Stretch marks can affect anyone.
When it comes to stretch marks, prevention is better than cure. (Photo: Robert Przybysz / www.123rf.com)
Ugh, stretch marks. Those annoying slivers that creep up unknowingly and then, never go away. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 90 per cent of pregnant women develop stretch marks during their last trimester, though they may appear on non-pregnant women and adolescents too.
Case-in-point: Slender US model Chrissy Teigen, who has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. The wife of singer John Legend famously Instagrammed the stretch marks on her legs last April, captioning it “hi #stretchies!” (If you’re wondering, she posted the snap a few months before she became pregnant with her first child.)
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks are often associated with rapid growth from puberty and rapid weight gain, says Dr Dennis Kwan, medical director at Dermacare Aesthetic & Laser Clinic. Conversely, extreme weight loss can also bring about those scars.
When skin ﬁbres are overstretched, the middle layer known as the dermis is torn, and scars are left behind. Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body, such as the breasts, upper arms, lower back, belly, thighs and hips.
They may ﬁrst appear red or purplish and become white, silvery ribbons over time. “Stretch marks may lighten, but will not disappear completely,” says Dr Kwan.
So, surgery is the only way to remove stretch marks?
Even surgical methods like dermabrasion, chemical peels or laser surgery cannot guarantee total removal. A less costly option would be to use lotions and creams with Retin-A or Tazorac. They won’t make them magically disappear in a day, but they even out your skin tone so scars appear less visible. Some also improve your skin’s elasticity.
Of course, prevention is better than cure. Experts recommend that pregnant women apply such products on the abdomen, hips, thighs, and bum throughout the course of pregnancy and continue for a month afterwards. Plus, a steady weight gain of 10 to 12.5kg over the course of one’s pregnancy could help reduce stretch marks. Check out these exercises you can do safely when preggers.