Who gets stretch marks?
Stretch marks occur in certain areas of the body where skin is subjected to continuous and progressive stretching. Stretch marks can also occur from prolonged use of oral or topical corticosteroids. They are also a feature of the disease Cushing's syndrome, where increased adrenal cortical activity i.e. excessive circulating cortisol is implicated in their development.
About 90% of pregnant women get stretch marks. Growth spurts and sudden or excessive weight gain cause stretch marks in young people. They affect 70% of adolescent females and about 40% of young males. Young women commonly get them on their breasts, thighs, hips, abdomen and buttocks. Young people often develop stretch marks from participating in certain body-altering sports such as weightlifting or from the use of dangerous bodybuilding steroid drugs.
Stretch marks often appear on the breast and abdomen during pregnancy. The reason is partly hormonal. During pregnancy, hormones have the job of softening the collagen ligaments of the pelvis, so that the tissues can stretch easily during childbirth. Unfortunately, the skin collagen softens as well, allowing stretch marks to form easily.
Some women have weaker collagen than others, so are more likely to get stretch marks. Recent research suggests that if you have stretch marks, your pelvic floor ligaments may be slightly weak, so it is very important to do pelvic floor exercises after childbirth to prevent incontinence of urine.
Bodybuilders and yo-yo dieters can also get stretch marks on the upper arms, chest and thighs. Growing adolescents can get them on their backs, looking like a series of horizontal lines.