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How can be stretch marks during pregnancy be prevented or treated?

More than half of the pregnant women develop stretch marks during pregnancy. Also known as striae gravidarum, stretch marks look like streaks on the surface of the skin, and can vary in color depending on your natural color of the skin. Most women develop stretch marks that are pink in people with lighter skin, while women with darker skin tend to have stretch marks that are lighter than the surrounding skin.
Most women develop stretch marks on their abdomen during pregnancy but it is also common to get stretch marks on the buttocks, hips, breasts and thighs.

Causes:
Stretch marks are formed when the skin is stretched rapidly as it happens during pregnancy. Most women develop stretch marks during pregnancy trimester, although some women start to develop as soon as the belly begins to grow.

Stretch marks are actually small tears that form in the tissues; these tissues support the skin and help to stretch. Stretch marks represent a break or separation of collagen in the skin when tearing occurs. Stretch marks are not harmful or painful and usually fade over time.

Many women believe that using lotions and creams can help to prevent stretch marks. Realistically speaking, the number of grooves depends on the elasticity of the skin. The elasticity of the skin usually relates to your genetic makeup. The best thing to do is find out if your mother got stretch marks during pregnancy. If so, you are probably more susceptible to stretch marks as compared to other women.

Here are some other factors that may contribute to susceptibility to stretch marks:
– If stretch marks are developed before (like in the breasts during puberty) it is more likely to develop stretch marks during pregnancy.
– If you had stretch marks during the first pregnancy, then there is a more chance of getting them during the next pregnancy.
– If you are overweight or gain more weight than recommended, you are more likely to get stretch marks.
– There is a less chance of getting stretch marks if you are better hydrated and nourished.

Treatment:
Most women believe that they can prevent stretch marks by using creams and lotions. There are many formulas in the market that claim to help prevent stretch marks. Some of these may help to moisturize the skin and reduce itching. They can help reduce some stretch marks however there are no scientific studies that support this.
The best thing you can do to minimize stretch marks is to gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy. Doctors recommend most women gain between 25 and 34 pounds. Gaining much more than this can cause you to develop more stretch marks.
If stretch marks are really bad, you can check with your doctor or a dermatologist. Some topical treatments such as tretinoin cream may help in reducing stretch marks. These creams should be used after pregnancy however, because they can cause birth defects.
Most topical treatments available should be used shortly after delivery, before they start to fade. The more time passes between the delivery and use of the cream, it is less likely to be effective.
Most creams to reduce stretch marks do not help relieve the sagging skin that also accompanies childbirth. There are some new treatments like laser treatments however that may improve skin elasticity and help reduce stretch marks. Some women also consider plastic surgery after you are done with the children. A tummy tuck can help hide some stretch marks and reduce sagging skin.
If you are breastfeeding, it is important to consult your doctor before using any treatment for stretch marks. Some treatments can affect milk supply or pass through breast milk to your baby.

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