You have probably wondered whether or not you will end up with stretch marks after losing weight. These unsightly reminders of heavier days (yes, they are a sign of losing weight) can be really frustrating, especially when your goal is to feel good in your bikini body once again. Don’t worry, though; you can successfully lose weight without having to deal with stretch marks afterwards.
Causes of stretch marks
Also known as striae , stretch marks are a type of scar that develops when the skin stretches or tears. It’s mostly linked to pregnancy and weight gain; however, weight loss can also play a significant role. This may surprise most people as the skin during weight loss is shrinking and not stretching. Below, we’ve rounded up a few reasons why weight loss contributes to the formation of stretch marks.
Pre-existing stretch marks: While the skin functions as the body’s first layer of protection, it can also be susceptible to change. As you gain weight, marks and scars will form. And as you lose weight rapidly, stretch marks will appear. In some cases, it’s not rapid weight loss that causes stretch marks. They can be just pre-existing stretch marks caused by gaining weight and only become apparent until you lose weight and your body shrinks.
Excess skin: If you’ve shed all the extra pounds, you may have to deal with excess skin afterwards. This excess skin can weigh down other areas of your skin, thereby causing stretch marks. It specifically pulls on healthy skin, so if you don’t want your healthy skin to undergo stretching, tearing, and scarring, use a stretch mark prevention cream while trying to lose weight.
Muscle gain: Besides excess skin, rapid muscle development can also be a culprit. If you lose weight through strength training, your skin stretches to accommodate larger muscles. When that happens, your skin becomes vulnerable to stretch marks.
Excessive weight loss: Rapid changes in the skin’s shape can contribute to stretch marks. Losing five pounds in a week can, for example, trigger your body to produce hormones that affect its production of collagen. When your collagen production is low, your skin may weaken and become prone to stretch marks.
Signs of stretch marks
Before stretch marks form, you may notice that your skin may appear thin. You may also notice that your skin gets itchy.
Depending on your skin color, fresh stretch marks can appear pink, red, reddish-brown, or dark brown. But, over time, they fade to pale pink and become thinner. These wrinkly, streaky lines can develop on your hips, thighs, abdomen, upper arms, lower back, breasts, and buttocks.
But these unsightly, often-vertical lines aren’t permanent. Some wonder whether they can get rid of their stretch marks for good. The good news is that you can reduce stretch marks’ appearance, even without any major treatment. Your skin slowly repairs the tears caused by rapid weight loss and, over time, the streaks turn white and become less apparent.
How to prevent stretch marks
You may know people who don’t have stretch marks even after rapid weight loss. This is because genetics can play a factor. If your birth parents never had stretch marks, you are less likely to experience them, too. But even if you’re not that blessed in the genetics department, there are ways you can follow to avoid stretch marks.
- Lose weight at a weight-loss doctor-approved pace.
Arguably the best stretch mark prevention is to lose weight at a weight-loss doctor-approved pace and not rapidly. This is because stretch marks develop when the skin shrinks quickly. Many opinions exist about how much weight to lose, but it is recommended to consult your doctor, which is best for you.
- Try to gain muscle at a sustained pace instead of very quickly.
As mentioned, your skin stretches when hyperextending or working out to make room for larger muscles. The more you gain muscles rapidly, the more your skin has to stretch and the more stretch marks you’ll likely have to deal with. So, aim to achieve muscles slowly and gradually throughout your strength training.
- Soak up some Vitamin D.
The humble sunshine can also help with stretch mark prevention. However, you have to be extra cautious when it comes to direct sunlight exposure. It would help if you also kept in mind not to get dehydrated or too overheated. With this in mind, getting enough sunshine can give you the boost of vitamin D needed to avoid stretch marks while losing weight.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Moisturizers help your skin stretch more easily without causing too much damage. They also hydrate your skin from the outside in. There are some moisturizers specifically formulated to prevent stretch marks when losing weight and carrying a baby. These products generally contain ingredients that assist in the production of collagen. For best results, choose moisturizers that are non-greasy, retinoid-free, paraben-free, and phthalate-free as they can effectively prevent stretch marks.
- Eat well.
A healthy diet is an essential part of your overall well-being. It helps achieve a sharp mind, a slim body, and healthy skin. This includes making it harder for stretch marks to form when losing weight.
Wondering which foods to add to your diet? Start with citrus fruits and red and green vegetables. Also, eating low-fat food items like fish, nuts, and avocados are also a good place to start. These foods encourage collagen production. Hence, ensuring you consume these foods is vital toward avoiding the formation of stretch marks.
- Hydrate yourself.
A proper level of hydration is beneficial when losing when or participating in strength training. It helps prevent swelling and fatigue. If you become dehydrated while losing weight, it can interrupt your weight loss efforts. In fact, dehydration can cause you to eat more. However, if you are well hydrated, it can suppress your appetite and help you burn more calories. More than that, your skin becomes well hydrated and softer, making you less likely to develop stretch marks.
To make sure that you stay hydrated, always keep a water bottle with you at all times.