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Stretch marks are stripes or streaks that occur when the skin is stretched. They’re a very normal occurrence. Nearly everyone has stretch marks. It’s common for stretch marks to occur on the breasts as well as other areas of the body.

Stretch marks are often a pinkish, purple, or red color when they first form. They typically fade to a paler or whiter color over time.

There are different types of stretch marks. They’re categorized by how long you’ve had them and their cause. The types include:

  • Striae atrophica. These are very common stretch marks. The breakdown of elastin or collagen components in the skin causes this type.
  • Striae distensae. These occur most often during puberty. They typically involve linear lines that may look like stripes.
  • Striae gravidarum. This type only occurs during pregnancy.
  • Vergetures. These are long, specifically patterned stretch marks that resembles a whip’s lashings.

There are a number of different things that can cause or increase your likelihood for developing stretch marks on your breasts.

Puberty

Hormonal changes that occur during puberty can trigger a rapid growth of breast tissue. As the breast tissue increases, the skin stretches. The thinning of the skin can lead to stretch marks on the breasts.

Stretch marks are a normal part of puberty for many girls. Some may also notice stretch marks on their thighs, hips, and butt.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is another exceptionally common cause of stretch marks on the breasts.

About six weeks into pregnancy, the breasts will start to grow as increased estrogen levels trigger breast growth and the growth of milk ducts. Some may notice a breast increase of up to two cup sizes. This quick growth can result in stretch marks.

Weight gain and loss

Women who gain weight will often notice that the fat tissue in their breasts also increases. As their breast size increases, stretch marks can occur.

Though fat tissue decreases if you experience weight loss, stretch marks on the breasts can still occur. This is caused by a loss of collagen that can happen during weight loss, resulting in the loss of skin elasticity.

Cosmetic surgery

Breast implants and augmentation procedures can stretch the skin — either by adding implants or repositioning the breast tissue — and result in stretch marks. This is particularly common in those who are getting breast implants more than one cup size larger than their non-altered size.

Genetics

Stretch marks themselves aren’t inherited. But if your parents have stretch marks, you’re more likely to develop them, too.

The ELN gene, which determines elastin, was found to be most predictive of whether or not an individual would develop stretch marks.

Underlying conditions

Stretch marks on the breasts are very common and often have benign causes. However, an underlying condition might be the reason for stretch marks.

Possible conditions are often adrenal ones, like Cushing syndrome. It causes an increased production of the cortisol hormone.

In some cases, the treatments people use to resolve other conditions may increase the risk of stretch marks developing. A common example is those who use corticosteroids. These are used to treat a wide array of conditions, from asthma to autoimmune diseases.

Diabetes may also affect the skin’s formation of collagen. This may potentially increase the likelihood of developing stretch marks.

There are a handful of different treatments you can use to lighten stretch marks on your breasts and reduce their visibility.

Home remedies and surgical therapies are both available. Many treatments will be most effective when they’re used on newly formed stretch marks.

Home treatments

There are a number of different home remedies you can use to treat stretch marks. Many of these come with a reduced risk of side effects that may be associated with surgical procedures. They’re often much more affordable and accessible, too.

These treatments include:

  • Massaging the skin. Massage is thought to help increase blood flow and collagen production, which may help the stretch marks fade. To do this, massage the breasts for at least 30 seconds. You can use creams that treat stretch marks during the massage for best results.
  • Exfoliation. Use a soft-bristled brushor an exfoliating scrubto speed up the process of collagen production and improve the appearance of your skin. Only choose one exfoliating product. If you use more than one, it may irritate your skin. Start with exfoliation every other day. Shop for exfoliating brushes and exfoliating scrubs.
  • Cocoa butter or shea butter.You can purchase these butters in pure formor in creams that contain them. They’re both nourishing and contain vitamin E, which is good for skin health. Shop for cocoa butter and shea butter.
  • Stretch mark creams. These creams are sold over the counter and contain a mix of ingredients that theoretically help fade scars and improve skin elasticity. Shop for stretch mark creams.

Other treatments

If home remedies don’t work, there are medical treatments a dermatologist can prescribe to you. These are often more effective for stubborn stretch marks. They include:

  • Laser resurfacing therapy. A 2017 review estimates this treatment is about 50 to 75 percent effectivein treating stretch marks. Your dermatologist will use a skin-safe laser to break up scar tissue, stimulate damaged tissues to repair themselves, and increase blood flow to the area.
  • Acid peel treatments. These peels exfoliate and remove the top layer of skin. This can help reduce the appearance of the stretch marks.
  • Microdermabrasion. A strong exfoliation method, this treatment may improve collagen production and reduce visibility of stretch marks.
  • Prescription topical creams and ointments. These may contain glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin or silicon or collagen to improve elastin.

Laser therapy is the only treatment proven to be effective in treating stretch marks. Your dermatologist will be able to best determine the right course of treatment for you.

It’s not always possible to prevent stretch marks on your breasts, but there are certain steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of them developing.

These include:

  • Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. This will boost your body’s needed nutrients to improve skin health. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Use stretch mark creams preemptively in instances when you’d be at high risk for developing them, like during pregnancy. Consult your doctor to make sure the treatment you’re using is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.

Stretch marks on the breasts are extremely common. They often fade from pink or red to white over time.

Home treatments and medical interventions can help treat stretch marks, but they’re all most effective when the marks are brand new.

Keep in mind stretch marks are normal and not harmful. If you don’t want to remove them, you don’t have to.