Changes in our skin as we age are inevitable, including loss of moisture, changes in…
Nine months of growing another life inside of you, carrying the weight of a growing child; feeling sick, nauseous, tired and having more than a little pressure put on your bladder…
Your body adapts. You adapt. But not without consequences.
Most women report pregnancy as a time when their body does all kinds of unusual, unpredictable things. Yet the one thing we can predict; the growing, changing shape of a woman’s body… we can do very little to recover from.
After pregnancy, many women find their bodies simply don’t return to their previous shape and size. And even for the lucky women who adapt well, stretch marks are a commonality.
Whether you had stretch marks before that now seem even more visible, or have new marks in new colours on different parts of your skin, most mothers will notice a difference. But if they’re making you unhappy or you think they’re unsightly, there are steps you can take.
What Are Stretch Marks?
It sounds unpleasant, but the truth is that stretch marks (sometimes referred to as striae) are small tears in your skin. Much like the tears we create in our muscles to build muscle, they form on the skin in a similar way.
During pregnancy your body has to adapt quickly. It’s the same with any fast growth period, like puberty or putting on lots of weight in a short timeframe. Your uterus rapidly expands, your body is carrying more weight, and your skin has to stretch to accommodate.
Stretch marks affect 90% of women during pregnancy and are perfectly normal. Most often you’ll notice them on your stomach, thighs, breasts and bottom. But there are other areas you’ll spot them too.
Most fade over time, but some don’t.
Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
Many women make it through to the beginning of their third trimester free of stretch marks; and let’s face it, it’s hard not to be optimistic at that point!
The media often tells pregnant women to massage cocoa butter or oils into the skin and convinces us they can be avoided. However, most stretch marks form during the third trimester of pregnancy, right as your belly gets to its largest point. These sorts of stretch marks are called striae gravidarum.
Occurring in the dermis (the tough middle layer of tissue that forms the shape of your skin), these stretch marks are the ones that you’ll find are most noticeable. Immediately after pregnancy, they appear dark and stark on your skin, and can be quite red on pale skin tones.
In the first year following your pregnancy, many of these marks will fade and blend into your skin tone. But there are ways to speed up the process, and help reduce the appearance of those that remain visible.
Do Creams Work For Stretch Marks?
Recommended creams and oils for stretch marks during and after pregnancy provide moisture that softens and smoothes the skin. Coconut, argan oil, almond and bio oil are all popular, but these take time and effort to apply.
And, more often than not, they don’t have the desired effect.
The serums that have the best effect on stretch marks are usually vitamin C and hyaluronic serums; both of which can be bought over the counter. However, they won’t completely erase your stretch marks.
Can Exercise Improve Stretch Marks?
Exercise for women after pregnancy can help to tone the areas prone to stretch marks. This can sometimes make them less obvious.
Similarly, eating a healthy, balanced diet ensures your skin has the right nutrients to repair itself, and improve your overall mindset when it comes to body positivity.
Stretch Mark Treatments
If all the serums, healthy foods and exercise isn’t quite cutting it, and the aesthetics of your stretch marks are getting you down, there are alternatives.
Stretch marks are perfectly normal. They’re nothing to worry about or be ashamed of. But if you truly just can’t stand them, there are some treatments to help.
Microneedling might sound scary, but it can be incredibly effective for reducing visible stretch marks and scarring in general. It works by using an oscillating handpiece of microscopic needles that make tiny punctures in your skin.
This is basically a minor trauma or injury. And your body responds to this by flooding the area with new, healthy collagen. This, combined with topical nutrients applied to the skin, prevents dermal tearing and provides excellent results on stretch marks.
2. Pulsed Dye Laser Treatment
For pregnancy stretch marks that are red and purple in colour, pulsed dye lasers have been shown to make significant improvements to their visibility. The laser emits energy that is absorbed into the blood beneath the stretch mark.
The veins there collapse, and are absorbed, which can cause the red and purple colouration to fade and even disappear. Since the lasers are selective and target particular areas, they don’t cause damage to the surrounding skin, either.
3. Fractional Laser Treatment
For older pregnancy stretch marks that are white or silvery in colour, fractional lasers have been found to be very effective.
This works using microscopic laser beams that “drill” into the stretch mark while leaving the surrounding skin undisturbed. These undamaged cells can then rapidly migrate into the treated area, to promote (fast) healing.
This occurs due to the production of new collagen in the skin that supports the stretch mark; effectively smoothing it out and tightening the mark so that it appears less visible.
Treatments from Cambridge Laser Clinic
Whether you’re bothered by your stretch marks after pregnancy, or simply don’t like the look of them, thanks to modern science, all hope is not lost!
In addition to exercise, a healthy diet and regular application of creams, oils and moisturisers, there are treatments available that quite literally force your body to respond and heal those unsightly marks.
At The Cambridge Laser Clinic, we want to make sure you understand how our treatments work. And, more importantly, what the results are likely to be. That’s why our consultations are free.
Get in touch with our friendly staff, and we’ll put you on the path to getting your pre-pregnancy flair back.