Let's talk aboutStretch Marks & Genetics

Why do some people manage to avoid stretch marks, while others get lines all over? The answer may involve genetics.

How it works

Stretch marks are a type of scarring that look like stripes on the skin and are commonly found on the hips, thighs, and abdomen. They often develop when the skin stretches during a quick period of growth, like during adolescence, pregnancy, or rapid weight gain.

The genetic link

23andMe scientists identified 544 genetic markers associated with stretch marks. They identified these by analyzing genetic data and survey responses from more than 670,000 23andMe consented research participants. In addition to genetics, other factors like age, sex, and ancestry can also influence your chances of having stretch marks.

reduced protein level with stretch marks

Did you know?

Scientists don’t know exactly why some people are more susceptible to stretch marks than others. One reason may be that when skin is stretched from rapid growth, the resulting damage doesn’t heal as well in some people, leading to stretch marks. This idea is supported by studies on skin cells from people with stretch marks, which showed that their cells make lower amounts of certain proteins that are important for skin elasticity and repair.

Explore more

Wondering if stretch marks might be in your future? 23andMe can give you a closer look at some of the genetic variants that influence stretch marks. Buy one of our services, such as our Health + Ancestry Service, to find out whether you’re more likely to have stretch marks based on your genetics and other factors.

Health + Ancestry Service Kit

Health + Ancestry Service

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Furlotte NA et al. (2015). “23andMe White Paper 23-12: Estimating complex phenotype prevalence using predictive models.” 23andMe White Paper 23-12.

Gilmore SJ et al. (2012). “A mechanochemical model of striae distensae.” Math Biosci. 240(2):141-7.

Lee KS et al. (1994). “Decreased expression of collagen and fibronectin genes in striae distensae tissue.” Clin Exp Dermatol. 19(4):285-8.

Mitts TF et al. (2005). “Skin biopsy analysis reveals predisposition to stretch mark formation.” Aesthet Surg J. 25(6):593-600.