How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks After Pregnancy

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Stretch marks after pregnancy used to be considered a badge of honor every Victorian-era mother knew was part of her sacrifice to have her children. Twenty-first century women, however, don’t necessarily want to give up their bikinis after they give birth. Stretch marks during pregnancy often can be prevented, and any stretch marks missed during pregnancy can be treated after the baby is born.

How are Stretch Marks Formed?

Stretch marks are caused by tears in the middle layer of skin. The result is a thinner layer of skin on top and the appearance of stretch marks. The tears are caused when the skin stretches past its elasticity point, as often happens during pregnancy. These tears are often very difficult to treat once they appear.

These marks first appear as reddish or purplish lines, but eventually fade away to silver or white. They are most common on the stomach, hips, thighs, and upper arms. During pregnancy the skin stretches too quickly to avoid the tearing in the middle layer of skin, resulting in these lines.

How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

The best tools for preventing stretch marks during pregnancy are also the least expensive. Mother’s Friend Stretch Mark Cream, for instance, is an inexpensive lanolin-based cream that keeps the skin supple so that stretch marks are less likely to form in the first place.

Palmer’s Stretch Mark Cream is especially useful for women who have dry skin. Its golden tint blends well with yellow, brown, and black skin tones, and it’s blend of shea and cocoa butters.

Revitol provides vitamins A, B, and D in a safe form, with the moisturizing ingredient squalene.

Perhaps the best way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, however, is gentle, daily massage. Pregnant women should not receive Swedish or deep tissue massage, and it is not necessary to hurt the skin to stimulate the growth of collagen that prevents stretch mark formation.

After you have first used a dab of the product on a test site to make you are not allergic to any of its ingredients, try using any of the products listed above as a massage cream, gently massaging the breasts and flanks for several minutes two or three times a day. Of course, this massage is more effective it is done by the partner, not by the mother herself.

How to Treat Stretch Marks After Pregnancy

The best treatment for stretch marks occurring during pregnancy is to deliver the baby. Stretch marks are usually much less prominent immediately after the baby is born.

After the baby is born, however, roller massage treatments are much more useful in getting rid of stretch mark.

Stainless steel massage rollers are studded with tiny pins, just 1 mm (1/25 of an inch) long. These pins are long enough to irritate the skin, but not long enough to break the skin (unless the roller is used with far too much pressure). The idea is to increase the production of collagen in the skin so that stretch marks fill from the inside out. It is neither necessary nor helpful to roll so hard that you need a numbing cream or you draw blood. Roller massage should be uncomfortable, not painful.

Stretch mark creams that contain the herb Gotu Kola, such as Mederma, amplify the stimulation of collagen by massage. It also helps to use moisturizers every day and exfoliants every week to keep the skin soft and supple.

Home microdermabrasion kits are useful for women whose stretch marks are still red or purple, but less helpful for women whose stretch marks have turned white.

Some of the most effective medical treatments for stretch marks are only available to women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Drugs more commonly used to treat acne, such as Accutane, Retin-A, and Diferin, stimulate rapid growth of the skin that can fill in stretch marks. They are potentially dangerous to the baby during pregnancy, however, and they require careful monitoring for safety.

Women who pay careful attention to skin care during pregnancy may not develop stretch marks at all. Women who use at-home treatment methods usually get good results without the need for medical care. For the fastest (and most expensive) removal of stretch marks, however, see your dermatologist for laser surgery.