Preventing and Treating Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are long, narrow streaks, stripes or lines that develop on the skin and which differ in hue from the surrounding skin. They are the result of a sudden stretching of the skin and are extremely common. Anyone can develop stretch marks, although they tend to affect more women than men.
Stretch marks happen when your body grows faster than your skin can keep up with. This causes the elastic fibers just under the surface of the skin to break, resulting in stretch marks.
Stretch marks can be visible on body parts including the tummy, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms, and lower back. The marks form in the middle layer of the skin; when there is a constant stretch, the layer tears, leaving stretch marks.
This type of scarring happens when the skin cannot bounce back after a period of intense growth, be that due to pregnancy, weight gain, or during puberty. Extreme weight loss can also make stretch marks more visible.
Skin expansion during the 40 weeks of pregnancy, is fast, resulting in stretch marks most commonly on the belly and breasts. According to the American Academy of Dermatology about 90% of women will get stretch marks after the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy. Genetics also plays a role, and you are more likely to get them if your mother did.
Being pregnant, is a beautiful journey and certainly not one to be too concerned about appearances, weight and skin marks. However, as women we are constantly bombarded with images of celebrity body bounce backs, and bikini’s (did you see the Kim Kardashian beach shots this week?) it’s difficult not to care.
There is no harm in learning about preventing and diminishing the appearance of stretch marks. But it’s important to remember that there is also no guarantee that creams, lotions or miracle potions will work.
It’s a good idea to keep the skin hydrated. Natural creams with almond oil, jojoba oil, and vitamin E – can keep the skin feeling smooth, toned, moisturised and can assist with the itchiness that can come with your growing belly.
Weleda does a natural stretch mark massage oil. Look for natural and organic brands to minimise the toxic load.
Water is also imperative! The largest substance in our bodies is WATER. It’s vital for everything, and essential for skin health. Coffee, teas and alcohol are diuretics, so if you have this in your diet you could be losing more water. So keeping hydrated by drinking enough water will help your skin retain its moisture, and assist in the prevention of stretch marks. Aim for 2L a day. However, if you don’t drink enough water, flooding your system with 2L may mean you’re sitting on the toilet all day. So perhaps, aim for 1L, then 1.5L with the goal of getting to 2L.
Gels and Retinoid Creams
Gels made with a mix of onion and hyaluronic acid may help. In one study, participants said that applied daily, after 12 weeks they noticed some improvements.
Another option is Retinoid, which is rich in vitamin A, and can help stimulate new collagen production. However, retinoid is not recommended whilst pregnant or breastfeeding.
Both of these options should be explored and prescribed through a qualified dermatologist, who will examine the skin and be able to give you expert advice on treatment options.
The skin consists of three layers; epidermis (outer layer), dermis (middle layer) and the subcutaneous or hypodermis (aka sub-cutis, the deeper layer). Stretch marks form in the dermis when the connective tissue is stretched beyond limits of its elasticity due to rapid expansion (pregnancy/weight gain) or contraction of the skin.
Collagen supplementation has been scientifically proven to increase skin elasticity, and its ability to retain water, with one studying noting that skin hydration increased by 91%. So taking your Vida Glow daily prior or post pregnancy will strengthen the collagen fibres below the surface of the skin. It also increases your natural production of collagen as well as increasing collagen levels in the body. The lack of collagen is a major reason why stretch marks can form, due to the weakness of the skin’s strength and structure.
We recommend two servings of our marine collagen blends a day, for the first 30 days.