Belly Stretch Marks
Stretch Marks Info
Creation can cause destruction.
Ah, the ironies of living in our bodies.
There’s a photo online of a glowing young woman in her 37th week of pregnancy. She’s pulled up her shirt to show a profile of her amazingly huge, bulbous belly. Her face is turned toward the camera, and her joy is impossible to miss. Her eyes are lit up with a radiant love, and her smile is as wide a bride’s.
But all across her belly are slashes of angry red scars. From right above her navel down to the bottom of the big curve, that part of her looks almost burned. She’s obviously not in any pain from that damage, but you can see that her skin’s been through hell.
And you just know that after her baby is born, and her joy multiplies by a thousand, whenever she looks at her postpartum belly, that joy just might take a plunge.
Are there ways to prevent belly stretch marks?
Stretch marks occur because the elastic supportive tissue in the dermis---the middle layer of skin---gets pulled to the point where it tears. The startling bright hues of new stretch marks are caused by slight dermal bleeding. This damage in the dermis is visible because the epidermis---the surface skin layer---has also been stretched too far, and has thinned to transparency.
Over half of all pregnant women get stretch marks on their bellies. Research indicates that genetics plays a role. If your mother or sister got stretch marks during pregnancy, then chances are great that you will also.
One way to prevent getting worse scars is to not put on extra fat. “Baby weight” gain should be no more than 25 to 35 pounds. Other ways to prevent the worst scars are pointless to consider, as in don’t ever have a big baby, and don’t have multiple births.
There’s much disagreement about whether or not preventative lotions and massages will work. Medical professionals declare there’s no proof, but there’s plenty of testimony from the mothers themselves that certain self-treatments do the trick. Whether or not the real reason is lucky genetics remains a mystery.
Their recommendations of fortified creams and oils are mind-boggling in their diversity. So are the various methods suggested for rubbing all those salves in. What emerges from this hubbub from those who proclaim success are two real possibilities: massage of the belly improves healing circulation, and may slightly open the skin pores. Then additives in the salves just might have a chance of actually getting down into the dermis and promoting less stress and tearing.
Among the additives vouched for are vitamins E, C, A and K, squalene, Tiger’s herb, and egg white. Each of them has properties that promote healing and promote the production of collagen, the building-block of new skin. The challenge is getting them in there, really down in there where they might do some good. Certain salves seem to be better at this than others, or at least they’re more pleasant to apply. The all-time favorite is cocoa butter. It absorbs well, feels good and smells wonderful. Other oils and creams mentioned that are non-greasy and absorb fast are olive oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and shea butter.
Do belly stretch marks ever go away?
Stretch marks tend to become a lot less pronounced six to twelve months after childbirth. The vivid hue fades, but a whiteness remains that is lighter than normal skin. While this is somewhat less noticeable than the angry red or purple new scars, you may be distressed by the difference in texture, and the lack of pigmentation.
At this point, if you can afford it, you may want to talk to a dermatologist about procedures that can diminish the white scars. You also might want to try a topical treatment derived from Retin-A. However, you don’t want to try this until after pregnancy and breastfeeding, because of possible harmful effects on the baby.