What is the Connection Between Cellulite and Stretch Marks?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill
Female abdomen with stretch marks.
Female abdomen with stretch marks.

Cellulite and stretch marks are both more likely to occur in those who are overweight or obese, although this is not always the case. Even those who are thin can develop cellulite and sometimes stretch marks as well. Both conditions may appear worse in those who are overweight, however, and drastic weight gain can worsen each of them further.

Stretch marks are a form of scarred tissue which are generally caused by the rapid loss or gain of weight. When the layers of fat beneath skin become larger or smaller rapidly, the skin doesn’t have enough time to stretch properly. This leaves areas of scarred tissue where the skin was forced to stretch too quickly. They often dip inward and have a blue, red, pink, or white color.

Many pregnant women use cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks.
Many pregnant women use cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks.

Cellulite is also more common in those who gain weight quickly, although it occurs in up to 90% of women at some point in their lives. It is caused by fatty buildup in the subcutaneous layer beneath the skin. This buildup causes the skin to appear bumpy or cratered.

Both cellulite and stretch marks are more prominent in those who are moderately to severely overweight. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help stave off both conditions, but this doesn’t work for everyone. Pregnancy, for instance, often causes stretch marks in the stomach, thighs, and breasts even in women who remain a healthy weight.

Women are more prone to getting cellulite and stretch marks, but they can occur in men as well. Hormonal factors can play a role in the development of both, and women are more likely to store fat around the hips and thighs where both conditions occur more often. These can be contributing factors in the development of cellulite and stretch marks in women of any weight.

In most cases both conditions are hard to get rid of. Multiple over the counter treatments are available for cellulite as well as stretch mark removal, but there is little scientific evidence to indicate that they actually work. Laser treatments have been shown to be beneficial in the removal or fading of stretch marks. Coffee grounds and certain other topical treatments may temporarily make cellulite less noticeable.

Those who are overweight may reduce the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks over time by losing excess fat and maintaining a health lifestyle. Stretch marks generally fade naturally over time, and sometimes they become barely noticeable. Both conditions run in families, so women whose mothers had stretch marks or cellulite are more likely to suffer from these conditions themselves.

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Discussion Comments


I gained 13 pounds over the past year, and I noticed that where stretch marks were present, so was cellulite. With both of them ganging up on my thighs like that, I was embarrassed to wear a swimsuit.

It's one thing to have purple marks on your legs, but when you have pockets of cellulite in the same area, you have extra unsightliness. So, I bought a swimdress instead of a regular suit, and that hid some of the most intense areas.

Still, I made sure to keep a wrap lying near the shore. As soon as I emerged from the water, I grabbed the wrap and covered my stretch marks and cellulite before anyone on the beach could see them.


My husband has been going up and down in weight over the years, and he has stretch marks on the sides of his abdomen. They are reddish-purple, and they are only a couple of inches long.

He got all the way up to 270 pounds this year, but he dropped back down to 253 in just a couple of months. The stretch marks are still there, probably because of the rapid decline in weight.

What's odd is that he doesn't appear to have cellulite. His legs are really muscular, and though they are thick, they don't seem dimpled at all.

He isn't too worried about getting rid of the stretch marks, because guys generally don't care too much about such things. He's more focused on getting back down to 220 and maintaining a healthy weight, and if he does that, then he will likely lose the stretch marks, anyway.


@shell4life – It is definitely much easier to get rid of stretch marks than to get rid of cellulite. In fact, I don't know anyone who has figured out how to eliminate it.

Even doctors will tell you that you might just be stuck with it. Sure, losing a little weight will help, but even skinny people have cellulite. I had it when I only weighed 118 pounds!

While my stretch marks went away on their own, the cellulite did not. Working out and toning up my thighs helped them look as good as they possibly could, but the dimples of fat were still scattered here and there.


In my experience, time will rid you of stretch marks. I got some on my butt when I was a teenager, and they disappeared on their own after awhile.

I had just hit puberty, and I was starting to develop curves. I was surprised when I looked in the mirror one day and saw squiggly purple lines running up and down over my butt. I thought something was wrong with me, but my mother told me that I had stretch marks from a growth spurt.

I was always physically active, so I didn't become fat. The stretch marks faded out within the year.

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    • Female abdomen with stretch marks.
      By: Leo Lintang
      Female abdomen with stretch marks.
    • Many pregnant women use cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks.
      By: ftlaudgirl
      Many pregnant women use cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks.