How To Take Control Of Your Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Published on 04/23/21

Stretch marks during pregnancy. Commonly known as stretch marks, or striae distensae or striae gravidarum – if you’re smart like that! They come in all different sizes, colors, and shapes. Indented streaks in your skin that may be silver, purple, or red in color and can be found anywhere from: 

  • stomach
  • chest
  • hips
  • bottom
  • thighs

You can find stretch marks on anyone anywhere from anything. But when it comes to pregnancy, they tend to be notorious for showing up to the party early. Some people are much more susceptible to them than others. Mostly through genetics. If a family member has stretch marks, you’re more likely to get them. However, even with this increased risk for developing more stretch marks than the average – there are things you can do to reduce your risk. As well as treating the stretch marks you already have.

Here are a few tips that might help manage the development of stretch marks:

Try to Control A Healthy Weight

Pregnant or not, one of the most helpful ways to avoid stretch marks is maintaining a healthy weight. Rapid weight gain can be the cause of stretch marks when your skin pulls apart really fast. This can lead to a type of scarring, a linear scar to the connective tissue. The change causes the elastin and collagen in your skin to rupture. Stretch marks are just the evidence of the skin healing. Even after rapid weight loss. Sometimes people develop stretch marks during growth spurts in puberty or after gaining muscle weight from working out or using steroids. 

When we’re making all these changes, working to control the changes in our body from happening too quickly may be the most helpful.

Drink Water – All The Time!

Dry skin tends to develop stretch marks a whole lot less than dry skin does. Drinking water keeps your skin hydrated and soft. The recommended amount of water for men is 104 ounces and 72 ounces for women. When drinking beverages like coffee, the caffeine may be dehydrating you can cause an increased risk of stretch mark development. Make sure to balance both your water and caffeinated beverages.

Eat Nutritiously

Eating foods that help boost your skin can help fight against stretch marks during pregnancy. If your skin lacks nutrients in certain areas, this could increase your risk of stretch marks. Make sure to include foods that are rich in these vitamins:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • zinc
  • protein

Look for whole foods that are not highly processed. Rule of thumb: eat the rainbow. Veggies and fruits in a variety of colors. Mixed berries, zucchini, tomatoes, etc. 

Vitamin C is Your Friend

Vitamin C is important to help your skin in the development of collagen. Collagen keeps your skin strong and elastic, as well as reducing the appearance of wrinkles. All which are important for preventing stretch marks.  You can find vitamin C in many fruits and vegetables. Mostly commonly found in a higher concentrate in citrus fruits. Specifically, oranges and lemons!

Enjoy the Sun

In some studies, researchers found a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and the incidence of stretch marks. This suggests that maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D through sun exposure can help reduce the occurrence of stretch marks. You can also find vitamin D in many foods like bread, milk, and yogurt.

Zinc’s Got You Covered

Zinc is important for more than just skin health. It helps reduce inflammation and also helps you heal from surface wounds. Although there isn’t much in the way of evidence when it comes to the link between zinc and stretch marks, Zinc is known as a skin healthy vitamin. So maintaining a balanced diet with nuts and fish may help to keep your skin healthy enough to fight back when it comes to stretch marks.

Treat Stretch Marks

Preventing stretch marks may become an impossible feat, so if you find yourself noticing fresh stretch marks, treat them! You can work to help minimize the appearance immediately. This helps keep them less noticeable in the long run. 

If you’re noticing fresh stretch marks, make an appointment to talk to your doctor or dermatologist to discuss the causes of new marks. As well as suggest treatment options that work best for your stretch marks.

Risks

Some people are more likely to develop stretch marks. Risk factors include:

  • being female
  • having a family history of stretch marks
  • being overweight
  • being pregnant
  • gaining or losing weight quickly
  • using corticosteroids
  • having breast augmentation
  • having certain genetic disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome

Stretch Marks and Pregnancy

One of the most common times a woman would notice stretch marks is when she’s pregnant. About 50 to 90% of women will develop stretch marks before delivery. Stretch marks during pregnancy have been speculated to be due to hormones during pregnancy. These may make you more prone to stretch marks. 

Pregnancy hormones may bring more water into the skin, relaxing it and making it easier to tear when stretched. However this isn’t 100% proven. Regardless, pregnant women will notice stretch marks starting in the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. You’ll find that a lot of these women used products to try and reduce the amount of stretch marks or prevent them altogether. Bio-Oil being the most frequently used product for stretch mark prevention.

However, the best known way to prevent stretch marks is to gain pregnancy weight slowly and steadily You can work with your doctor to find the right diet and exercise plan. This can help regulate your pregnancy weight and give you the right amount of nourishment for you and the baby.

Take comfort in knowing that if you happen to develop stretch marks during pregnancy, they will fade into a whiter paler or more silver color. Rather than the purple or red color they develop in.

Treating Stretch Marks

It’s difficult to say what can prevent and treat stretch marks but there are many options you can use to make their appearance less noticeable.

Retinoid cream

It’s a medical cream that is developed from vitamin A.  Retinol cream may improve the appearance of your stretch marks, especially new ones. These creams are known to help with building your skin’s collagen enough to make the marks look more like the rest of your skin. However, if you’re pregnant or nursing, talking to your doctor about using topical retinoids. You may find that your physician doesn’t agree with these types of topical creams being used during pregnancy.

Lasers

There are multiple types of laser therapies. These are a great option for reducing stretch marks because they help stimulate collagen or elastin in your skin. Talk to your doctor about laser therapy options. 

Glycolic acid

You may have heard about glycolic acid when it comes to acne scarring treatments as well. Along the lines of chemical peels, glycolic acid creams can also be treatments for stretch marks. A lot of them tend to be very expensive but they are known to work and help lessen the appearance of already developed stretch marks. However, it cannot prevent new ones from forming.

Conclusion

Given time, all stretch marks become less noticeable. Even though preventing them can be difficult and no one has found a product to help us do so. There are many creams, oils, and other products that can come into play to help manage our current stretch marks. It depends though, treatment is a case by case basis and although it isn’t backed by science 100%, it doesn’t hurt to try. 

Especially if your preventative measures include eating healthy, drinking water, maintaining a healthy weight, and seeking proper treatment from your doctor. 

If you do happen to notice an increase in stretch marks or if you notice they have covered a large area of the body, talk to your doctor about possible causes and treatment options.

Approach With Caution

If you’re looking to purchase products to prevent or get rid of stretch marks, proceed with caution. Like a lot of beauty products on the market, most that are claiming to do so just don’t work. 

Like a lot of beauty products out there, they promise a lot and deliver a little. Some simply just don’t work at all. Studies have shown that almond oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E and olive oil have been not so successful in  making stretch marks fade. 

If you’re looking for treatment, discuss your options with your doctor. Unfortunately without a magic potion, cream or lotion, preventing them from happening, the next option could be an over-the-counter treatment. By talking to your doctor and using the treatment as direct, this may allow you to actively prevent stretch  marks from developing over the course of your 9 month pregnancy. 

And although stretch marks are not a health hazard, and are painless, there are ways to make them less noticeable with the help of your dermatologist. 

For those stretch marks that develop for no clear reason such as pregnancy, talk to your doctor about getting help to rule out any potential health issues you may not be aware of. 

At the end of the day, we have to accept that when it comes to pregnancy, there may not be much in the way of preventing stretch marks. They may occur anyway. For some women, their “tiger stripes” are a badge of honor and a nice reminder of the child you once delivered. It’s a matter of the heart! Always remember, it’s not how you look, it’s how you feel. Women are miracle workers when it comes to bringing life into this world, so be gentle with yourself!

For Any Questions About Pregnancy And Stretch Marks, Talk To The Doctors At Rosh MFM

The team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine are prepared to give you answers and provide top-notch medical care so that you have a healthy pregnancy. If you’d like to schedule prenatal care or have questions about stretch marks during pregnancy, call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or schedule an appointment online.