Stretch Marks – What Can I Do About Them?

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The female body changes immensely during pregnancy. Extra weight between 9 and 20kg are distributed especially on the abdomen and breasts. With strong stretching of the skin, cracks can then appear in the connective tissue of the subcutis. Stretch marks! But how can you get around this annoying skin problem and which treatments really help?

Causes

The faster a woman gains weight during her pregnancy, the more likely it is that stretch marks will appear. The skin has not had enough time to compensate for the increase in volume. In addition to extreme stretching, high pregnancy-induced cortisol levels change the texture of the skin, decreasing elasticity and often making it impossible to avoid the bluish-red stretch marks.

The hormone causes the skin to hold more water, worsening its ability to stretch. If this is supported by a genetic weakness of the connective tissue or the general change of the body in the 9 months, parallel fine cracks often form, which soon become bluish-reddish stripes due to the stretching of the tissue. The skin is now permanently damaged and light scars will remain.

Stretch marks do not pose a health risk, but they are often perceived as aesthetically disturbing. Often women suffer psychologically and feel less attractive.

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Prevention

In general, prevention is everything! To avoid gaining weight too quickly, pay special attention to a balanced healthy diet during pregnancy. Nuts, oils and fresh vegetables, as well as adequate hydration, provide vitamins and nutrients that additionally nourish the skin.

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Regular exercise boosts blood circulation and thus protects against cracks. Particularly suitable and good for mother and baby are gentle sports such as yoga, walking and swimming, which at the same time trains the pelvic floor.

Stretch marks can be prevented very well by massaging the affected areas of the skin with massage oils that promote blood circulation. This is best done twice a day! The plucking massage, in which the skin is carefully pulled up and rolled between thumb and forefinger, is wonderfully suitable. In combination with nourishing oils, the skin is moisturized and made more elastic.

Likewise, cold-warm stimuli, such as through alternating showers and Kneipp casts, can stimulate circulation. The application is not only very easy to integrate into everyday life, but can also be extended with loofah glove or brush massages.

Treatment

If stretch marks could not be prevented, the following applies for the time being: Don’t panic! Often they fade away quite quickly after delivery. With stubborn stripes however, one would like to help. There is still no way to completely remove stretch marks after pregnancy. But you can significantly weaken them, so that they are perceived as less annoying.

Care Products

Dry skin is more prone to tearing than one that is well moisturized! Already during pregnancy you can fight cellulite, stripes and co with creams and oils. Depending on the skin type, there are suitable body lotions, body butters, remodeling peelings and oils. In general, products containing vitamin A acid, biotin or hyaluronic acid are recommended to supply the skin with nutrients and provide it with sufficient care.

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Natural care products are available, for example, from Bellybutton, which specializes in the care of expectant and new mothers. The Mama Stripless body oil was developed by mothers and midwives and promises 24h moisturizing and is said to improve elasticity. Oil massages also stimulate circulation and have a relaxing effect on the skin. Pro: The products do not contain mineral oils, silicones, dyes or animal raw materials and are, unlike the competition, very inexpensive! Cons: Absorbs slowly.

In addition to the classic in the care series, there are also new products that convince. If one does not have time for the longer absorption time of the oil, the Stripless Body Balm offers the alternative. The plant-based cosmetic promotes cell regeneration and massage instructions are included! Pro: Natural and inexpensive!

These gentle and gentle options can cause relief and attenuation of stretch marks, but just without a guarantee. On the other hand, there are no risks and you can choose the products that suit you best.

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Medical Treatments

If you want to have the cracks removed, you can ask a dermatologist about various treatment options. The rule here is that the fresher the cracks are, the better they can be treated. Nevertheless, postpartum women should take their time until their bodies can tolerate a surgical procedure well. In addition, the financial cost is quite high, because health insurance companies usually do not pay for these cosmetic procedures.

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Laser Treatment

Laser treatments are considered an effective, but also painful solution to remove stretch marks. Here, the laser penetrates under the layers of the skin and causes tiny holes through light pulses, which is supposed to stimulate new formation of connective tissue. The natural healing process kicks in and forms new collagen, causing scars and stretch marks to fade and the skin to appear firmer

Several sessions are necessary and are performed at two to four week intervals. After the session, the body should be given a week’s rest, as the skin may be slightly red and swollen. In addition, direct sunlight is taboo! Nevertheless, side effects, pain and risks of laser treatment are relatively low. You can expect to pay around 50 to 100€ per session.

Microdermabrasion

Here, the doctor removes the top layer of skin through fine microcrystals. The skin is opened so that active ingredients can penetrate better. The application is carried out until blood spots appear on the skin, which are later treated with ointments and wound dressings. What sounds painful is hardly noticeable in reality.

If the treatment depth is too low, the stretch marks may not be removed satisfactorily. If the treatment is carried out too intensively, deeper tissue layers may be injured in the worst case. Therefore, this treatment should be used only with medical supervision. The duration of the treatment depends on the patient’s skin condition. The price per session ranges from 60 to 180€. It is recommended to avoid sauna, swimming pools, sports and sun after the sessions and to give the skin a rest period of about 3 days.

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Micro-Needlings

A similar application promises the micro-needling treatment, which can now also be performed at home. A roller with small needles pricks tiny wounds in the skin, stimulating collagen formation. Afterwards, it is recommended to apply a special serum, which is used for wound healing and skin regeneration.
However, since this application produces a much lower result, few doctors offer this. The risk of injuring tissue layers or causing infections in unprofessional treatments is thus much higher.

So: lower effect, high risk!

Ultrasound Treatment

It is considered one of the gentlest ways to remove stretch marks. The ultrasound vibrations are supposed to create interstitial spaces in the tissue, which should facilitate the absorption of regenerating active substances. The metabolic process is stimulated and thus promotes blood circulation. In order to see the first results, up to 10 sessions are required, one of which costs about 30€.

There are also various ultrasound devices already for home use. In general, however, it is advisable to consult a doctor, because every skin is different and requires individual treatment!

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