Although stretch marks are harmless, some women find it bothersome. Stretch marks are permanent. However, various skincare methods can help manage stretch marks after baby.
Stretch Marks Defined
As your baby begins to grow in utero, the skin may develop noticeable reddish or brownish lines — these are called striae or, more commonly, stretch marks.
Ideally, pregnant women should experience a weight gain of 25-35 pounds during 9 months of pregnancy. Unfortunately, the baby grows faster than the rate mom can develop new skin cells; thus, the skin will be pulled tight, tearing its middle layer. This layer is called the dermis, which is just below the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) .
Stretch marks usually start to show in the 6th or 7th month of pregnancy. During this time, your baby will experience sudden growth spurts that a mom’s stretching skin might not be able to accommodate. Stretch marks are commonly found in the abdomen. However, they can also develop on the breasts, buttocks, arms, hips, thighs, and even knees in some instances.
Stretch Marks: More Common Than You Think
There are a handful of mothers who might not develop stretch marks during their pregnancy. However, around 90% of pregnant women will experience this phenomenon. It’s not clear why some women don’t develop stretch marks during pregnancy. But for those who do, there’s scientific evidence suggesting a genetic factor. If your mother developed them while you were in her womb, you will probably develop them as well.
Stretch marks are more common in pregnant women. However, anyone can develop them, even men. They typically appear when there’s rapid weight gain. Males or non-pregnant women can develop them during puberty, while taking certain types of medications, or during intense workouts.
The reality is that stretch marks, typically, cannot be prevented. And they are permanent once you have them. There is no scientific evidence that upholds the notion that a particular skincare product will erase the marks.
However, there are steps to manage or minimize the dark stripes once your baby is born.
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Managing Stretch Marks Using Natural Products
Again, while stretch marks cannot be cured with skincare products, having a great skincare routine is one way of lightening your stretch marks after baby. While stretch marks don’t go away completely, natural products and home remedies may improve the appearance of, especially new stretch marks, to make them less noticeable. But before trying anything, it’s best if you consult with your doctor first, especially if you are breastfeeding or have very sensitive skin. Below are some natural products you can try to treat stretch marks.
Cocoa butter is excellent for skin care. It’s rich in stearic acid and vitamins A and E. These ingredients improve skin elasticity and can soften stretch marks. It’s easily absorbed by the skin, including the middle layer. This is the layer where tearing of the skin occurs, and the result is stretch marks. Massaging cocoa butter on your skin during and after pregnancy may help lighten newly formed stretch marks.
Coconut oil may also improve the skin’s appearance. Coconut oil makes the skin softer and more supple. This may make stretch marks less noticeable.
Rosehip oil is a popular component in some skincare products because of its regenerative properties on damaged skin. It’s commonly used in products for acne, dermatitis, sunburn, and wrinkles, and light scarring.
Fresh aloe vera gel is a popular natural remedy for sunburnt skin. But its healing properties also extend to scarring. Aloe vera gel makes skin softer and easier for damaged cells to heal. It may help soothe itchy stretch marks.
Natural honey is gaining popularity for its use in exfoliating the skin because of its antiseptic properties. Skin exfoliation, which removes dead skin cells, may help lighten the appearance of stretch marks.
Lemon juice is commonly used when healing minor skin conditions because of its natural acidic properties. It is also known to lessen skin discoloration, which often comes with stretch marks.
Medical Stretch Mark Treatment Procedures
Apart from using home remedies in reducing stretch marks after baby, there are also other treatment procedures that you can discuss with your doctor or dermatologist. However, while the results are promising, it depends on a number of variables. And as with any cosmetic procedure, there may be risks .
Laser or light therapy
One treatment for stretch marks that is gaining in popularity is laser or light therapy. Light therapy uses intense pulsed dye lasers that can increase the production of collagen over time. Collagen is an essential protein in the body that promotes bone strength and skin elasticity.
While laser therapy appears to be fairly effective in reducing the visibility of the scars, you need to undergo up to 20 sessions to see a significant improvement in the appearance of your stretch marks. The procedure is also quite expensive.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
This type of treatment is said to rejuvenate the skin and promotes healing of soft tissues. Immediately before a PRP procedure, platelet-rich plasma is taken from your blood, and this concentration of platelets is then injected into the part of the body being treated. Studies show that PRP therapy is quite effective .
Like laser therapy, PRP is also a bit costly. The price may also vary depending on your location and the expertise of your medical practitioner. You also have to be given multiple injections, which will be given 2 to 3 months apart.
This procedure involves the use of a small device with an abrasive brush, called a dermabrader. This motorized device is used to carefully remove the outer layers of skin, including dirt and dead skin cells. Anesthetics may be needed to numb the skin. If your condition requires extensive treatment, you may be given a sedative or may receive general anesthesia.
The purpose of this procedure is to allow the treated area to heal and grow a smoother layer of skin. It is specifically designed to reduce the visibility of wrinkles and scars.
Plastic surgery is sometimes recommended for sagging skin or severe skin pigmentation. The surgery tightens your skin tissue by removing excess skin. While plastic surgery is not specifically done to eliminate stretch marks, the treatment of the marks becomes an added benefit.
However, just like dermabrasion, this procedure is not for everyone. There are considerations before you can be a candidate for plastic surgery, such as the following:
- Good health
- Stable weight
- Non-smoker (Smokers are prone to scarring and don’t heal fast)
- Realistic expectations
If you don’t have sagging or loose skin, then plastic surgery may not be for you. Talk to your doctor for the best treatment available specifically for you. Or, try the various natural methods that may help make stretch marks more manageable, especially when new marks are itchy.
Managing Stretch Marks: Other Considerations
Keeping hydrated is a key to good health is probably cliché, but it is true. This is the simplest and cheapest way of treating your skin. It’s a good way of staying healthy during pregnancy and when you’re already nursing your little bundle of joy. Drinking enough water ensures that your skin is hydrated, and it improves its elasticity. If the skin is hydrated and supple, it will feel less irritated.
The suggested amount of water to be consumed is about eight glasses daily. This includes pregnant women. However, if you reside in warmer regions, you may need to drink a few glasses, as water is lost through perspiration. Never wait till you feel thirsty before you drink water. Thirst is a sign of dehydration. So, drink water on a regularly regardless if you feel thirsty.
Maintain a healthy diet
You’ve probably heard that a healthy diet is a gateway to improved quality of life. If you have good health, other things will follow. These may include a relatively low-stress level, a high sense of well-being, and enhanced ability of the body to repair itself from minor damages.
A good start is eating vegetables and fruits. As much as possible, keep away from processed and sugary food and drinks. If you have vitamin or nutrient deficiencies, you may take food supplements, but consult a health practitioner so you can be informed of the side effects. Although a healthy diet will not rid you of stretch marks, you’ll feel better about your overall self.
Conclusion About Stretch Marks After Baby
Stretch marks on women during pregnancy are very common. While they are not a serious health concern, some women prefer they go away. There are various methods and treatment to manage these marks. The methods take time and money, and may not altogether remove the marks. The beautiful thing about having stretch marks is the reminder of the miracle of your child you have been blessed to experience and the chance to celebrate your body.
Stretch Marks After Baby Resources American Academy of Dermatology Association; Stretch marks: Why they appear and how to get rid of them.
 Mayo Clinic; Stretch marks,Mayo Clinic Staff.
 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; Clinical and immunohistochemical comparative study of the efficacy of carboxytherapy vs platelet-rich plasma in treatment of stretch marks,Hodeib AA, Hassan GFR, Ragab MNM, Hasby EA, January 7, 2018.