Pregnancy Horrors: Stretch Marks
Do stretch mark creams really work?
Pregnancy does a number on your body, and while some changes are great (hello gorgeous, shiny hair) others can leave a lasting effect that isn’t too desirable. Stretch marks are a big concern for some moms-to-be, but do the creams all over the market really work?
I can’t tell you how much money is spent on expensive creams to prevent stretch marks- cocoa butter, vitamin E, vitamin D. I can’t say don’t bother but really you not having a significant impact on stretch marks. Pregnancy causes a change in connective tissue. The pattern of fibers is usually perpendicular lending the skin strength. In pregnancy the fibers reorient in a parallel pattern. When the skin becomes overstressed small tears ensue resulting in the stretch marks. These appear most commonly on the abdomen, thighs and breasts, but also can appear on the back, buttock, hips and upper arms.
The biggest risk factor is family history- look to your mom, sisters, aunts- if they’ve got them you probably will too regardless of what you slather on your body. Other risk factors are preexisting stretch marks and rapid weight gain.
So what can you do? Unfortunately not much. Slow steady weight gain is helpful but not a guarantee to prevent stretch marks. There are no proven treatments, although the research is promising. Treinoin cream has significantly helped in studies but needs to be applied when the marks are pink/red for max efficiency. Unfortunately higher doses can cause harm to the baby so it is not advised during pregnancy. A cream with centella asiatice extract, vitamin E and collagen-elastin seemed to help but needs further study. Cocoa butter, one of the most commonly recommended and advertised creams has not been shown to be effective.
So really there is no product available that can prevent or treat stretch marks. It still makes sense to keep your skin moisturized, but save your money on the the expensive creams and concoctions…they are no better than regular creams.