What are stretch marks on the belly?
Stretch marks on the abdomen are a band of stripes or cracks across the skin of the abdomen - they usually have a pink or blue-violet colour when they first appear. Over time, they fade in colour and become more white or the same colour as the surrounding skin.
Stretch marks on the abdomen, like anywhere else on the body, are an injury that occurs in your subcutaneous tissue. In Latin, stretch marks are called striae. They are not dangerous but can be a cosmetic problem.
When an injury occurs in the deeper layers of the skin, it will show up as the cracked appearance of your outer skin. It is therefore a kind of scar that will follow you for the rest of your life. Because once you have stretch marks on your abdomen, they never really go away.
Even though they will be your constant companion, that doesn't mean you can't minimise their visibility. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do so - and we'll tell you more about it in this article.
Firstly, you should know why stretch marks appear on your stomach in the first place.
Why are stretch marks appearing on your belly?
Stretch marks don't appear out of thin air. They occur because the elastic fibres in your subcutaneous tissue are overloaded and overstretched. The fibres and your skin are generally very elastic and can withstand a lot of stretching - without damage to the subcutaneous tissue.
However, there are limits to how much the skin and elastic fibres can withstand. If there is an extreme overstretching of the skin and fibres, they become so overstretched that they can no longer withstand the pressure.
Similar to an elastic that is overstretched, the elastic fibres will become slack and lose their elasticity. Once they become loose, they can't regain their former strength. And that means you'll get that cracked look on your tummy if that's where the skin has been overstretched.
Rapid weight gain
The elastic fibres expand too quickly and excessively to keep up if you gain a lot of weight over a short period of time. This is why being overweight can be a common cause of stretch marks on your stomach.
So can pregnancy, where you typically gain weight. During pregnancy, your belly grows with the baby in a relatively short period of time.
The elasticity of the fibres is significantly stretched during pregnancy, which is why many pregnant women get stretch marks on their abdomen - especially towards the end of pregnancy, when the elastic fibres can no longer keep up with the expansion.
Up to 90% of all pregnant women experience stretch marks to a greater or lesser extent. Stretch marks are most common in multiple pregnancies (more than one fetus in the womb), overweight pregnant women, younger pregnant women and pregnant women with a lot of amniotic fluid.
Sudden weight loss
In the same way that rapid weight gain can cause stretch marks across the abdomen, so can sudden and rapid weight loss.
The skin 'cracks' in the same way, because the elastic fibres cannot keep up with the changes, even if you lose a lot of weight.
Growth during puberty or weight training
During adolescence and puberty, the body undergoes a period of rapid growth. The body grows significantly and fat stores expand. This significant and rapid growth can cause stretch marks on your stomach.
It's not only during puberty that the body can grow at lightning speed. The same can happen if you do a lot of intensive weight training with heavy weights, where the muscles grow rapidly.
Elastic fibres can also be affected by hormonal changes.
Puberty and pregnancy are often times of major hormonal changes that can affect the elasticity of the fibres.
Genes and skin type
Why do some people get stretch marks while others avoid them? Genetics can play a significant role here. Some people have a "strong" skin type with elastic fibres, while others have less.
This is also why you can often look at your mum's stomach to see if she has stretch marks (for example after pregnancy). There's a good chance you'll have them too.
What to do about belly stretch marks?
For many people, stretch marks on the abdomen are a cosmetic problem. Especially in the summer, many dread getting into their swimsuits with their cracked tummy skin.
If you have stretch marks on your stomach, you will have to learn to live with them to some extent. But that doesn't mean you can't make them much less visible, so that you and others hardly notice them.
We'll guide you through different options to reduce the appearance of cracks on your abdominal skin.
Minimise the visability of stretch marks on your abdomen with good quality skin care products
With the right use of skin care products on your tummy, you can reduce the appearance of stretch marks. For example, you can use Body Oil, a nourishing and caring oil packed with active ingredients.
Moisturised skin is healthy skin that is more resilient, and moisturisation and vitamin E are particularly important for improving the appearance of stretch marks on your stomach and elsewhere on your body.
75% of test subjects with stretch marks found that their stretch marks became less visible.
Use the oil regularly
When you use the oil, don't expect it to work overnight. It requires diligent use and patience. It takes time to improve the appearance of your skin. Apply 1-2 times a day - only after 12-20 weeks can you expect to see results.
Massage a few drops of oil into your skin in circular motions and let it dry completely before getting dressed.
Reduce the appearance of stretch marks with laser
To make your stretch marks less visible, you can resort to laser treatment.
The fraxel laser is particularly suitable for repairing stretch marks. The laser makes small, controlled 'injuries' in the subcutaneous tissue, while leaving the outer layer of skin intact.
The skin kick-starts a process of repairing the damage and activating the elastic fibres. In this way, the skin regenerates and becomes more uniform in appearance.
More advice for avoiding stretch marks
Stretch marks appear when they appear - without warning. That's why it can be difficult to avoid them. However, there are a number of tips to help you prevent them.
- Eat healthily and exercise daily. If you eat a healthy and varied diet combined with daily exercise, you can keep excess weight at bay. This way, you can avoid obesity-related stretch marks on your stomach.
- Take care of your skin. With creams and oils, you can nourish your skin and provide it with optimal conditions to stay moisturised, resistant and supple. Creams and oils have not been scientifically proven to prevent stretch marks, but many people still find that their skin feels more elastic.
- Quit smoking. Smoking contributes to poorer conditions for your skin. It can affect wound healing and make your skin looser and less supple.