During and after pregnancy, many women have the telltale purplish and red streaks that appear on their abdomen, thighs, breasts, arms or buttocks. Known as stretch marks, these streaks form when the middle layer of the skin stretches and the collagen breaks down. Women who are most likely to get stretch marks are those who are genetically predisposed, experience rapid weight gain or have less elastic skin. Fortunately, there are a few strategies women can employ to prevent and remove stretch marks after pregnancy.
Fight the appearance of stretch marks during your pregnancy. Maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and little sugar, salt, chemicals, preservatives or trans fats, all of which can dehydrate the skin and dull its tone. Keep hydrated by drinking eight 8-ounce cups of uncarbonated, unsweetened water every day. Supplement the water with 1 or 2 cups of antioxidant-rich black, white or green tea. Keep blood circulation up and the body rejuvenated by exercising regularly.
Exfoliate the troubled areas of the skin. Regular, gentle exfoliation is like a less-invasive chemical peel that helps slough off dead skin cells, stimulate collagen production and boost healing. You can purchase an all-natural exfoliant, such as those made by Burt’s Bees, Aveeno or Neutrogena, or you can modify one to deliver more moisture to injured skin. Modify the body scrub by mixing it with the gel of a vitamin E capsule, aloe vera gel, olive oil and cod liver oil. Rub this mixture on the body with brisk motions that move toward the heart. Rinse and moisturize.
Moisturize your skin with natural ingredients that boost the elasticity of the epidermis. You can buy a fancy cream in a designer bottle, or you can buy the essential ingredients that deliver the greatest impact. One such ingredient is cocoa butter. Apply cocoa butter cream to the affected skin a few times per days, especially after bathing and before bedtime. For more intense concentrations, try a cocoa butter stick. These require more time to soften and liquefy to the point that the cocoa butter is absorbed by the skin.
Shop around for stretch mark creams. You can buy over-the-counter formulations or get a prescription-level cream. Look for active ingredients such a peptides, an effective element for building up collagen in dehydrated or injured skin. Another effective ingredient is Sigesbeckia orientalis, which smooths out the bumps and ridges made by stretch marks. Some effective natural ingredients include shea butter cocoa butter, Vitamin C, E and A. Some creams contain alpha hydroxy acids which accelerate the skin’s process of shedding old cells.
Consider the many options for severe or multiple stretch marks. Some women opt for chemical peels, which require one or more visits to the dermatologist. Others have settled upon cosmetic surgery, such as laser or light therapy, the most expensive and intensive method for removing stretch marks after pregnancy.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing should consult with a physician or homeopath before using herbal or prescription medications to remove stretch marks.