No one wants to get stretch marks, yet half of all women get them during pregnancy. What are your chances of getting these marks during pregnancy? Is there anything you can do to prevent them?
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are pink, red, or dark brown striations that appear on our bodies. They occur when the connective tissue under the skin is pulled by rapid growth or stretching. When skin is overstretched, the production of collagen (a protein that makes up connective tissue) is disrupted and striations form.
You do not have to be pregnant to get them. Many teenagers get them during the rapid growth of puberty. Men can also get them; it's especially common for body builders to have them.
On the plus side, striations usually fade to a silvery color that is hard to notice about a year after you deliver.
You are more likely to get them during pregnancy if:
- You gain a great deal of weight rapidly during your pregnancy.
- You are carrying multiples.
- You are carrying a large baby.
- You have excess amniotic fluid.
You can get stretch marks anywhere on your body. Popular spots for pregnant women include:
It seems as if there is a genetic predisposition for stretch marks. If your mother or sister got them, you are likely to get them too.
There is really no way to prevent stretch marks, other than gaining your pregnancy weight slowly and eating nutritiously.
There are many stretch mark creams and other skin products that claim to prevent striations. However, there is no proof that these creams work. On the plus side, these creams do help keep your skin moisturized and relieve itching.
Reducing the Appearance
Stretch marks are not pretty, especially after childbirth when you want to get your body back. However, there are some things you can do to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Some women find that sunless tanning treatments or cosmetic make-ups cover these striations. However, regular tanning or tanning beds make stretch marks appear worse since these marks are less likely to tan than regular skin.
You can also contact a dermatologist to help with stretch marks. He/she may be able to eliminate or lessen the appearance of your marks using surgery, microderm abrasion, or laser treatments.
Another thing you can try is using tretinoin cream (also known as Retin-A). A few studies that have shown applying 0.1 percent tretinoin cream may help with the appearance of striations. However, there is no information about whether it gets passed onto your baby in your breast milk. Do not use this cream if you are breastfeeding.
Stretch marks are a part of being pregnant for many women. Though they may seem horrible at the time, they do fade. No matter how much money you may spend on striation creams, there is little evidence that they work. However, there are treatments available after you deliver that can help with your striations.