Stretch marks, although many of us may have one or two, are mostly associated with pregnancy. Medically referred to as Striae Gravidarum, they occur anytime the collagen fibers in the skin are stretched and torn beyond normal, hence the appearance of small tears. Although harmless and painless, they aren’t pretty to look at and can do a number on a woman’s self-esteem and body image.
Stretch Marks During and After Pregnancy
Pregnancy is the most common cause of stretch marks because of the rapid growth during the last trimester. Here, the skin stretches to accommodate the growth of the baby and the necessary parts of the female body involved in childbirth. Stretch marks during pregnancy occur mostly in the abdomen and stomach area, but can also be common on the buttocks, breasts, hips, and thighs since these areas grow rapidly as well. The bad news is that they are not easily avoided – more than half of all pregnant women will get them. Most women worry greatly about stretch marks during and after pregnancy and this can cause problems with body image and self-esteem.
Stretch Mark Prevention
Stretch mark prevention during pregnancy is limited since it’s not up to us how quickly baby grows. Your best prevention is to not gain more than the recommended amount of weight during your pregnancy, which doctors say is 25- 35 pounds. Smaller women will be more susceptible to the development of stretch marks obviously because of the skin’s need to stretch more than a larger women’s skin.
Doctors also recommend staying hydrated. Consuming the proper amount of water daily will ensure hydration and elasticity in the skin, allowing it to accommodate the increase in size. Many women buy into the creams and lotions that promise stretch mark reduction or prevention during pregnancy. Doctors warn against using these, however, because the chemicals contained in them are absorbed by the baby.
Regular lotions, such as Cocoa Butter, although great for the skin, have shown no evidence of preventing stretch marks. The bottom line is that what mostly determines the amount and intensity of stretch marks is the elasticity of your skin, which is entirely determined by genes. That means that, ultimately, other than keeping your weight gain within the normal range, you have only a little control over stretch marks during pregnancy.
Stretch Mark Treatment and Removal
Stretch marks generally fade considerably within a year of giving birth. Still, some women are bothered enough by them to seek further methods for reducing their appearance and resort to topical applications, creams, and even surgery. A tummy-tuck can hide stretch marks on the stomach, although leaving a scar in their place. Also, doctors can prescribe a tretinoin cream after giving birth which can reduce the appearance of stretch marks. The sooner after delivery these topical treatments are used, the more effective they are. Overall, women consider stretch marks a small price to pay for the new bundle of joy in their life.