Preventing stretch marks 

Stretch marks are very common and can't always be prevented.

However, the following advice may help reduce your risk of developing stretch marks.

Healthy weight

Gaining weight rapidly over a short period of time is one of the most common causes of stretch marks.

Dieting that results in your weight quickly going up and down  so-called "yo-yo dieting"  can cause stretch marks. Therefore, avoiding rapid weight gain and weight loss can help prevent stretch marks occurring.

If you need to lose weight, you should do it slowly by eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly. You shouldn't lose more than 0.5kg (1lb) a week.

Read more about how to lose weight safely.

Diet

It's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet that's rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E, vitamin C, and the minerals zinc and silicon. These vitamins and minerals will help keep your skin healthy.

A balanced diet will provide all the vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Dietary supplements aren't needed to prevent stretch marks developing.

During pregnancy

Stretch marks that occur during pregnancy (striae gravidarum) are usually due to hormonal changes that affect your skin. Gaining pregnancy weight steadily may help minimise the effect of stretch marks.

During pregnancy it's normal for a woman 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.

You don't need to go on a special diet if you're pregnant, but you should eat a variety of foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients for you and your baby. Your diet should be rich in wholewheat carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta, as well as fruit and vegetables.

Read more about diet during pregnancy

During pregnancy, your weight gain should be slow and gradual. The amount of weight you put on will depend on the weight you were before you became pregnant. It's normal to gain 1-2kg (2.2-4.4lb) over the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.

As a rough guide, during pregnancy, women who are:

  • underweight (have a BMI of less than 18.5) should gain 12.7-18.1kg (28-40lb)
  • a normal weight (have a BMI of 18.5-24.9) should gain 11.3-15.9kg (25-35lb)
  • overweight (have a BMI of more than 25) should gain 6.8-11.3kg (15-25lb)
  • obese (have a BMI of more than 30) should gain 5-9.1kg (11-20lb).

Speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor if you're worried about not gaining weight at a healthy rate, or if you're concerned about your stretch marks.


Are you overweight?

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure most people can use to check whether their weight is healthy in relation to their height and build.

For most adults, an ideal BMI score is 18.5-24.9.

You can use the BMI healthy weight calculator to find out whether you're overweight.

Page last reviewed: 17/07/2014

Next review due: 17/07/2016