Can Exercise Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks?

If you've noticed scar-like, discolored streaks on certain areas of your body, including your belly, hips, and thighs, you may have stretch marks, explains the Mayo Clinic. These indented stripes can occur in different colors as well, ranging from a more subtle pink to dark red or even blue and purple. They also typically show up in groupings, but this can vary widely as well. Some people may find only small patches of stretch marks on their skin, while others might see them spread over large swatches.

No matter the appearance of stretch marks, they all share the same causes: quick growth, stretching, or contraction of the skin, as per MedicalNewsToday. While the skin is naturally elastic and designed to expand and contract, this process must happen slowly to avoid damage. If it happens too quickly, underlying layers of the skin rip, leading to what we see on the surface as stretch marks. There are certain risk factors that make accelerated skin growth more likely. These include pregnancy, gaining weight too quickly, puberty, and certain medications, such as corticosteroids, which reduce the skin's ability to stretch and bounce back.

For many dealing with stretch marks, finding a treatment to get rid of them is a top priority. You may have already heard of several ways to reduce their appearance. If exercise is one of them, we're here to tell you if it's worth a try.

Exercise may not eliminate your stretch marks

Reconstructive and plastic surgeon Dr. Brent Moelleken writes on his blog that the common belief that exercising can get rid of stretch marks is a myth. The reason for this is that stretch marks are considered to be a scar due to the damaged layers of skin beneath the surface. Therefore, exercise can't do anything to repair this damage. However, the surgeon notes that exercise can make your skin look healthier in general by increasing blood circulation and promoting the growth of collagen and new skin cells. This won't erase your stretch marks, but it may boost your self-confidence in your appearance.

A 2019 review of studies published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal looking at potential treatments for stretch marks back up this information — there is no scientific evidence that exercise has any effect on the appearance of stretch marks. That being said, the review did find evidence that stretch marks can be prevented through the avoidance of rapid weight gain. As a 2019 systematic review published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal suggests, exercise is an important tool in weight management.

If exercise isn't an option, how can you reduce the appearance of stretch marks? The American Academy of Dermatology Association points out that nothing will get rid of mature stretch marks, but certain treatments can make them less noticeable. These include chemical peels, laser therapy, microdermabrasion, and topical prescription medications.