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Stretch Marks During & After Pregnancy? What Can you do?

Stretch marks – considered by some to be a badge of motherhood as your very own 'tiger stripe' – are indented lines in the skin that often appear on your belly, breasts, and behind during pregnancy. They're caused by your skin stretching to accommodate your baby and the growth of your bum. Sadly, if your family members are prone to having stretch marks, there isn't much you can do to prevent stretch marks, but gaining weight slowly and sticking to the recommended amount of pregnancy weight gain may help. If you're bothered by yours, which is perfectly natural, please keep on reading on.


In this article we will talk about:

  • What are stretch marks?

  • What causes stretch marks?

  • How can I tell if I'll get stretch marks?

  • What can I do to prevent stretch marks?

  • Do stretch marks ever go away?

  • Is there anything I can do to get rid of stretch marks later?


What are stretch marks? Stretch marks are small, depressed streaks in the skin that appear most often on the abdomen in the later stages of pregnancy when the belly is rapidly expanding to accommodate a growing baby. Some women also get them on their buttocks, thighs, hips, and breasts. Stretch marks start out pink, reddish-brown, purple, or dark brown, depending on your skin color. They later fade, although they never totally disappear.

What causes stretch marks? As the name suggests, stretch marks are caused by stretching of the skin. They tend to develop when a person gains or loses weight rapidly, or during pregnancy as your belly and breasts grow to accommodate your baby. The hormone cortisol – which increases during pregnancy – may also play a role. It weakens elastic fibers in the skin. How can I tell if I'll get stretch marks? It's hard to predict. At least half of pregnant women get stretch marks, but no one can tell with certainty who's going to get them and who won't. However, there are some factors that increase your chances of getting stretch marks. Research suggests that genetics plays a role: If your mother or sister got stretch marks during pregnancy, you're more likely to get them, too. In addition, the more your skin has to expand during pregnancy, and the more quickly it happens, the more likely you are to develop stretch marks. For this reason, you're more likely to get stretch marks if:

  • You gain a lot of weight rapidly.

  • You're carrying multiples.

  • You're carrying a big baby.

  • You have excess amniotic fluid.


What can I do to prevent stretch marks?

Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do. Gaining no more than the recommended amount of weight — in most cases, 25 to 35 pounds — and gaining it slowly may reduce your chances of getting stretch marks. There's no guarantee that any of the creams, silicone patches, and oils that claim to prevent stretch marks will work. Studies of most of the featured ingredients in these over-the-counter products have not yielded clearly beneficial results. Keeping your belly well moisturized as it grows may reduce itching, though.


Do stretch marks ever go away? The good news is that stretch marks usually become considerably less noticeable about six to 12 months after childbirth. The pigmentation fades and they generally become lighter than the surrounding skin (the color will vary depending on your skin color), but their texture will remain the same. There are ways to significantly speed up this process, by using multi-ingredient products like the StretchPatch.

Is there anything I can do to get rid of stretch marks later? You won't be able to banish them altogether, but if your stretch marks still bother you after your pregnancy, talk to a dermatologist about ways to minimize them. There are a variety of treatment options including:

  • Topical medications such as the StretchPatch will help tremendously. However, it is containing 17+ ingredients and is best to avoid while breastfeeding, as it contains pepper extract that can be an irritant for the baby and any mucus membranes, but it does have superior results compared to 1 or two-ingredient counterparts like Bio Oil, or some silicone patches.

  • Laser therapy. There's some evidence that laser treatments can help restore the skin's elasticity and also change the pigmentation so the stretch marks better match the rest of your skin. Laser therapy is expensive and involves beaming infrared and visible red light onto the stretch marks. It may require multiple sessions over several weeks to permanently improve the appearance of stretch marks by 20 to 60 percent, and maintenance treatments may be required.



 

Sources

When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies. AAD. Stretch marks: Why they appear and how t get rid of them. American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/scars-stretch-marks/stretch-marks-why-appear [Accessed September 2020] ASDS. Undated. Laser/light therapy for stretch marks. American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. https://www.asds.net/skin-experts/skin-treatments/laser-light-therapy/laser-therapy-for-stretch-marks [Accessed September 2020] UpToDate. 2019. Striae distensae (stretch marks). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/striae-distensae-stretch-marks. [Accessed September 2020]




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