Pregnancy Stretch Marks: Everything You Need To Know
Pregnancy stretch marks could be a frustrating experience to an already busy period of your life.
Pregnancy is one of the most exciting periods for many women but it is often associated with many challenges. Weight gained during this period is usually sudden which is one of the primary reasons for the appearance of stretch marks.
However, not all women are affected by stretch marks. Some manage to walk through the whole journey without them.
Luckily, for those who may experience stretch marks there are available treatments to help you manage them effectively.
Stretch marks affect almost every one. They are not just found in pregnant women.
They are mainly as a result of stretching of the skin either due to additional weight gain or rapid growth during puberty. They can also occur due to the extended use of some medications or long term use of steroids causing rapid muscle growth.
There are also some conditions that are associated with stretch marks. Cushing’s syndrome and Marfan syndrome are two of the genetic disorders and diseases which are characterized by widespread stretch marks.
Stretch marks may start with itching around the area where the skin is stretching as it becomes pink and starts thinning out. The fact that this growth is sudden leads to the skin stretching out.
The pressure which is exerted on the outer layer of the skin leads to formation of the stretch marks.
Stretch marks are by no means threatening to your health or life. Some women even love it when they appear on their body during their pregnancy.
The present article looks to provide a deeper understanding of the topic and provide a range of good alternatives for treating and preventing pregnancy stretch marks.
- 1 Who Is Prone To Pregnancy Stretch Marks?
- 2 Where Stretch Marks Appear On Your Body?
- 3 Simple Tips To Prevent And Treat Stretch Marks
- 4 Natural Treatment Of Stretch Marks
- 5 Stretch Mark Creams
- 6 Laser Stretch Mark Removal
- 7 Surgery For Your Stretch Marks
- 8 The Benefits Of Hydration
- 9 Chemical Peel Removal Of Stretch Marks
- 10 Diet And Exercise For Stretch Marks
Who Is Prone To Pregnancy Stretch Marks?
There are several factors which affect the likelihood of one person getting stretch marks over another:
- Skin tone
- Age and life style
By the time the pregnancy hits the sixth or seventh month stretch marks will have started appearing.
If the weight gained during pregnancy is more than average, chances are higher that you will develop stretch marks.
When it comes to pregnancy, most women are known to gain 10 to 12.5 kg but there is a great variation from one pregnant mother to another. The amount of weight gained depends on an individual’s weight before pregnancy.
Checking your weight before getting pregnant can help in avoiding stretch marks. If the weight gain is moderate and there are no other risks such as genetics, a woman may carry the pregnancy to term without getting stretch marks.
The size of the baby also determines whether a woman gets stretch marks or not. Women who have larger babies are at a higher risk of developing stretch marks.
It will also depend on the type of pregnancy, for the women who may be carrying multiples; the size of the abdomen will tend to be larger than those carrying a single fetus.
Does genetics affect your stretch marks?
Pregnancy stretch marks are also known to run in families. Chances are that if your mother had stretch marks, you are also likely to have them at some point.
This should not be a cause for alarm. Not all women whose mothers had stretch marks had them too.
This clearly points out that the issue of hereditary in stretch marks is not backed by strong scientific evidence.
There might be other underlying genetic predispositions such as weight gain which could be the cause of your stretch marks.
What skin color makes stretch marks most visible?
It also matters whether you are light or darker skinned.
People with light skin will have more clearly visible marks as compared to the darker skinned.
Does age matter for stretch marks?
Zoe Diana Draelos, a dermatologist and cosmetologist notes in her book, Cosmetics and Dermatologic Problems and Solutions, that stretch marks do not discriminate regarding age, they can affect almost everyone.
She points out that young women are more prone to pregnancy stretch marks than older women. The explanation given as far as this situation is concerned is the elasticity of the skin.
Zoe also points out obesity, she stresses that a pregnant woman who is obese may develop stretch marks and they will be much more visible compared to leaner mothers to-be.
Goldman and Hexsel in their book, Cellulite: Pathophysiology and Treatment, points out that hormonal factors such as adrenocortical and estrogen are highly associated with pregnancy stretch marks.
These hormones play a significant role in lateral extension of the skin and the body at large as well as the various parts of the body expanding in response to the growing fetus.
Where Stretch Marks Appear On Your Body?
Joseph Awoyemi and David Salako, the authors of a book by the title Pregnancy: good health for mother, baby and dad, note that during pregnancy stretch marks develop in areas where there are large concentrations of fats.
They note that areas which are likely to be affected by stretch marks include:
- Upper legs
- Upper and lower arm
Some people may experience itching in the areas where the growing abdomen is stretching out. This is not a common thing and it only lasts for a few days.
To most women the only sign of stretch marks is the appearance of pale white markings, which sometimes may develop suddenly without prior notice of any changes on your skin.
Simple Tips To Prevent And Treat Stretch Marks
With the knowledge that stretch marks can be managed and treated successfully, it is also important to understand the factors which need to be taken into consideration to ensure that the right decision is made and the desired results are obtained in the course of the process.
What are some of the treatment options?
Niels Laursen, the writer of a book titled It’s Your Pregnancy, assures women that the condition is manageable.
She points out that the appearance and intensity of these marks can be greatly reduced through the use of:
- Healthy diet
- Good hydration
You should catch them early
One of the factors which is indicative of the success of your treatment is the stage of your pregnancy stretch marks.
Experts point out that pregnancy stretch marks can be treated effectively if they are managed during the early stages.
Women are advised to pay attention to any changes on their body and skin. When done regularly, mostly a couple of times a week, it will be possible to detect where the skin is bulging out and that area may eventually develop stretch marks.
When noticed early, it will be possible to take quick action and prevent the appearance of the marks.
Late detection will make them harder but still not impossible to treat.
Luckily stretch marks are not likely to appear during the first trimester, which would give you time to plan and not rush into ‘miracle’ products.
Immediately when they start appearing, most likely after the first trimester, you should be ready to start the course of treatment. Whatever treatment you decide to use, you need to make sure that the ingredients in the cream, lotion or ointment are safe.
Stretch marks are classified into two classes based on the time they occur or are discovered:
- The old or alba stretch marks, those that have been there for some time, either treated or untreated.
- The recent or rubra stretch mark, these are the newly developed stretch marks.
Goldman and Hexsel stress the importance of treating the stretch marks as soon as they appear. When the best treatment for stretch marks during pregnancy is applied, the appearance is greatly improved.
Waiting until too late may not give the desired results; one should aim at addressing the problem as quickly as it appears.
Be patient and realistic
The second factor touches on the expectations of the person who is seeking treatment for pregnancy stretch marks during.
Experts point out that expectations need to be realistic. The length of time for stretch marks to fade away and disappear may vary from one individual to another.
There are some who may only take a short time while others may take longer. It is important for an individual to seek treatment with an open mind.
It is crucial to understand the nature of your pregnancy stretch marks and what treatment is likely to be most effective in your case.
You should not be looking for miracle treatments and instant disappearance of your stretch marks. Some might not disappear during your pregnancy and may last a couple of months after delivery.
It is also important to understand that the available treatment for stretch marks may not be effective in completely removing the marks from your skin.
Some treatments can be helpful in reducing the intensity of your stretch marks and help their natural disappearance over period of time.
Patience and tempering expectations are two management strategies that need to be employed in the course of your treatment.
Consider all options and have a plan
You need to carefully consider the different options available and plan the most affordable and convenient treatment for your pregnancy stretch marks.
There are different methods of treating and managing stretch marks which can range in costs. It is important to establish your budget before choosing a treatment. This process may have an impact on your finances especially if you plan to try different methods.
For example surgery is one of the methods which is usually seen to have effective results but may be expensive for many. The fact that it is not covered by most medical insurances means that you will be required to pay it yourself.
Surgery may not be a viable solution when it comes to treating stretch marks during your pregnancy.
You would not want to undergo expensive surgery to find out that new stretch marks appeared after your pregnancy. This is the reason why, you should not be rushing before carefully considering all options.
Treatment of your stretch marks may take a long time and you need to be persistent. It is important to plan ahead and establish the best treatment before and during your pregnancy.
Your health and safety come first
When talking about the best treatment for pregnancy stretch marks one of the first things to consider is safety.
There are some products which should not be used by a pregnant or breastfeeding mother.
It is essential to get advice from expert consultants or your physician alongside any personal research you might be doing.
This is mainly to ensure that whatever product or method you plan to use would not harm you or your baby.
Applying effective creams and lotions will help in hydrating the skin, allowing it to stretch and respond positively to the changes that are taking place in the body as a result of pregnancy growth.
Natural Treatment Of Stretch Marks
Available means to treat stretch marks during pregnancy mainly involve helping your skin to overcome the pressure of rapid growth and making them less visible.
There are a number of options which you can choose from and many of them are natural such as:
- Castor oil
- Aloe Vera
- Lemon juice
- Egg whites
You can also choose from plenty of natural cosmetics, creams, lotions and ointments. They are widely accepted as stretch marks management products. They can be obtained at any store without the need for a prescription.
While selecting the most effective and appropriate method it is worth noting that none of the recommended methods may give one hundred percent results but there are many options which will give you good results in reducing and even eliminating your stretch marks.
Castor oil is one of the most common treatment options for pregnancy stretch marks. Its effectiveness makes it a favorite product to many.
It is massaged gently in the areas where the marks have appeared. This should be done in circular motions for a period of twenty minutes.
The process should be repeated regularly to get the desired results.
The only disadvantage here is that this can be time-consuming making it undesirable to women who may not have enough time to commit to the process.
Use of egg whites is another common natural remedy.
Eggs are known to be rich in proteins as well as amino acids.
These qualities make the product effective in reducing and even removing pregnancy stretch marks.
The egg whites are applied in the areas affected by the stretch marks, left to dry and rinsed off with the help of warm water.
Aloe Vera is another effective natural product to help with the treatment of different skin conditions.
It has certain healing and soothing properties which contribute to the removal of stretch marks during and after pregnancy.
Lemon juice is also known to have properties which are helpful in the treatment of pregnancy stretch marks.
It is worth noting that these remedies may not be entirely effective without addressing the actual problem.
You need to make sure that dieting and exercising as well as application of creams or ointments are continued through the duration of the pregnancy.
This will ensure that those stretch marks do not continue forming once they disappear.
Stretch Mark Creams
Creams such as Tretinoin have been shown to have a great effect on improving the appearance of skin affected by stretch marks. Research has shown that it is one of the best treatment options for pregnancy stretch marks.
It is very effective for stretch marks which are not more than six weeks old. This is a time when the stretch marks are still pinkish or reddish in color.
The cream helps in building collagen making the areas which are affected by the pregnancy stretch marks appear similar to normal skin.
Some researchers talk about the dangers that are posed by the cream when used by pregnant women, but there is no evidence to support such claims.
This does not mean that you should jump straight on using stretch mark creams without doing the necessary research.
It is also important to seek advice from a physician before using some cosmetic product. The physician will not only give you information on the safety of the cream during your pregnancy but will also recommend the best application method as well as the frequency.
Stretch mark creams offer many benefits
- Widely available
- Easy to apply
One of the primary benefits in using the creams to manage stretch marks is that they are not as expensive as other treatments.
They are also readily available online and you usually do not need a prescription to buy one.
Most of the formulations are also lightweight. They are unscented, and therefore, people who have an issue with particular scents will find them easy to use especially during pregnancy.
There are some women who may find scented variants an irritant. Some scents may cause nausea and vomiting too.
Most of the creams which are used to treat stretch marks do not have pungent smells or any other odor that may be irritating.
Stretch mark creams are also easy to apply. They are non-greasy and do not leave the skin feeling sticky. These types of creams would leave the skin feeling soft and comfortable.
There are other creams which require a little bit more time for application. You may need to allow more time to make sure that the cream is well absorbed by your skin.
As the number of creams purporting to treat or manage pregnancy stretch marks is increasing, it is very important that you take precautions.
Not everything on the market will give the desired results. There are some products which are overrated, taking advantage of consumers who end up disappointed.
You need to do a good amount of research and understand what type of product might offer the best treatment for your stretch marks. There is nothing bad in trying out alternatives especially if they are natural.
You also need to think about the valuable opinion of others users of stretch mark products. Do not ignore the advice of your physician especially when you are not sure about a new product.
Laser Stretch Mark Removal
Apart from using creams, lotions and ointments, there are other methods that women can use to eliminate pregnancy stretch marks.
Laser therapy, for example, is considered to be an effective method to treat stretch marks. During the procedure a beam of light is passed through the skin resulting in the removal of a thin layer of skin.
The high energy laser light, normally the ultra violet rays, is used to disrupt the bonding of the molecular tissues of the skin. The tissues disintegrate in a process which is commonly known as ablation.
Once the process is completed the treated areas will gradually turn reddish and tender until they heal. This is mainly due to the reason that the skin in those areas is removed and new skin is developing.
There might be some occasional blisters but this will be short-lived. The areas will heal within two weeks, although there are some who may experience it for a little bit longer depending on your skin type.
Laser therapy is found to be highly effective especially with removing recent stretch marks.
The success of this method, just like many other options, is dependent on the prevalence of stretch marks as well as the age of the scars.
Older stretch marks as well as those that are spread to other parts of the body may not be effectively eliminated by laser therapy. They would most likely need a combination of different treatments.
To completely remove your stretch marks, you may need to repeat the laser treatment more than ten times. In more serious cases, it would even take longer than this but without any guarantees that the procedure would be completely successful.
Laser therapy is preferred to many other stretch mark removal methods due to its effectiveness. Some people describe it as the best way to treat stretch marks and there is a high rate of satisfaction among women who have undergone it.
Its safety also makes it a perfect choice for people who may not be willing to go through a surgical procedure or be subjected to a long period of creams and lotion use.
It is also less invasive when compared to a surgical procedure which normally comes with sculpting procedures in affected areas. It also takes a shorter time to recover and has minimal complications especially when performed by qualified and experienced personnel.
The cost is also lower compared to a surgery and even prolonged use of creams, lotions and other pregnancy stretch mark removal products.
Although laser therapy is one of the more effective options in treatment of stretch marks, just like any other medical procedure it imposes certain risks.
These risks mostly come as a result of mishandling the laser which can lead to tissue damage. You are advised to select a cosmetic dermatologist who is experienced in laser therapy to avoid such risks.
It is also important to note that not all stretch marks may be removed using this technique. For example, deeply entrenched marks may not successfully be eliminated.
As other treatment alternatives you need to carefully assess the benefits and risks during your pregnancy. It may be worth considering some procedures after your pregnancy so that you avoid any side effects to yourself and your baby.
Surgery For Your Stretch Marks
Although they do not pose any health risk, pregnancy stretch marks still remain a cause of anxiety to many women.
If you can eliminate instead of camouflaging them, all these problems associated with stretch marks will be a thing of the past.
Undergoing surgery to remove your stretch marks would ensure that your marks will be eliminated completely and permanently. A surgical procedure remains the most effective treatment method. It guarantees you that you will be able to get rid of your stretch marks fast.
The specific surgical procedure which can be conducted to remove your stretch marks is called Abdominoplasty or also known as tummy tuck.
This procedure involves tightening the abdominal muscles and getting rid of excess skin in the abdominal area. All of the stretch marks around this area are removed alongside the excess skin.
The surgical procedures, which are available for removal of stretch marks, only target the abdominal region. There are no other common surgical procedures which specifically aim at removing stretch marks in other body parts.
Due to the limitations, this type of stretch marks treatment is only available to people who qualify for the tummy tuck. The person undergoing this procedure must be in good health, does not smoke and above all have excess of skin in the stomach region.
Pregnant women are discouraged from undertaking this procedure as it may result to some complications. They are advised to wait until after delivery to get rid of the excess skin as well as fats that have accumulated in the region.
The surgical procedure is the most expensive method of stretch marks removal. The cost of this procedure varies; depending on the technique used as well as the severity of the marks.
It is important to seek advice from your physician and cosmetic dermatologist before deciding to undergo the process especially if you are pregnant of taking care of a young one.
The Benefits Of Hydration
You should be drinking more water during pregnancy than in any other period. The blood volume in your body is increasing and you are also building a water sack for your baby. Your skin also needs a lot of water to stay well hydrated and elastic.
The benefits of good hydration are numerous. A pregnant woman also needs plenty of water to avoiding feeling nauseated. This can only be achieved when the recommended water intake is reached.
Normally, a person needs to drink at least eight glasses of water daily which makes the intake for a pregnant women even higher. Experts recommend 8 to 12 glasses daily.
It is important to observe the signs of dehydration, dry lips signify that the body needs to be rehydrated. Headaches, being tired and also losing concentration are other signs that the body has lost water and there is a need to replenish.
Experts also recommend that water should be taken in intervals. Drinking a lot of water in one sitting may be detrimental. It can lead to imbalances causing more problems to your body.
Keeping the body well hydrated not only helps your skin to be elastic but also ensures that it maintains its balance. It also ensures that you help your body flush toxins and as such promote your overall wellbeing.
A well hydrated body and elastic skin are of fundamental importance to avoiding pregnancy stretch marks. This will ensure that once the skin starts expanding as the pregnancy grows, it will stretch out evenly without breaking or forming stretch marks.
Chemical Peel Removal Of Stretch Marks
There are other options available to treat your stretch marks if you are looking for a less invasive method.
It is important to be mentioned, that other methods may not result in removing your stretch marks completely and as fast as a surgery but they are still viable options.
One of the alternatives which you can consider is chemical peel. Chemical peel has been recommended by specialists but its effectiveness is seen to vary.
This method offers a good potential solution to help with your pregnancy stretch marks and also improve the smoothness of your skin.
This process should be carried out by a specialist, such as a dermatologist. This makes the process a bit more demanding than other methods which do not guarantee fast results.
You should always keep in mind that the effectiveness of each treatment is highly individualistic. You can only know for certain if your tried it cautiously with the guidance of good research and expert recommendations.
Diet And Exercise For Stretch Marks
One of the best ways to treat pregnancy stretch marks is by having a health diet.
What you eat determines whether you gain weight gradually or rapidly. Ensure that you eat a balanced diet at all times. Eat foods which will help nourish the skin, keep it properly hydrated and elastic.
With these measures you are at least assured that there will be no rapid weight gain. When the baby starts bulging the skin will be more elastic to accommodate the increased size comfortably.
It is also important to combine all the selected treatment methods with exercise.
This will help the body to adjust properly and also avoid situation where unwanted wanted is gained.
While exercising, it is important to engage in light physical exercises to avoid injuries. It is also recommended to consult your physician to advice on the type of the exercises which are safe during the pregnancy.
Getting pregnant is a wonderful. However, there are certain challenges that come with pregnancy. You will have to cope with morning sickness, headaches, nausea and other unpleasant feelings. There are also numerous occasions of mood swings and body changes which you might not have expected.
Pregnancy stretch marks add to the list of challenges which women could experience during this period.
Many women feel limited by stretch marks. They even shy away from wearing light clothes and exposing their arms, legs and abdomen. It is also a cause for concern as many women may lose self confidence.
Although they are not painful, neither are they life threatening, they can be easily treated.
Several options for treating pregnancy stretch marks are suggested in this article.
The choice of the best treatment for stretch marks during pregnancy will depend on several factors.
The age of the stretch marks, and the type as well as the location.
The costs and expectations associated with each treatment also need to be considered.
It is also important to seek as much information as possible for each product or procedure. Whatever you do you should never rush into impulsive experiments with products and treatments. There are some that will pose serious risks while others may be absolutely safe.
You should always benefit from a good amount of research and the experience of others. The health of the mother as well as the safety of the child come first.
Pregnancy should not be a period of stress given the challenges that come with it.
Gaining knowledge on how you can deal with your stretch marks will give you confidence.
Use the method that works for you to remove the stretch marks. Talk to your doctor on the techniques that are safe for pregnant mothers.