Stretchmarks happen. And it’s only natural because, after 9 months of your belly stretching to hold your baby, your body begins to show the signs, like with any natural process. Some moms wear these marks as a sign of victory, a badge of honor, and they even consider them to be baby beauty marks, and that’s amazing! But for some moms, they’re a pain, and that’s totally fine. Only you get to decide what makes you feel comfortable in your skin. You can either empower or want to erase your stretch marks and that is definitely a decision for you, and only you to make.
Anyone Can Develop Stretch Marks during a Pregnancy
According to the Health Engine, 43% began to notice stretch marks before their 24-week milestone of gestation. And according to Paul Cohen, they will begin to appear between week 13 and 21.
Sure, they will be more noticeable on fair-skinned women and believe it or not, genetics play a big role here, so if your mom had them, you will too.
It’s safe to say that a lot has changed when it comes to going through pregnancy, not only sleeping schedules have become chaotic! Your body’s changed too and that’s nothing to worry about, be proud of your body.
What are Stretch Marks?
Most women know what they are and what they look like, as we’ve been taught to avoid them at all costs due to imposed beauty standards. You may have seen treatment for these in magazines when you were younger too, as well as how to prevent them. Well, we’ve got some news for you, stretch marks are a natural occurrence. It’s only natural that your skin’s elastic fibers, as they stretch to keep up with your baby’s size, begin to break and tear causing baby beauty marks or stretch marks in your body.
Scientifically, they are known as striae distensae and they are these reddish, purplish and then white linear lesions, that can be found wherever the skin has stretched. The most common body parts to find them are breasts, thigs, abdomen, and buttocks. They are scars that occur within the dermal layer in your skin.
Difference Between Red and White Stretch Marks
There is a difference between stretch marks in a red or purplish state as opposed to white ones. Stretch marks that appear to be purple, are easier to erase and treat. While white ones are permanent. According to Healthline, purplish marks are easier to treat as they have are still functioning blood vessels, this makes them more responsive to treatment.
White stretch marks represent an older age, these blood vessels will narrow over time. This will make it more difficult to stimulate collagen production here. Even if you treat these, the results will not be as good as with red stretch marks.
This is why it’s important for you to treat them if this is what you decide, as soon as you see them in the red and purple state.
Stretch Marks in Statistics
Most women will develop stretch marks during the period of their first pregnancy. According to WEBMD moms on average, will gain about 1 ½ pound per week, and if you’re expecting twins, the number may double. Doing the math, throughout your pregnancy, you may probably gain about 30 pounds.
It’s only natural that this process will have an effect on your skin. Your baby bump is growing and this causes the effect of stretch marks.
However, this may not only occur in your belly area. Remember that on average breast tissue will also gain size (about 2-3 pounds on average). Stretch marks may start to appear on your breasts, thighs, buttocks and upper arms too.
How do Stretch Marks Progress in Time?
Regardless of how and why you started to notice them, these marks will always follow a natural course, progression wise. As the marks age (and become white) the fibers within them become thicker and so does the thickness of the dermal layer in your skin. However, stretch marks aren’t always the same for everyone affected by them, severity and development will vary. Remember that there is a big genetic component here.
What are the Risk Factors for Stretch Marks?
- Gaining weight over a short period of time
- Being female
- Having a history of other females in the family with stretch marks
- Being overweight
- Making use of corticosteroids
- Recently had a breast augmentation.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks
All of this leads us to one of the most important points. Can you actually prevent stretch marks? Unfortunately, there is no way you can prevent them, remember the genetic factor?
But, don’t worry, there are many things you can do to make your skin healthier and treat it to stay hydrated, which is very important to detain the development of stretch marks. If you are or ever been pregnant, you most likely experience how dry and itchy your belly feels, this is due to the skin stretching.
You’ll notice that preventive measures will be very important. Such as gaining the right amount of weight, staying hydrated, eating healthy and getting treatment as soon as you notice stretch marks will very much help, also, remember to contact your doctor if you start noticing a large number of marks. Your doctor will know what may be causing them and give you the right treatment options for your individual case.
5 Ways to “Prevent” Stretchmarks.
1. Gaining the Right Amount of Weight
One way of minimizing how your stretch marks appear is trying to gain the “right” amount of baby weight, in the right amount of time. How can you prevent a big spurt of weight? Well, even if you’ll be eating for more, it is recommended that you still try to maintain a healthy diet to try to gain “the right amount of weight” during your pregnancy. Visit your doctor or nutritionist for a diet that fits you best. The marks on your skin will also depend on how quickly you gain the weight as well as how much you gain
2. Drink Water & Stay Hydrated
If you stay hydrated, this will have a direct impact on your skin. It will stay not only hydrated, it will also feel soft and healthy. Dry skins tend to show more signs of stretch marks as opposed to hydrated skins. Plus, drinking tons of water will help you stay healthy.
3. Implement Vitamin C in your Diet
Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and tangerines. This vitamin is the nutrient for the development of collagen. Collagen is responsible for keeping your skin elastic and strong. This is why there are many antiaging products with collagen as a component. Vitamin C consumption will help you reduce stretch marks from appearing in larger quantities. You can also implement vitamins in the form of supplements.
4. Consume Vitamin D
A recent study found a correlation between the consumption of vitamin D and stretch marks. Even though it’s a start, it might be a sign that vitamin D should be consumed during pregnancy to help reduce stretch marks. It is found in mushrooms and various types of fish.
5. Treat them as Soon as they Appear
If you’re not comfortable with stretch marks, the best way to diminish their effect is by treating them as soon as they appear, the good thing is, you’ll have all the information you need in this article, so read on!
So now that you know some ways of prevention and/or preparation of your skin, it’s time we get into some of the ways you can heal or erase stretch marks after a pregnancy.
It’s Important you Focus on Fading your Stretch Marks
We never get tired of saying it: Yes, you can treat your stretch marks after they appear, but they won’t disappear completely.
This is why it’s important you know that any treatment will improve fading, but not the complete disappearance of stretch marks. Remember, the best time to treat them is as soon as they appear when they are in the reddish stage. It’s good to know that there is no magic spell, and it’s OK to start embracing the stretch marks as a new part of your body but still knowing there are ways you can help your body to heal them.
11 Ways to Heal and/or Erase Stretch Marks After a Pregnancy
We’ve come up with ten solutions, combining medical and natural alternative solutions for you to choose from:
1. Oil Massages
Other than relaxing, massaging your skin in the belly, hips, and breast is one of the most recommended ways to treat stretch marks, especially after a pregnancy. This will improve and increase blood flow and will break up scar tissue, which causes stretch marks. Use any stretch mark prevention oil with lots of vitamins and minerals so that you provide your skin only the best for its reparation.
2. Prenatal Belly Massaging.
This is one of the ways that goes hand in hand with some of the prevention techniques we went over. However, if you’ve just started to notice them while still pregnant, (as there is no guarantee you won’t ever get them) a prenatal belly massage can help minimize the number of marks as well as their severity. Massage your belly daily, for a few minutes, twice a day. This treatment will help prepare the skin before the trauma of stretching.
3. Aloe Vera Treatment
You must know aloe vera for many of its benefits and healing properties, especially when it comes to sunburns. Surprisingly enough, aloe vera also promotes healing in your skin. We recommend you use the fresh gel from the plant and not cremes from your local store. Rub the oil directly over the stretch mark and leave it for 15 minutes, after that wash it off with warm water, do this at least twice per day, it’ll help a lot!
4. Laser Treatments
Some are very serious about erasing stretch marks, this is why, if you really want to go all the way, you can consider laser treatments. The best? Pulsed dye laser treatments, which will get rid of the red, dark stretch marks. If you’re interested, speak to your dermatologist for recommendations. Some doctors recommend waiting 6 months postpartum before going into any of these treatments.
5. Preparing a Honey Scrub
If you’re interested in natural ways of treatment for stretch marks, honey is definitely something you’ll have at home. Honey has many antiseptic benefits and is known to reduce stretch marks. For this, you’ll need raw (unfiltered, unprocessed and organic) honey, which you can get in a natural food store. Apply some honey into a cloth, after that, place the cloth over your stretch marks and leave it there until the honey dries, finally, rinse with warm water.
6. Apply Ice
Remember what we said about stretch marks being scars? Well, throughout the healing process, they will cause swelling and inflammation. This will make them look even more unpleasant. Rub some ice over the marks, this will help relieve and reduce the inflammation. You can use a reusable ice pack, or simply place some ice cubes in a Ziploc bag and use that instead.
7. Exfoliate at least once per week
You can help your skin repair and rejuvenate itself by exfoliating anywhere you see stretch marks beginning to appear, at least once a week. This will help eliminate the top layer of skin where stretch marks are forming. You can buy naturally derived exfoliating creams at your local drug store, or you can use baking soda if you like natural solutions from home. Try exfoliating in the morning, after your skin completed its natural reparative process during sleep. Make sure you cover all the areas, such as thighs, belly, breast, and hips.
8. Retinol Creams
Retinoid based products are guaranteed to improve the look on those stretch marks, especially if you commence treatment as soon as they appear. The vitamin A in these products will greatly help to rebuild collagen and it’ll make your stretch marks look like your normal skin. We suggest you speak to your dermatologist for you to find the best brand of retinoid-based cream to start applying. If you were to need a higher-dose of formulation, you will need it to be prescribed by your doctor. This product should not be implemented while pregnant nor breastfeeding though as they aren’t safe.
9. Relax to Help your Skin Regenerate
When you’re stressed, your body starts to release hormones that interfere with your skin’s healing. Stress, believe it or not, slows the healing process after pregnancy. Yes, it might be difficult to just “relax” while your body is going through so much change, but mental health makes a big difference and it really takes a toll on your body in the long run. Try meditation, listening to music, reading a book, breathe and try to find your inner peace. You can even try a yoga class to combine relaxation and exercise, this will greatly help heal your stretch marks.
10. Glycolic Acid
This compound can be found in glycolic acid creams, which are also used for chemical peels for stretch mark treatment too. This is a more expensive option if, within your budget, you can definitely go for it. Just remember to ask your dermatologist and doctor for recommendations and see if this is the right solution for you. This treatment will improve the appearance of the stretch marks you already have, but will not prevent new ones from forming with time.
11. Give the treatment you choose the gift of time.
Being conscious that stretch marks won’t be erased overnight, is something that may be hard to accept. But once you do, it’ll really take some stress off your mind. Plus, these treatments, at the end of the day, are tiny gestures of kindness to yourself, just for you. A time in the day, whether you do these at home or go out, for self-care. Remember, you and your skin need time to heal.
Sure, many moms are proud of their stretch marks and wear them with pride, but as we mentioned before, this is your decision. If you feel uncomfortable and feel like you should treat them, you definitely should, plus it’s a great way to have some “me time”.
Remember though, stretch marks will often fade and become less perceptible to the eye. The treatments and preventions mentioned will not make your stretch marks disappear. Even if there aren’t products that have been scientifically proven to totally erase them, some of these treatments will be a good solution to help treat your skin, have it stay hydrated and smooth.
Either way, whichever path you choose: Embrace or fade, know you are beautiful in your new skin. Stay confident!