Treating Stretch Marks During and After Pregnancy

Knowing a bit about stretch marks can help you understand what's going on and how to get rid of stretch marks or drastically reduce how they appear when you're pregnant.

What Are Stretch Marks?

Pregnant with stretch marks
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A stretch mark is actually where the elastin and collagen fibers tear from stretching during periods of hormonal changes; it is a scar.

  • Abdomen
  • Breasts
  • Thighs
  • Arms

You can get stretch marks any time you experience a change in weight or during a period of growth. The most frequent times to see stretch marks include:

  • During puberty
  • When you are pregnant
  • During periods of significant weight gain

You probably knew about the pregnancy part of stretch marks. But you may have been blessed with skipping them during puberty. Or you may have stretch marks and have never really noticed them before. You may also have never had a period of large or rapid weight gain in your life.

Preventing Stretch Marks in Pregnancy

Certainly, there is a lot of talk about preventing stretch marks in pregnancy. While there are absolutely steps you can take to try to minimize stretch marks in pregnancy, true prevention is technically not possible for every mother. Some of what will determine whether or not you get stretch marks is genetic.

Do you have a family history of really awful stretch marks? If yes, you may be fighting a really hard battle, but there are things that you can do that may help you avoid severe stretch marks.

  • Eat well.
    Healthy skin has fewer stretch marks. Good nutrition is a part of that process.
  • Creams and lotions.
    This is partly old wives tale and partly comfort measure, but keeping your belly lathered up is never a bad idea.
  • Watch the weight gain.
    Try to gain weight slowly and steadily. You should also avoid excess weight gain.

Timing Is Everything in Treating Stretch Marks

Stretch marks have a life cycle. At first, they are red, purple, and brightly colored. At this point in the life cycle of a stretch mark, they are called striae Rubra. During this phase, they are easier to treat. This gives you more flexibility in how you can deal with them.

After time has passed, the stretch marks change. They become fainter in color, an almost silvery white. At this point, they are known as striae alba. Once they have reached the alba phase, they are much harder to treat. Therefore it is important to treat them as soon as possible for the maximum benefit.

Retinol Creams and Lotions for Stretch Marks After Pregnancy

Before you have your baby, talk to your doctor or midwife about the treatment of stretch marks. To get rid of your stretch marks, early treatment will be the most beneficial.

Most of the inexpensive options, creams, and lotions for treating stretch marks contain vitamin A derivatives, which cannot be used in pregnancy because of the potential to cause birth defects.

Retinol is the ingredient that you are looking for in your over the counter creams and lotions. These are more frequently found in face creams, so if you need to use face cream, that is fine. Though this option can be more costly because it is designed to cover a smaller area.

Retinol works by trying to stimulate collagen production. It can take up to six weeks before you see any effect from this treatment on your stretch marks. These treatments will cost anywhere from $15-$80 per bottle depending on the brand. If you visit a dermatologist, they may also prescribe Retin-A, a prescription form of retinol.

Other Creams and Lotions for Stretch Marks After Pregnancy

If you find that retinol or Retin-A creams and lotions are irritating to your skin and stretch marks, like peeling, you may wish to find other over the counter options. There are many products on the market that contain a variety of products that claim to help minimize stretch marks, including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Onion extract
  • Centella Asiatica

These creams and lotions may be more beneficial in your quest to get rid of stretch marks. While they are over the counter products, you may still want to talk to your medical professionals for their advice.

Lasers for Stretch Marks

As with many things, the more effective the treatment, the more costly. Laser stretch mark removal falls into this category. It is the most effective, but the most costly. This should be reserved for when you are done having children. There are different types of lasers that can be used, this is determined by the type of stretch marks you have: rubra or alba.

These laser treatments to get rid of stretch marks can cost $400-800 per visit. You may need to visit the dermatologist three or more times to see results. This is not something that is often covered by your insurance company and so the costs are out of your own pocket.

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