Preventing Stretch Marks
Preventative measures will help reduce the degree of stretch marks you experience after birth. Gaining no more than the recommended amount of weight and gaining it slowly may help reduce your chances of getting stretch marks. Rapid or excessive weight gain will only compound the problem of stretch marks and will likely cause you to have more in the end.
Keeping your skin well moisturized beginning in the first trimester may help prevent stretch marks. A nourishing lotion, oil or cream applied on a daily and nightly basis will moisturize your skin (and also reduce itching). There are many products specially made for stretch mark prevention that contain ingredients such as vitamin E, vitamin A, emu oil, cocoa butter, wheat germ oil and lanolin. While moisturizing helps to improve the skin's elasticity, the effectiveness of these products in preventing stretch marks has been shown to be rather limited.
A sensible diet containing plenty of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens is a must. Excellent nutrition is vital for your developing baby, but it also contributes to the strength and health of your skin. Eating foods high in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and silica will help your skin to stretch better and also help your skin to bounce back faster after giving birth. Drinking plenty of water and taking your prenatal vitamins are also critical for beautiful skin and a healthy baby.
Stretch Mark Treatment
If you already have stretch marks, there are some ways to remove them postpartum. Some studies have shown that topical ointments, such as Retin-A, may help with stretch marks when applied after your baby is born. This treatment works best when applied during the first few days postpartum. Retin-A is not safe to use during pregnancy and there's no reliable information on the amount excreted in breast milk or its effect on a nursing infant, so it's best to avoid using it while breastfeeding.
Postpartum laser treatments may be beneficial and are rapidly gaining in popularity. Using a laser or intense light, stretch marks are treated by flashes or beams of laser light that pass through the skin into the collagen. These treatments are quick, with little recovery time involved. Cosmetic surgery is another option, but is generally used as a last resort for the most severe scarring from stretch marks. These kinds of procedures are expensive and are not covered by insurance.
The bad news is stretch marks are permanent and very rarely disappear. The good news is that stretch marks naturally fade, usually become considerably less noticeable over time and eventually becoming a few shades lighter than your regular skin tone.
Read more about stretch mark treatments.