A very common misconception about stretch marks is that women are the only ones who get them, this simply isn’t true. Whilst women do experience stretch marks more than men, guys aren’t immune and lifestyle factors and events like puberty, rapid weight gain or loss and bodybuilding can all heighten the risk of stretch marks appearing. We’re going to take a look at why this happens, how to prevent them and how to get rid of them.
What are stretch marks and what causes them?
Before we get into how to prevent and get rid of stretch marks, it’s important to know what they are and why they occur. Generally, they will appear at first as narrow, jagged purple or red lines that may be a little itchy. Eventually (over a few years) they will fade to a less noticeable grey or silver colour and will be a slightly depressed scar.
Stretch marks occur when the collagen and elastin in the dermis, your second and middle layer of skin, is ruptured and torn during a time of rapid contraction or expansion of the skin. Basically, the skin is stretched too quickly to accommodate for the change and stretch marks are the damage that appears.
For men, the most common places they will experience stretch marks in adolescence are the buttocks, back, thighs and calves. In adult men, they’re most likely to get stretch marks only on their buttocks and, unfortunately, if your family is more prone to them then you’ll be more likely to experience them.
Stretch marks are most likely to occur during:
- Puberty (growth spurts)
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Rapid muscle growth (bodybuilding, weight training)
Stretch marks aren’t a health concern of any kind and are ultimately harmless but they can greatly affect self-confidence for the affected individual. It’s important to remember that anyone can get stretch marks and sometimes you simply can’t avoid them, but there are definitely ways to try and prevent them – which we’re going to take a look into now.
How to prevent stretch marks
Before stretch marks even take hold, there’s a few lifestyle changes you can make to your everyday routine to make your body as repellent to them as possible. If you know you’re going to be going through a stage of life where the possibility of stretch marks is heightened, then you can implement a few of the below tips and tricks to prevent them.
This is an important point for everyday life, but it’s even more important when it comes to preventing stretch marks. Hydrated skin is soft skin and soft skin is less likely to get stretch marks because it’s supple and elastic (stretch marks prefer dry skin). Around 3.7 litres of water a day is the daily recommended intake for men.
Eat a healthy diet
A diet full of healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, etc.) will ensure your skin is moisturised and hydrated from the inside out, allowing it to stretch correctly and with more ease when the body is growing rapidly. Getting enough of vitamins A, C, E and zinc will also help your skin stay healthy and supple – so make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and veggies everyday.
Watch your weight
The leading cause of stretch marks is weight gain, so it stands to reason that controlling your weight in a healthy and safe way will help to prevent stretch marks. If you are needing to put on or lose weight for whatever reason, be sure to do it gradually so that your skin isn’t put under any unnecessary strain that could result in stretch marks. Talk to your doctor to get an idea of what this should look like.
When bodybuilding or weight training, you need to make sure that your workouts are spread evenly across all your muscle groups. This is to avoid targeting and growing a specific muscle group too quickly, resulting in stretch marks. You can also try doing more reps at a lower rate for a more sustainable growth rate.
Moisturising day and night will help your skin accommodate your muscle growth. Steer clear of using illegal steroids as they’re known to promote stretch marks through accelerated muscle growth.
Different ways to get rid of stretch marks
As mentioned earlier, some men are more prone to stretch marks through their genetics, and in some situations, stretch marks are simply unavoidable (and completely natural!). So let’s take a deep dive into exactly what can be done if you do get stretch marks and you want to get rid of them.
Stretch mark creams
There are so many different types of creams, lotions, gels and oils on the market right now that it’s a bit of a nightmare to navigate. Everyone is different, so it’s all about finding out which kinds of ingredients work best for your body but be sure to look out for products with natural ingredients as much as possible to ensure you’re healing your body without too many chemicals.
The key to getting rid of stretch marks is treating them as soon as they appear. Fresher stretch marks respond better to treatment than mature ones that have already started to fade into silver or grey shades. Exfoliating lightly before applying your desired cream morning and night will allow the dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin to be removed so the treatment can penetrate as deeply as possible. Be sure to stay consistent with the treatment and keep in mind that it can take weeks for results to appear.
Here are some great ingredients to look out for in your stretch mark products:
- Aloe Vera
- Cocoa butter
- Shea Butter
- Tretinoin (vitamin A derivative that promotes collagen and elastin production)
- Lavender oil
- Lemon juice
- Coconut oil
- Vitamins A, D and E
You can read our review of the top rated stretch mark creams here.
If you’re looking for a more natural remedy for mild, newer stretch marks that you can do at home, then there are a heap of great options available to you. Here’s a few of the most popular plus a bit of insight into how they work and how to use them effectively.
Aloe vera gel is one of the most effective natural remedies for stretch marks because of its vitamin C, E and collagen – which is exactly what’s ruptured originally when stretch marks appear. Aloe vera will nourish and replenish the skin so it can heal itself over time. To use it, you can buy yourself an aloe vera plant and apply the fresh gel straight onto your stretch marks morning and night, leave for 30 minutes and then wash it off with warm water.
If you’re wanting something a little easier, you can grab some pure aloe vera gel from a pharmacy. Leave it in the fridge when its not in use and the coolness will help to soothe any itching you may be experiencing with your stretch marks.
Another powerhouse natural remedy for fading stretch marks is the humble egg, more specifically, the egg white. Egg whites contain over 40 proteins plus vitamin A and amino acids to encourage collagen activation and reconstruction.
Twice a day, whip a couple of egg whites and apply a thick layer to the affected skin. Simply leave for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off and moisturising. Super easy to do and you should see results within a few weeks.
Another everyday staple in your kitchen that has stretch mark healing superpowers. The reason lemons are so effective at fading scars is due to the alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) that exfoliate the skin gently and encourage fresh cells to produce and surface. The added benefit of vitamin C will aid collagen production as it’s an essential building block in its make-up.
To use this, cut a lemon in half and rub it gently on your stretch marks, squeezing it to get as much juice on the area as possible. Leave it to absorb for 15 minutes and then wash with cold water (warm water may damage the vitamin C).
You wouldn’t think that an oil could work as an exfoliant, but olive oil is here to prove it can. This pantry item will gently and effectively moisturise your skin with a load of nutrients and antioxidants.
To use it, simply massage it all over the affected areas (perhaps something your partner could help with!) to increase blood flow and circulation. You can leave it on for about half an hour before washing it off with some warm water and gentle soap.
What can’t coconut oil do? In recent years it’s been touted as the cure-all for health and beauty related issues – so it’s no wonder it’s ended up on this list. Coconut oil contains fatty acids which are known to improve skin elasticity and cell regeneration. It’s a great natural moisturiser and is best used combined with a collagen-boosting ingredient like rosehip seed oil or lemon.
Simply mix your chosen ingredient with a couple teaspoons of coconut oil and apply onto the affected areas morning and night for 10 minutes. Wash off and moisturise after with plain coconut oil for silky smooth, hydrated skin and stretch marks that will fade over time.
If your stretch marks are really affecting your self-confidence, or if you have older stretch marks that just aren’t budging and you want to try absolutely everything to get rid of them, then cosmetic procedures may be the way to go. As with all procedures of this nature there may be some side effects, so be sure you weigh this up before getting them done and consult your dermatologist before doing so.
Generally, laser therapy is the most effective way to remove or reduce stretch mark appearance. They work by sending laser light and heat into the skin to burn off the upper skin layer, creating a micro-injury and encouraging the body to heal itself. Collagen, elastin and melanin production are all stimulated to heal and fill in the stretch marks so they blend into the unaffected skin surrounding them.
This is the most intense form of laser therapy that is most effective on stubborn stretch marks, but it can have negative side effects so be sure you speak to your dermatologist about this before giving it a go. Other less extreme laser therapies will penetrate under the skin’s surface with low-level light without burning it to encourage the body to produce more collagen in these areas – best used on newer stretch marks.
This kind of cosmetic procedure is generally painless and doesn’t come with any side effects. It works by spraying tiny exfoliating crystals onto the affected areas, a device is then used to remove them from the skin, taking all the dead cells with them and encouraging your body to grow new ones to replace them – pretty cool, right? As this procedure is quite mild and only targets the upper layer of skin (epidermis), you will need a few sessions before you start seeing results. This would work on milder, newer stretch marks best.
Targeting the dermis, the layer of skin where your stretch marks are, microneedling involves tiny needles being poked into your skin to promote collagen production. The collagen will then begin to fill and repair your stretch marks and hopefully reduce their appearance after a few sessions.
Let’s face it, stretch marks happen to a lot of men at some point in their lives, they’re natural, normal and harmless. But that doesn’t mean they won’t affect your self-confidence and it’s definitely okay to want to get rid of them. Whether you’ve got new stretch marks or ones that have settled into your skin over the years, there’s definitely a remedy, procedure or product out there that can help you fade them.
Remember that consistency is key when it comes to stretch marks, perseverance will get you the results you need and want but always speak to your dermatologist for the best way forward.
Writer, Product Tester.
Adele is a budding content writer with a passion for all things health and fitness related. In her time off Adele enjoys reading, travelling and exploring Sydney’s culinary delights.