The female body becomes a work of divine art during pregnancy. For example, at the end of the nine months it produces and carries up to two liters more blood and is between 9 and 20 kilograms heavier than before. The majority of the extra weight is distributed on the stomach and breasts. Especially at these points, the skin has to stretch many times. The result – postpartum stretch marks.
It is said that postpartum stretch marks are experienced by between fifty to ninety percent of pregnant women. Actually, it is considered a miracle by women if the body puts the extra weight away and recovers. More often than not, a females body might never look the same again after birth, and stretch marks after birth are one of the reasons why that is.
POSTPARTUM STRETCH MARKS – THE CAUSES
The hormones in pregnancy change the texture of the skin. She is getting thinner. In addition, it is greatly stretched. If the connective tissue overstretches, the lower layers of the skin may tear. Through the cracks shimmer the underlying blood vessels. Therefore, stretch marks appear reddish or bluish at first. Later, they fade and become thinner. “It usually takes a few months – how long exactly, varies from woman to woman,” says Kiritsi. They do not disappear completely, as a rule.
Almost every pregnant woman gets stretch marks – from this it can be read that it is hardly possible to avoid them. Nevertheless, there are risk factors that can affect pregnant women, such as obesity.
A women goes through a whole whirlwind of hormonal changes while bearing a child in her belly. These hormonal changes result in the thinning of the skin. When mass accumulates on the belly and breasts, the connective tissues of the now thin skin overstretches, causing them to eventually tear over time. Blood vessels later begin to shimmer through the cracked skin, showing just how thin it has become. This is why stretch marks tend to appear reddish blue at the beginning. With time, these tend to fade in color and assume a darker shade.
One thing is for certain – there is almost zero chance of avoiding stretch marks after birth. At the same time, the appearance of postpartum stretch marks varies from woman to woman. Some woman experience postpartum stretch marks for far longer than others, depending on the skin type and hormonal changes. Postpartum stretch marks can be made worse if the mother is not health conscious and does not watch her weight.
Five tips to prevent stretch marks
They say that you are what you eat, and that certainly applies to our skin. The skin is directly affected by what the body is fed. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and fish provides the skin with important nutrients. Foods like broccoli, carrots and peppers, along with vitamin E in the form of nuts and oils is beneficial. Vitamin C found in citrus fruits has been seen to support the connective tissue. Most importantly, it is advised to drink lots of water to keep the skin hydrated in order to help restrict postpartum stretch marks.
Keep You Body On The Move
Have you ever noticed why celebrities become so particular about exercise during pregnancy? It is because exercise and regular movement of the body allows for stretch marks after birth to be controlled. Exercise boosts blood circulation, thus better protecting the skin from tears. Anyone who has done little exercise before pregnancy does not have to turn into a marathon runner. Gentle variants such as yoga, walking or swimming are good for mother and baby and also protect the pelvic floor.
The cold and warm stimuli pertains to the stretching and contracting of the skin, in simple terms at least. Take a moment out and think about how different your body feels after a cold shower and a warm shower. After you’ve been out running in the sun and after you’ve walked for twenty minutes on a cold winter night. Changing showers helps promote blood circulation in the skin. Expectant mothers can experiment with this in the beginning of the pregnancy. With a loofah or shower glove, bathe the abdomen, breasts, buttocks and thighs alternately with cold and warm water. Always close with cold water, as this helps constrict the skin and prevent stretching.
A dry skin is more prone to tearing than one that is well hydrated. You could do this by either drinking lots of water, or by oiling it on a regular basis. There are special pregnancy oils available that contain no fragrance or additive and preservatives. Almond oil is another commonly available oil that can be used. Massage the belly, breasts and thighs twice a day to help prevent postpartum stretch marks.
Stretch Marks After Birth
Women can start directly with renewed regular creaming. Although its efficacy can be debated, creaming is nevertheless always useful, no matter which cream you use. Women should not expect too much from it, but it definitely helps to keep the skin supple and helps combat stretch marks after birth. For other methods such as lasers or needling, women should considered getting it done some time after birth. This is because the body should be given time to get back to its old self before being subjected to any sort of treatment.
Needling and Laser treatments have always had mixed results. Some women get highly satisfying results, while some women barely experience any change at all. It is generally considered that only forty to fifty percent of the women undergoing treatment experience any sort of improvement on their postpartum stretch marks. In the face of high costs and low improvement rate, many women decide not to pursue the treatment at all.
Treatment methods – Laser and Needling
The laser removal method has been made use of for removing postpartum stretch marks by women. The dye laser destroys the blood vessels and is especially suitable for fresher cracks and scars. The method allows marks to fade out faster.
For white stretch marks and other scars, the so-called ablative Fraxel-CO2 laser is suitable. It causes many tiny holes in the lower layers of the skin, stimulating the formation of new connective tissue. How many sessions are needed varies from case to case. It depends on how the body reacts to the treatment. Most of the time, lasering starts at a lower intensity. If that’s not enough, you boost it. For some women, it is enough to remove postpartum stretch marks, and for some, it is not. On average, the process takes at least five sessions.
The most aggressive form of CO2 laser treatment for postpartum stretch marks is the so-called Rio method. This is an aggressive skin removal technique that is not suitable for young mothers, especially during breastfeeding.
With the help of the so-called micro-needling, small wounds are stabbed into the skin. This should stimulate collagen formation. The problem is that the micro needling in, contrast to lasers, requires no medical approval – anyone can use it. There are even needle rollers, pens or stamps for home use. Experts advise to have the needling performed by a qualified doctor.
A new method is the fractional micro needling with radio frequency. It combines the needling with ultrasonic waves to stimulate collagen formation even better.