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Stretch marks

What is it ?

Small whitish, pinkish or purplish streaks visible on the skin, stretch marks are most often found on the thighs, hips, stomach, buttocks or chest.

What are the causes?

Stretch marks result from the rupture of elastic fibres in the dermis, when the skin has exceeded its capacity to stretch. The appearance of stretch marks occurs for several reasons:


At puberty, the body secretes more cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. The release of large quantities of cortisol blocks the action of fibroblasts ¬– the cells that support connective tissue – and thus reduces collagen production. The skin's flexibility and stretching ability is reduced, while the body quickly sculpts itself into new shapes. Stretch marks can appear on certain areas, such as the thighs and buttocks.

High cortisol levels

Aside from during puberty, cortisol may be present in high levels for various reasons. The adrenal glands produce more or too much cortisol during chronic stress as in the second trimester of pregnancy or in the case of certain diseases such as Cushing's syndrome. The higher the cortisol level, the lower the collagen production. The skin then loses its suppleness and elasticity and stretch marks may appear.


Between 50 and 70% of women notice the appearance of stretch marks during their first pregnancy, mainly on the stomach and chest. In addition to varying cortisol production, pregnancy stretches the skin quickly and intensely. Put to the test, elastic fibres at some point reach their maximum stretch capacity, which can then create stretch marks.

Weight fluctuations

Rapid weight gain, significant weight loss or increased muscle mass can cause stretch marks to appear. Because the fibres have been quickly stretched and/or strained, the alteration of the skin structure reveals stretch marks.


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