Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pregnancy & stretch marks

I have a feeling you’re hoping I’ll tell you how to get rid of stretch marks or avoid them altogether. But I’m sorry to say I can’t do that. Some people are predisposed genetically to the formation of stretch marks, while others may escape their plight. Like so many other things, when it comes to the body, it boils down to genetics.

Stretch marks are actually scars. As the skin of the belly is stretched during pregnancy (or weight gain in general), so too are the collagen fibers. Collagen is the supporting structure of the skin (of the dermis or inner layer). As the skin stretches to its capacity, new layers of collagen fibers are laid down to add strength to this ever-expanding tissue. This stretching action, along with the addition of new collagen, results in striae, or common stretch marks.

There are several creams on the market that claim to prevent stretch marks. They must be “miracle creams” because if you are prone to stretch marks, it will take nothing short of a miracle for your body not to produce them. Using creams and ointments on the areas that are most likely to develop stretch marks will help to keep the skin soft and supple, but it is doubtful these products will deter them from coming. If you are not genetically predisposed, you may not get stretch marks. It’s kind of the luck of the draw, and it is predominately genetic. (What isn’t?)

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to areas you’re concerned about. Just don’t start paying a lot of money in hopes of preventing the unpreventable. But do massage your skin—all over—with creams that soothe and moisturize. Your skin will respond favorably to the care you give it. In fact, skin that is stretching tends to itch. Using moisturizers on these areas can help alleviate this side effect.

Massage is an excellent way to stimulate circulation, and our skin can always use this extra boost. Maybe taking care of your expanding skin on a regular basis—before the stretch marks have begun—will actually help to minimize their appearance. It certainly can’t hurt, and who knows, maybe it will really improve your chances of keeping stretch marks away.

For more information, see: