Post Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Blog, Skin Treatments

Stretch marks are very common, occurring whenever the skin is stretched (puberty, weight gain, steroid use). Though they don’t just affect pregnant women, about 8/10 pregnant women will develop them at some stage; usually during the period of most rapid growth or weight gain. They tend to appear on the tummy, outer thighs, and breasts.

When a form of scar develops when the middle layer of skin (the dermis) becomes stretched and damaged/broken in places. Hormonal changes in pregnancy can mean women are more vulnerable to stretch marks and there is also a genetic variation, as the risk also depends on your skin type and how elastic the skin is.
The average weight gain in pregnancy is 12kg over the whole pregnancy (this varies hugely between women). Gaining anymore would increase the risk of stretch marks, as would carrying more weight before getting pregnant in the first place. Limiting weight gain is the only effective prevention. However, to be frank, women have enough to be stressed about during pregnancy without being overly concerned about dieting and weight gain; though a healthy balanced diet and exercise is ideal for a healthy pregnancy.
Sadly, there is no real evidence to suggest moisturising your skin can prevent them, as they are caused by micro-tears within the deeper skin layers. Many creams claim to help remove stretch marks after they have developed but these are not backed up by any good evidence that they work.  The only effective options in terms of creams are retinoids containing creams with hyaluronic acid which can help (more effective if used on new stretch marks, but you should not use these during pregnancy). Applying creams that are safe to use during pregnancy such as Bio-Oil and Stratamark can help to moisturise the skin daily and reduce the chances of stretch marks forming if used consistently.
 
Fortunately, there are some very effective treatments available; for women that do find they have stretch marks they would like to treat, the sooner we can treat them the better.
Whilst stretch marks are still in the pink phase the skin is still healing and this the best time to treat either with lasers or micro-needling, as it reduces the chance of scars forming. If women wait until the stretch marks are white, it’s much harder for us to reduce their appearance as the healing phase is already finished. We can perform stretch mark removal with laser or micro-needling treatments, such as DermaPen, Profound RF, CO2, and Icon laser.