A common myth about stretch marks is that only women can get them. However, men are just as likely to suffer with stretch marks as women. Stretch marks are a significant concern for bodybuilders who make their living off of the appearance of their bodies. Because rapid muscle development can lead to stretch mark scarring, bodybuilders must take preventative measures to prevent skin from stretching and scarring. However, stretch marks are not a concern exclusive to bodybuilders; regular men who like lifting weights at the gym and sculpting their bodies are also at risk for getting stretch marks as a result of developing muscles.

Stretch marks appear when skin must stretch to accommodate changes in the size and shape of one’s body. If skin is brittle when the body changes shape, the middle layer of the skin—known as the dermis—will tear in order to accommodate growth. The torn dermis layer will originally appear as dark red or purple lines and can, over time, become white. These lines are known as striae, or stretch marks.

Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body but commonly appear on the arms, thighs, and/or buttocks of weightlifters. The reason stretch marks are more likely to appear in these areas is because these areas are more likely to experience rapid muscle development after starting a new workout routine.

If you are a professional bodybuilder, you spend a significant percentage of your life perfecting your body. When people look at you, you want them to notice your six pack abs, not the collection of stretch marks extending out from your armpits. Additionally, if you plan on participating in a professional bodybuilding competition, judges will take the appearance of your skin into consideration when scoring, and having stretch marks may result in lower scores. If you’re just lifting weight for fitness, you could feel self-conscious when going to the pool, beach, or taking of your shirt in general.

Stretch marks are permanent and will not go away on their own without treatment. For that reason, it is important to take preventative measures to discourage stretch mark development so that your progress toward sculpting the perfect body is not marred.