmetic problem. However, there are certain measures that can help prevent stretch marks. (see also preventing stretch marks)

Can you tattoo over stretch marks?

In principle, stretch marks can be tattooed over. There is no harm to health or the like from the tattoo. However, many tattoo artists find stretch mark work to be problematic.
There is always the risk that the color will run through the scarring and the result will not look as desired. Therefore, some tattooists - also for self-protection - refrain from tattoos on stretch marks.
Large area tattoos are seen as less of a problem in this case, as they are better suited for covering up the stripes. The risk of running contours is also lower here.


Stretch marks occur in almost all pregnant women and are not dangerous, but they are dangerous for many of those affected mental stressbecause they suffer from this blemish. However, following a few things like a healthy diet, exercise, personal hygiene, and massage can reduce the risk of intense stretch marks. The above measures can also reduce existing stretch marks, but they will not go away completely.