Stretch marks are a normal part of growing for many men and women. They can occur during puberty, pregnancy, or rapid muscle or weight gain.

Stretch marks are not likely to go away on their own. However, there are ways that you can lessen their appearance.

Many treatments have been created to get rid of stretch marks (also called striae distensae) and marketed as being successful in doing so. However, in most cases, stretch marks never really completely go away.

There are types of treatments done by dermatologists or plastic surgeons that can dramatically reduce the appearance of stretch marks. They tend to be expensive and are not usually covered by medical insurance. Those treatments include:

If you have stretch marks, you’re not alone. Stretch marks are very common for people of all ages. If your stretch marks are a cosmetic issue for you, there are ways you can hide them or improve their appearance.

  1. Use self-tanners. Sunless self-tanners can help to fill in the color of your stretch marks and make them appear closer to the same color as the rest of your skin. However, regular tanning will not help as well because it can negatively affect the health of your skin. Also, stretch marks are less likely to tan.
  2. Use makeup. If you just want to cover up some of your stretch marks for a day or a night, using a foundation makeup that matches your skin tone can help hide your stretch marks.
  3. Use topical cream or ointment. There are many topical creams that claim to help make stretch marks go away. Be sure to read reviews and find out what is and isn’t working for people.
  4. Wear clothes with more coverage. Wearing long sleeves or longer pants can cover up areas that are affected by stretch marks.

Stretch marks happen naturally when rapid growth causes internal tearing. Although skin is elastic, if it’s overstretched in a short span of time, the result is often internal tears that form scars known as stretch marks.

Stretch marks are common during the following situations:

When stretch marks first appear, they are called striae rubrae. This is when the stretch marks appear red and perpendicular to the area of the skin that is stretched. After the stretch marks fade, they are called striae albae.

A 2012 study on topical preventions for stretch marks showed that there was no difference in stretch mark development in women who received topical prevention ointments or lotion versus those that received placebos or no treatment.

Stretch marks are very common, but the appearance may be lessened by using self-tanners, makeup, ointments, or surgical treatment.

Sometimes when the cause of the stretching is no longer a factor, stretch marks will disappear, but in most cases, over time, they fade to a less noticeable scar.