CAUTION! Stretch marks ahead

Reviewed on : 17 June 2016

“Change is the only constant” stands proven during a certain phase in a woman’s life – Pregnancy.

Pregnancy is preceded with a decision to start a family and is then followed by a series of events that repeatedly urge one to remodel their life. It all starts with certain alterations in the personality, one suddenly feels more responsible, is more cautious of what they eat, the priorities in life change their course, the schedules change, there is a drastic alteration in sleep patterns and the definition of “freedom” transforms in every context. With so many modifications happening all around, there is another prominent element that shows clear signs of change during (or after) pregnancy – One’s own body.

Eventually, there comes a time, when one is not “just pregnant”, one actually starts to “look pregnant”. One starts to notice oneself going through radical physical changes and still does not start freaking out about it. Before we proceed, it’s important to establish that all women are different. They differ in the way they are, the manner in which they speak or carry themselves, their personalities, their nature and yes, even their bodies. Whether one is short or towers over everyone else in a crowd; whether one is skinny or full bodied and voluptuous, often it is all about how well one embraces one’s uniqueness. The uniqueness of women, is however not limited to just their body structure or physique, but also about how well they mentally accommodate with the constant change in their shape and size during their pregnancy.

Having feet that are constantly swollen, a belly that never stops to itch, to feel like one has been burdened with a huge load on their shoulders and at the same time completely destabilized emotionally; being pregnant certainly isn’t something that one can simply ignore. Some of the other common issues that one might hear about are complaints about morning sickness, nausea, sore breasts, tender joints… the list is almost endless. Pregnancy is truly a roller coaster ride of both emotional and physical highs and lows.

While women have become more vocal about some of the more common and discomforting issues related to pregnancy, many latent issues have been kept on the back burner. These include bloating due to water retention, being gassy due to many factors, having itchy nipples due to stretching and dryness, hemorrhoids, adult acne and breakouts, lower sex drive and of course, stretch marks.

While some might wonder how stretch marks could be such a major issue, women around the world are unanimous in categorizing it as a serious problem. In India, a woman draped in a saree is usually an image of elegance and grace. But stretch marks on the midriff during pregnancy, make it difficult for a woman to wear a saree and carry it too. One has to constantly remind oneself to keep the stretch marks concealed. Same is the case with short tops and swimwear.

Causes of Stretch Marks:

While it may be inevitable for a woman to get stretch marks at some stage in life, almost 90% of women get them during the course of pregnancy, especially during the last trimester. The growth of the body in relation to the stretchability of the skin determines the development of stretch marks. Stretched beyond its stretchability, the elastic fibers found under the skin start to break. If the belly and the breasts are growing at a higher speed than the rate at which the skin is expanding, then this will ultimately cause stretch marks.

Common areas where stretch marks are likely to appear during pregnancy are; breasts, belly, buttocks, upper arms and thighs. A couple of months after delivery, these marks usually become lighter, but during the initial stages they can be very dark. Genetics is also a contributing factor for the development of stretch marks and it is likely for a woman to develop stretch marks if her mother or grandmother also had them.

Prevention of Stretch Marks:

While many may wonder if it is possible to prevent stretch, the harsh truth is, that it isn’t! One might find a variety of products claiming to prevent the development of these marks or being able to eradicate them altogether. It is advisable not to fall for such misleading claims. There is no ointment or lotion that can stop your skin from stretching over an enlarging body and thereby prevent the marks from occurring.

There are however some ways in which one could slow down the whole process and prevent the skin from developing severe scars. The most important among them is to keep oneself well hydrated throughout the course of pregnancy. Drinking at least 8 to 9 glasses of water is recommended. Fresh fruit juices and smoothies also contribute to the body’s hydration requirement. The other valuable tip would be to keep the skin well moisturized. One should stick to their most trusted brand of moisturizer and ensure that it always leaves the skin feeling rich and hydrated.

Treatment for Stretch Marks:

Because the marks cannot be prevented or completely removed the only options left is to try to fade them instead!

  • To help speed up the fading process one can rely on various homemade remedies made from common natural ingredients. Such remedies are usually most effective when the stretch marks are in their raw reddish phase.
  • Products that help in speeding up the turnover of new cells by fuelling the growth of collagen can also be used, but not during the pregnancy.
  • A medical procedure called Dermabrasion is also available and helps to renew the skin.
  • Some dermatologists recommend laser treatments which work by heating the skin. This procedure also helps to speed up the production of collagen and minimize enlarged blood vessels. It however takes a couple of laser sessions to notice any visible results.
  • Dermabrasion or laser treatments can however be opted for only after the baby has been delivered.

While, stretch marks aren’t the prettiest thing to have on one’s skin, most women eventually come to terms with it and even embrace it. It is always nice to think of it as a medal to mark one of the most beautiful phases of a woman’s life.

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