Many women who have been through one or more pregnancies have more than their memories and photographs as permanent reminders - those unwelcome stretch marks. These marks often show as purple or red lines or dark horizontal threads along the skin of the abdomen.
These marks can become permanent blotches or scars. It has been estimated that between 70 % and 90 % of all pregnant women get some form of stretch marks on their bodies during the latter part of their pregnancies. The frequency is higher in white and fair skinned women (90 %) develop stretch marks during pregnancy.
Generally stretch marks appear as angry red lines on your bulging stomach usually during the 6th or 7 th month of pregnancy. Stretch marks also can show up on the buttocks, upper thighs, breasts and rarely on your arms and other places depending on where the weight gain occurs.
Stretch marks are caused by over-stretching the skin during late stages of pregnancy leading to small tears. Pregnancy stretch marks are actually small tears in the skin in the proteins collagen and elastin -the molecules that supports the skin tone and allow it to stretch. The skin is forced to expand rapidly beyond the limits of its elasticity. This causes tiny tears in the supporting layers of skin.
Pregnancy stretch marks most frequently occur on the breasts, abdomen, thighs or buttocks.
The various things that determine whether or not a woman will get stretch marks during pregnancy include:
There are a number of specially developed specific stretch mark creams that can provide temporary treatment for stretch marks. Many of these creams contain wheat germ oil, cocoa butter, lanolin and similar natural oils. These creams help to heal the stretch marks in the skin by rebuilding its structure. The use of concealing or camouflaging cosmetics on the affected area can help to hide the stretch mark scars while they are being treated.
One of the modern permanent treatments for stretch marks is laser therapy. These simple treatments are quick and painless and often require very little recovery time. Laser treatments work because the laser repairs the natural synthesis of collagen in the skin. Collagen is an essential naturally occurring protein that rejuvenates and repairs skin tissue. Cosmetic laser treatments stimulate the natural replacement of collagen. The laser treatment also seals broken blood vessels, removes damaged skin tissue and repairs the fibres that occur in the middle skin layers. Laser treatments can be very helpful in removing the stretch marks. However these treatments can be very expensive.
Blue light therapy using a UV light is a less expensive option. This treatment uses a gel applied to the skin and the blue light to treat stretch marks. Plastic surgery is another option for the permanent removal of stretch marks.
A relatively new treatment is the use of specially developed chemical compounds that are known as retinoids - for example tretinoin, retinaldehyde or isotretinoin. When used under appropriate medical supervision, these treatments have been very successful in the treatment of stretch marks. It must made very clear that retinoic acid should never be applied to the skin at any time during pregnancy. Also there is no information to confirm that the use of retinoic acid is safe during breastfeeding. Another approach is to simply wait for the stretch marks to fade by themselves. In many women the stretch marks fade to small and thin silvery lines.
For many women the best stretch mark prevention technique is follow a strict exercise routine. Try to aim for appropriate exercises for about 30 minutes about 3 to 5 days a week. Otherwise aim to exercise for about 10-15 minutes a day. Many exercises can be done while watching the news on television at night or with a group of friends. Joining a gym is a good idea as you will get the right exercises and commit yourself to a regular schedule.
Many women have been helped by using a proven anti-striae cream, also known as a stretch mark cream, being careful to use directed. You may find it helpful to use a special cream, or moisturizing lotions in conjunction with diet and exercise as part of a complete package. Do some research and find the right preventative creams that has been proven to prevent stretch marks.
Help yourself now, and start your prevention strategy before it is too late. Prevention is much better than treatment and so get started early and stick to your plan. Stop it from getting so bad that it begins to affect your self esteem and self confidence. Avoid costly laser treatments and cosmetic surgery.