Stretch marks, or striae gravidarum, are so common during pregnancy that many mothers wear them as badges of honor. However, even strong maternal pride doesn’t keep women from feeling self-conscious about how their abdomens look. Whether donning bikinis or wearing their birthday suits, most long for the days when their tummies were taught and absolutely blemish-free. The good news is that pregnancy doesn’t have to result in severely damaged belly skin. There are a number of things that you can do to prevent these scars and many strategies for making them fade.
Keep Your Skin Hydrated
Much like their name implies, stretch marks are the result of rapid and excessive stretching of the skin. They form when the skin is pushed beyond the limits of its natural elasticity. When stretching is severe, the elastic fibers beneath the skin’s surface break. The new collagen that the body produces to replace these broken fibers tends to be a lot less pliable and firm. This leads to collagen stores with a slightly different texture, and indentations or raised scars. To keep your skin supple and resilient, drink plenty of water and eat lots of fresh, water-dense foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables won’t just keep your skin optimally hydrated, they’ll also supply a generous array of antioxidants and other skin-supporting nutrients.
Stretch marks are most likely to form during periods of rapid growth or expansion. Given that stretch marks are essentially scars, it isn’t always possible to make them totally disappear once they’ve formed. Diligent prevention is far more effective than using corrective efforts to repair skin after significant scarring has occurred.
Does Everyone Get Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?
Whether or not stretch marks will develop during pregnancy is dependent upon a variety of factors. Among these are how durable and elastic the skin is at the start of gestation, how well expecting moms care for themselves in general, and how they carry their babies. Some women never form stretch marks during pregnancy. Others develop dark, noticeable marks early on. Women with lighter complexions tend to develop slightly pinkish marks, whereas women with deeper or darker skin tones often get stretch marks that are slightly lighter than skin tone. As these scars heal, they might shrink or gradually fade.
Moisturizing the Belly
During pregnancy, it’s important to keep the belly well-moisturized. Cocoa butter, aloe vera, and coconut oil are excellent moisturizers during this time. These applications are all-natural, unlikely to cause irritation, and rich in nutrients that support both skin renewal and overall skin health.
Cosmetic Procedures for Minimizing the Appearance of Stretch Marks
Once stretch marks have formed, most corrective cosmetic procedures focus on creating controlled skin damage. During these treatments, micro-wounds or tiny, painless abrasions are made at the surface layers of the skin. This incites the body’s natural healing processes to promote rapid skin cell renewal, and increased collagen production. As the body heals, the treated scars marks will increasingly become less conspicuous. Some of the top procedures for minimizing or eliminating stretch marks include:
- Chemical peels
- Laser therapy
- Micro-focused ultrasound
To limit their likelihood of developing stretch marks, women should start applying high-quality moisturizers as soon as they become pregnant. By making good hydration a priority, expecting mothers can keep their skin sufficiently supple for avoiding major skin damages. When moderate to severe stretch marks do form, various cosmetic procedures can assist the skin in healing itself.