What Causes Pregnancy Stretch Marks and How to Treat Them
Even with the excitement of having a new child in your family, pregnancy has its set of unbearable problems you have to face for the next nine months. You’re constantly tired, and you suddenly become a peeing machine that goes to the bathroom for what seems like a thousand times a day – not to mention the endless doctor appointments you have to go to.
Perhaps the biggest annoyance we face during and after pregnancy are the stretch marks that seem to appear out of nowhere. Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy stretch marks and how to deal with them.
What Do Pregnancy Stretch Marks Look Like
Stretch marks, called striae distensae (or striae gravidarum when referring to pregnancy stretch marks) are marks that occur when your skin stretches out. When your skin experiences rapid growth and expansion, your skin is pulled tight over new fat or muscle that is formed beneath it.
90% of women will experience stretch marks during their pregnancy. Your body changes rapidly as you go through pregnancy. One of the main changes you may encounter is rapid weight gain. The skin gets pushed to its limit, creating small tears in its supporting tissue. The resulting scars are the marks you see on the surface of your skin. A study from the British Journal of Dermatology showed that though the skin makes efforts to repair the scars, they’re often unsuccessful, leaving uneven bumps.
Another, though still much debated, reason pregnancy stretch marks form is due to the increased levels of hormones in pregnancy. The body increases the level of hormones to prime to skin for birth, attracting more water into the skin, and relaxing the bonds between collagen fibers. Because the bonds in the skin is now weaker, it makes it succeptible to tearing when stretched, allowing stretch marks to form.
Stretch marks are bands of skin that appear as thin streaks that look like scars. They look different on each woman, depending on your skin tone. Fairer skinned women tend to have more pinkish looking pregnancy stretch marks, while darker skinned women appear to have more reddish or purple hued stretch marks, typically lighter than the surrounding skin.
Expect stretch marks during pregnancy to appear on the tummy or breasts. They may also manifest on your buttocks, arms, and thighs.
What to Expect
Stretch marks are bands of skin that appear as thin streaks that look like scars. They may appear reddish or purple as they start to develop, too. Expect stretch marks during pregnancy to appear on the tummy or breasts. They may also manifest on your buttocks, arms, and thighs.
Your body changes rapidly as you go through pregnancy. One of the changes you may encounter is rapid weight gain. The skin gets pushed to its limit, creating small tears in its supporting tissue. The resulting scars are the marks you see on the surface of your skin. A study from the British Journal of Dermatology showed that though the skin makes efforts to repair the scars, they’re often unsuccessful, leaving uneven bumps.
Stretch marks are harmless, and most women get it during their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. They might itch from time to time, though.
Over time, the stretch marks will grow in length (as you and your baby grow in size as well) and become deeper in color). Don’t be scared when they start changing in color as this is totally normal and is part of the process.
Stretch marks after pregnancy will lose their reddish/pink color, and will gradually fade into pale white or silver streaks. They will continue fading after you give birth and, depending on your skin color, will become barely noticeable as time goes on.
Side Note on Prevention: All in the Genes
Pregnancy stretch mark prevention will always be better than the cure, but it’s unfortunately impossible when it comes to stretch marks. Well, if your mom didn’t have any streaks during pregnancy, the blessing might be passed on to you. A recent study by genetic testing and analysis company 23andMe suggested that genes may be a factor in the formation of stretch marks.
The paper surveyed over 30,000 of their European customers and divided them into case (had stretch marks) and control (didn’t have stretch marks) groups. Researchers found that people who have defects in their “ELN gene” are likely to get stretch marks. This gene encodes a protein called “elastin,” which is mainly responsible for the elasticity of the skin. If the skin is less elastic, there’s a good chance that its tissues will tear because of sudden growth.
Pregnancy Body Care
While there’s no way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show your body extra TLC during those crucial months. Your skin will need extra attention as it goes through all the drastic changes of pregnancy, so it’s important to keep it moisturized and hydrated.
Liberally slather on some lotion, cream or oil to make your skin feel supple and smooth. This will also help reduce the itch that comes with the rapid growth of your belly.
Another important tip is to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water. Eating well and avoiding processed food is also a good way to ensure your body gains weight gradually instead of rapidly, which helps reduce the amount of pregnancy stretch marks your body develops.
Naturally Getting Rid of Stretch Marks
The best way you can remove pregnancy stretch marks is by minimizing their appearance. Some of them fade into hardly-noticeable lines on their own. If you’re still pregnant, there’s not much you can do to treat it aside from keeping the affected areas moisturized. This may help prevent scars from itching.
Another way to lessen stretch marks is by watching what you eat. Proper nutrition is key to maintaining healthy skin, especially when you get food rich in Vitamin C. Eating well also helps in keeping your weight in check. Remember that stretch marks happen because the skin is given little time to adapt to sudden growth. Give the largest organ in your body a little breathing room by watching your calorie intake. Ask your doctor if they can refer a nutritionist that will help you maintain a steady diet.
Opting for Laser Therapy
If you have the budget, laser therapy is a great option for treating your stretch marks. This process uses an infrared light that is beamed on the scars. It reduces the visibility of the streaks by softening and flattening them. It usually takes 20 sessions to see a noticeable difference, though.
The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) says that laser therapy promotes collagen for continuous skin production. The society also claims that it reduces inflammation and improves blood circulation in the area that the stretch marks were treated. However, risks like severe pain, swelling, discoloration, and further scarring could happen if the dermatologist isn’t well-versed in the procedure. Look for a doctor that specializes in dermatologic surgery to minimize these risks.
It’s perfectly safe, however, to see a pink or reddish hue on the treated area for a few hours after going to the clinic. It’s also normal to feel a slight stinging pain in the same area, too, though this usually subsides within four to six hours. And if you see any mild swelling, it will usually disappear within several days. Keep the area moisturized with lotion a day after your treatment to assist with the healing process.
Using Creams and Oils
People often turn to retinoid creams because of their ability to rebuild collagen in the skin. Experts from MayoClinic say that retinoid products should be used on stretch marks that haven’t subsided yet. However, it shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. It’s best to apply them if you still see red streaks on your body after giving birth.
Products with Aloe Vera and Asian Centella like Linovera Oil can moisturize and repair the skin. To apply these products, you should massage them into your skin. Massaging the affected area with oil may also help in making stretch marks less visible. Studies have found that massaging helps break down the scar tissue that has accumulated while simulatenously increasing the blood circulation in the area, which helps reduce the overall appearance of stretch marks. Massaging also helps promote new tissue growth and breaks down the bands of collagen the form in the underlying tissue (the tissue which creates stretch marks).
- Aloe Vera and its Benefits
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that is used to treat wounds, hemorrhoids, and even constipation (when taken orally), according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Its clear gel is used in many skin care products today. It’s used as a remedy for conditions like psoriasis, cold sores, rashes, surgical wounds, and more.
- Centella Asiatica: a Wonder Herb
Centella Asiatica, also known as “Gotu Kola,” is an herb used in Indian and Chinese medicine for decades. Like aloe vera, it primarily heals wounds by increasing collagen formation in the affected area. A recent pharmacological review showed the versatility of this plant. Apart from its ability to repair skin abrasions, it’s also beneficial in treating inflammation when applied to the infected area. The review showed that Centella Asiatica might be useful in relieving anxiety when consumed orally.
Like aloe vera,Centella Asiatica cam also heal wounds by increasing collagen formation in the affected area. A recent pharmacological review showed the versatility of this plant. Apart from its ability to repair skin abrasions, it’s also beneficial in treating inflammation when applied to the infected area. The review showed that Centella Asiatica might be useful in relieving anxiety when consumed orally.
Another review on the benefits of this herb cited a study about its positive effects in preventing stretch marks from showing up during pregnancy. The researchers tested this on 100 pregnant women. Half of the respondents used a placebo on their abdomen and breasts. The other half used Centella Asiatica extract. Results showed that 56% of the women in the placebo group developed stretch marks, while only 14 respondents in the Centella Asiatica group had the streaks. The study concluded that the herb gives ample protection against stretch marks.
Centella Asiatica ability to reduce stretch marks is due to the presence of titernene saponins, a compound that helps keep skin firmer and tighter, as well as phytonutrients called flavonoids which act as antioxidants which negates the damage done by free radicals.
Centella Asiatica has also been found to be able to promote blood circulation, speeding up the skins healing process. Faster healing process means less visible scars, be it cellulite, acne scars, or pregnancy stretch marks!
Centella Asiaticais safe to use for pregnancy stretch marks as a pregnancy stretch marks treatment after you’ve given birth.
To apply Centella Asiatica oil, simply massage it into the affected areas.
Wearing Your Stripes With Pride
You might have noticed that none of these procedures, except plastic surgery, promise to obliterate your stretch marks completely. They all work by blending your stretch marks with the surrounding skin. It doesn’t mean that you should say goodbye to your swimsuit or your crop top after pregnancy. It’s all about finding confidence in your own skin. Embrace your scars and let them remind you how far you’ve come in your journey of motherhood.
About Linovera Oil
Whether you like it or not, pregnancy will give you skin problems beyond stretch marks. You might experience breakouts of acne and rashes that will leave your skin dry and damaged. Linovera Oil rehydrates and repairs your skin with a mix of oxygenated fatty acids, Aloe Vera, and Asian Centella. It softens and smooths out your skin, no matter how fragile it is. Linovera Oil can serve as a one-stop shop for all of your skin concerns. This fast-absorbing oil is packed with nutrients to restore moisture in your skin with just a few drops. Best of all, Linovera Oil works anywhere in your body. Use it for your hair, nails, face, and stretch marks.
Linovera Oil is available in the store for ₱999.00. Get it here.