Do you know that stretch marks after pregnancy are a reality you have to live with? Even before you became pregnant, you must have heard and maybe worried about stretch marks and stretch mark removal treatment. Where it is your mom telling you or you must have seen a celebrity proudly showing off theirs on Instagram – stretch marks have become fairly common these days.
They have become nearly synonymous with childbirth and pregnancy, just like morning sickness and dirty diapers. Anyone can develop stretch marks, both men and women can develop these scars.
But though they are famous as they are, they are also a mystery to most. Why do some people get more pregnancy stretch marks than others? If you have them, is it because you did something wrong? And is it true that you can fix them? Discussed below are answers to a few of your questions.
There are several ways to heal pregnancy stretch marks. With these simple treatments for stretch marks, you can focus more on your newborn baby than on your skin care routine.
What Causes Pregnancy Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks, also known as ‘striae gravidarum’ in pregnancy, are basically a type of scar. They appear as indented streaks on the surface of your skin. They are generally pink in color. It all depends on how they are caused and where they are located in your body. When stretch marks first show up, they might also be itchy.
What causes them? Like their name suggests, these marks develop as your skin stretches quickly. This stretching actually tears away from your supportive structures in the bottom or middle layer of tissues of your skin that result in scars.
Stretch marks usually happen during growth spurts, like when you have a rapid weight gain or during pregnancy. In fact, more than 90 percent of pregnant women get stretch marks by the time they reach the third trimester. Usually, these scars appear on your belly, buttocks, breasts, and thighs. Though stretch marks on breast is common. But luckily, not everyone gets stretch marks, and not everyone gets them with the same level of severity.
A study suggests that some people are just genetically more prone to getting stretch marks compared to others. So in case anyone in the family got them during their pregnancy, there is a good chance they might also have them. A hormone called cortisone; can weaken your skin’s elasticity, making stretch marks more likely to appear.
Another research confirmed that you are more likely to get stretch marks during pregnancy if you are younger or if you gain weight (weight loss) too quickly. This is primarily because – the hormone levels during pregnancy can also play a role.
Is Pregnancy Stretch Mark Removal Possible?
Many believe that stretch marks are not removed. Like any other kind of scar, stretch marks are permanent. You will not be able to get rid of them completely. This might not be very pleasant for you to hear. It might be hard to accept that your body has changed forever – even if the change occurred due to something as amazing as childbirth.
But here is some good news. Most stretch marks will fade away naturally and even disappear on their own after your baby is born. Moreover, you can explore different treatments after discussing with your doctor.
But do not worry. There is hope for stretch-mark free, smooth skin. You can follow these therapies to heal your pregnancy stretch marks in no time.
What are The Ways for Stretch Mark Removal?
It seems that treating early stretch marks is more effective than treating ones that have become old. This is as per a study published in 2017. So if possible, try to start your treatment early (medically reviewed). Do not get discouraged if you did not know, though. It is never too late to start.
Remember, not every treatment will work the same for everyone. Hence it is a good idea to discuss with your doctor or dermatologist. They can discuss the different options and help you figure out the best treatment plan for your skin.
Here are a few options that you might explore:
1 Chemical Peels for Stretch Mark Removal
A chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure used to exfoliate your skin. They are generally performed by your doctor, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon.
Your doctor would generally use glycolic acid peels to stimulate collagen production in your affected area. This kind of peel can be effective in treating your stretch marks. Glycolic acid can be effective for scars in general(as it prevent stretch marks), although more research is needed specifically in this area.
2 Laser Therapy
Laser therapy is a medical treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to reduce your pain, swelling, and scarring. Numerous studies have confirmed that laser therapy can lessen the appearance of stretch marks as they increase collagen production, thickening the epidermal layer and restoring elastin fibers.
However, you need to understand that laser therapy can be expensive and you might have to wait for repeated treatments before you see drastic results. But the side effects are minimal.
Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure that your dermatologists will use to improve skin tone and texture. The procedure is often used to treat acne scars, sun damage, age spots, wrinkles, and other skin-related conditions.
Studies have found that microdermabrasion is relatively effective at reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
4 Microneedling for Stretch Mark Removal
Microneedling is more of a skin care method that can help reduce wrinkles and scars. The procedure uses fine needles to puncture your skin. As these tiny injuries heal over time, they can rejuvenate your skin. It is usually done over a series of five to six sessions.
A study in 2021 found that microneedling can effectively improve your early and late stretch marks over a four-week period. A second study found that stretch marks lessened after one to four treatments. Another study also suggested that microneedling seems to work better than microdermabrasion.
Radiofrequency is a popular non-invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency waves to heat your deeper skin layers. The procedure attempts to activate your body’s natural wound healing process thus helping to remove the scars. In addition, the treatment stimulates the production of collagen and tightens your skin which has lost its elasticity.
One small study in 2014 found that radiofrequency helped to reduce the width and the length of stretch marks. Another study found that radiofrequency used in combination with ultrasound could lessen the appearance of your stretch marks. If you are really interested in exploring the radiofrequency treatment, talk with your dermatologist to see whether the procedure is suitable for stretch mark removal treatment.
Home Remedies Pregnancy Stretch Mark Removal
1 Massage With Oil
Oil massage the skin of your belly, hips, and bust is perhaps one of the best ways to treat stretch marks after pregnancy. If you message gently, it can increase blood flow in your blood vessels and break up the scar tissue that might cause the stretch marks. You can use other oils during the massage and give your skin the vitamins and nutrients it needs to repair itself. The property of cocoa butter can also help in skin regeneration thus helping to overcome stretch marks.
2 Stay Hydrated To Treat Pregnancy Stretch Marks
Staying hydrated is probably the best way to remove stretch marks. So drink plenty of water. The water you drink provides your skin with the hydration necessary to remain healthy.
When your skin cells have the right supply of water, they are able to function properly and repair themselves more efficiently. In simple terms, this means your skin is better able to recover from pregnancy stretch marks. Your doctor would suggest drinking at least eight cups of water every day to keep your skin cells hydrated.
3 Exercise To Improve Skin & Muscle Tone
Exercise can be an effective method to repair and reduce stretch marks after pregnancy. Even light exercise, like yoga and walking, can strengthen the muscles of your thighs, hips, and belly. If you strengthen those muscles, it would help to tighten your loose, stretch-marked skin and promote faster healing.
Any exercise will work, so pick the one you enjoy. There are so many options to choose from, like swimming, walking, weight training, running, yoga, and pilates. Depending on your fitness level, start slowly and gradually increase the levels.
4 Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Moisture is perhaps the most important component of a healthy skin care routine. It has many benefits as it keeps your skin smooth, helps maintain your skin’s protective outer layer, and most importantly, preserves your skin’s elasticity. And an added bonus, it helps your heal stretch marks, too. Hyaluronic acid is known as a potent moisturizer recommended by many dermatologist. Even healthline media has the same opinion.
Doctors recommend choosing your skin care products carefully while you are still breastfeeding. You can use a hypoallergenic soothing cream, twice a day is an easy and effective way to ensure your skin is adequately moisturized. These healing stretch mark creams have powerful ingredients like ceramides that strengthen your stretch-marked skin, ease itchiness, and boosts elasticity.
The Bottom Line
Everyone’s body is different, and they heal differently, so it is important to try to be patient. Your recovery will also depend on how severe and dense your stretch marks were and what treatment option you decide to try. Remember, not every procedure will work as well for you as it would for someone else. If you’re concerned, talk it out in detail with your doctor.
Having a baby is a big deal in your life. Remember, your body has just undergone a lot, bringing your little one into the world. Those stretch marks are a testament to what you went through, and there are no reasons to be ashamed of them.