Women are frequently corcerned about having some stretch marks during their pregnancy and they really have reasons to, because more than 50% of pregnants will have some stretch marks.
This is the reason why so much webs, shops, clinics or pharmacy bomb us with different information about this topic, with advices more or less reliable for preventing them, and of course with a large number of so-called miraculous solutions to use before or when we already have stretch marks: where is the true in all of this?
We can start talking about the reason why stretch marks appear, although it is not really sure at all. During pregnancy, stretch marks are noticed most of all in belly and breasts, but some women can suffer them in leggings and hips too. The most reasonable explanation is skin stretch itself, but there are so many others elements that will cause women with a little belly to have stretch marks and women with a very big belly, like twin pregnancy, to have not.
We have a lot of scientific researches about this topic, but unfortunately none studied a considerable amount of women and the results of one can even contradict the others. Notwithstanding, we can extrapolate about 25 risk factors to develop stretch marks, being the most important, and the most recurrent, the following:
- Family history: if your mother have stretch marks, you are more likey to have it also.
- Young mothers: specially under 25 years. Perhaps because their skin suffers more the stretching effects.
- Overweight before pregnancy: the higher BMI is before pregnancy, the more probable stretch marks are.
- BMI increase during pregnancy.
- To carry big babies or twins.
Others interesting although less conclusive risk factors are bad alimentation, to not drink enough water or to smoke.
By the way, it seems that to practise some sports or having a strong abdominal wall can prevent stretch marks.
As regards creams, there are very few relevant studies about this matter. The most popular molecule is asiatic pennywort, that seems to have positive effects, specially to reduce stretch marks intensity. But this studies, again, have been made with a very little number of women and with several active substances besides asiatic pennywort, and even so results are not outstanding. We can also find studies about olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil, generally concluding they are not particularly effective. The only thing that somehow seems to slightly reduce quantity and intensity of stretch marks is using any moisturising, cream or oil, and to apply it with a massage (about 15 minutes, twice per day).
And what can we do if we already have stretch marks?
My advice is to wait after birthing. In spite of so many advertisements, stretch marks treatments are not miraculous. We have to bear in mind that stretch marks are a kind of scars: they can improve, but are very unlike to diseappear.
First thing is keep moisturising and giving massages. We can use a sweetbriar rose oil that can somewhat help. There are specifical treatments such as tretinoin, mesotherapy, laser, carboxytherapy and so on, but they can be helpful only with red stretch mark, because if it has already turned white, treatments shall be almost useless.
Last but not least, I recommend that if this problem trouble you a lot, you should seek some psycological help by a therapist or by some parentig support group. Sometimes the best aesthetic treatment is someone who help us understand that our body is always beautiful, even if not flawless.
- Stretch marks during pregnancy: a review of topical prevention. Korgavkar K, Wang F.Br J Dermatol. 2015 Mar;172:606-15.
- Is it possible to prevent striae gravidarum? Ersoy E, Ersoy AO, Yasar Celik E, Tokmak A, Ozler S, Tasci Y. J Chin Med Assoc. 2016 May;79:272-5.
- Self-assessment of striae gravidarum prophylaxis. Antoszewski B, Sobczak M, Kasielska-Trojan A. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2015 Dec;32:459-64.
- Use of a specific anti-stretch mark cream for preventing or reducing the severity of striae gravidarum. Randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. García Hernández JÁ, Madera González D, Padilla Castillo M, Figueras Falcón T. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2013 Jun;35:233-7.