Stretch marks happen when we gain weight or lose weight rapidly but the good news is that if we know this in advance, we can take steps to limit these stretch marks. The most likely scenario for gaining weight rapidly is when women become pregnant and or if overweight men or women go on a diet or take up lots of exercise to lose weight.
Where do stretch marks appear?
Any area on the body from the knees upwards can be prone to stretch marks such as the stomach, waist, buttocks, lower back, hips, breasts and legs. Stretch marks are tears in the lower layer of your skin. This lower layer consists of elastic supportive tissue which helps the skin to stretch.
When the skin is stretched to its limit, it tears slightly allowing blood vessels to show through. These stretch marks usually occur on the stomach. They are less common among people with a dark skin but depending on your skin color, these stretch marks start out as pink reddish brown or dark brown streaks. As the pigmentation in the stretch marks gradually fades, the ìstriae gravidarumî
(which is the medical term) begin to look like glistening silvery lines of scar tissue.
If you are pregnant and your mother or an older sister had stretch marks
when they were pregnant, then I am afraid the chances are that you will too! Even if stretch marks don't appear with a first pregnancy, they can do so with a second and third pregnancy while if you did get them with a first pregnancy, they can be more severe in subsequent pregnancies. So it makes good sense to do what you can to reduce the chances or severity of stretch marks if you are pregnant
During pregnancy, your body grows so rapidly that the skin cannot produce enough new tissue
This can be aggravated if you are carrying a big baby, twins or multiples or if you have excess amniotic fluid which causes the womb and the body to grow larger.
The following hints to prevent or limit stretch marks are also good for your overall health and your skin condition:
- If you are pregnant, limit your weight gain to no more than the recommended amount of 25 to 35 pounds PLUS this weight gain should be as gradual as possible. Let your skin stretch at a steady rate. Good nutrition is vital for your developing baby but also contributes to the strength and health of your skin.
- Use a brush or wash cloth to massage the areas where you have noticed stretch marks or want to prevent them occurring. This will increase circulation to the area.
- Your diet should include foods rich in zinc such as nuts and fish as well as those high in vitamins A, C and D such as carrots, citrus fruits and milk and those foods rich in protein such as eggs. Avocados are especially good.
- Drink lots of water as this helps prevent stretch marks too. Avoid too much coffee, tea or any other drinks high in caffeine..
- Of course you must take your vitamins.
- Keep moisturizing your skin right from the first trimester until well after you have given birth and returned to your pre-pregnancy weight. Use one of the oils or creams marketed especially for stretch mark prevention and stretch mark removal. These products are designed to help enhance collagen production and support the dermis, keeping the skin intact despite the rigorous stretching.
There is some good news
And that is that stretch marks will usually fade within 6 to 12 months of giving birth although their texture will remain the same. At least they will not be so noticeable.
But why just leave it to nature when the statistics say that some 50% of all pregnant women get stretch marks and there is so much you can do to prevent the stretch marks
in the first place or to improve those that do appear?