The day you find out you’re pregnant can be one of the happiest times of a woman’s life, but can also make some women concerned about how their bodies are going to look after giving birth. Excessive weight gain and large stretch marks are often high on the list of concerns. By preparing your skin for the growth that occurs during pregnancy, you can minimize your risk for stretch marks.
During pregnancy, if you apply a high lanolin-based moisturizer product over your abdomen each morning, stress to the skin can be diminished and stretch marks can be avoided. Because lanolin is an animal-based oil, it will penetrate into the dermal layer of skin. This diminishes the amount of damage that occurs to collagen and elastin fibers as skin stretches.
Each evening, especially during the last trimester of pregnancy, application of products that restore collagen allows for active repair of a stressed, injured or damaged collagen. When fresh, new collagen is created, it restores skin thickness and strength. These characteristics aid in preventing stretch marks because more force can be applied to the skin without resulting in damage to the collagen fibers.
Staying adequately hydrated is another way to reduce the risk of stretch marks. With proper water intake and the use of moisturizing products, the pliability of skin is protected. If you know ahead of time that skin will be stretched (such as with a pregnancy) the optimum conditions for collagen and pliability protection can be created. By doing so, the risk of stretch marks is diminished.
If stretch marks are already present, they can most likely be improved by therapy that tightens the dermal collagen in the deeper layers of skin. Just as washing clothes in hot water leads to the shrinking of certain fabrics, it is known that heat causes collagen fibers to contract or shorten. Ultrasonic machines can deliver heat to controllable depths of the dermis, shortening the length of the collagen fibers and bringing the skin closer together. As the collagen fiber contracts, the stretch marks appear smaller, even though the scar itself is not healed. This smaller scar is less noticeable to the eye and is therefore less likely to be seen when the area of skin is exposed.
There are also methods that help camouflage the look of stretch marks, making them less noticeable. Laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, micro-dermabrasion, deep chemical peels and superficial peels are designed to elicit cosmetic improvement of irregular pigmentation. While the scar itself is not treated, these methods do stimulate new collagen production which may aid in the appearance of the marks. Micropigmentation is another method that can help mask the appearance of stretch marks. In this procedure, color matching the surrounding skin pigment is tattooed onto the skin surface. Methods such as micropigmentation are good options for those who wish to diminish the appearance of the marks. Other methods of camouflage include makeups or self-tanners that can temporarily hide the scar.
Keep in mind that if you plan on having more children, all long-term treatments should be postponed until all children are born. Taking care of your skin during pregnancy can help diminish the risk of stretch marks on the body, so make sure you take proper precautions when you know your skin will be stretched beyond normal movement conditions. As always, reach out to your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have regarding stretch marks and they can advise you on the options available to you.