Stretch Marks During and After Pregnancy
Stretch Marks & Pregnancy
Are they preventable? Can they be removed?
Pregnant Cambodian women work religiously to prevent stretch marks from forming. They employ the same tactics on their gradually stretching skin that their ancestors have done for thousands of years.
First they take long, hot showers or baths, making sure that their abdomens and breasts are constantly splashed or submerged. The heat and the water open up the skin pores, causing the skin to become more receptive to the treatment about to be given. Then the women rub oils deep into their skin, in a slow, deep circular motion. They don’t use their hands to do the rubbing. They use a smooth pumice stone. They say this gets the healing oil down in there much better.
These women claim that the oils or creams can be virtually any kind, but the ones that work best have infusions of natural Vitamins E and A.
The ritual described above is done two or three times a day, throughout the entire pregnancy. The focus that’s required for this tedium never wavers.
And lo and behold, when these women are full term, they almost never have any stretch marks.
And after their babies are born, they repeat the same self-treatment, with just as much dedication as when their bodies were swelling.
And again, they are almost always free of any stretch marks.
How can this be? Overstretched skin is unavoidable, the inevitable price of bearing children. The elastin and collagen that make up the skin get overextended and disrupted, and there’s no way that won’t show, correct? The hormones that run rampant in the body when it’s pregnant are suspected skin disrupters, as well. So, what’s the Cambodian secret? How do these women do it? It’s not the least bit unusual to see an Asian with a newborn baby, walking around in a bikini, sporting a smooth, taut belly. Is the preventative bathing and creaming and rubbing really all that it takes?
The answer is most likely no. Lucky genetics is in all probability playing a major role here. The inborn ability to thwart stretch marks may be just as prevalent in Asians as their characteristic straight black hair. But don’t knock their preventative regimens. Their devotion to their daily self-treatments most likely plays a big role, too.
And so does the health-giving Asian diet. The plentitude of fresh vegetables, fruits, and fish, all rendered in a traditionally low-fat cuisine, is certainly another strong factor. Foods that keep the body well-nourished and slim are foods that are good for the health of the skin, and its ability to auto-repair.
Regular exercise and avoidance of tobacco are likely to also be factors.
For all women prone to get stretch marks, the removal of scars that are already established is a challenge even worse than prevention. Short of a surgical procedure that costs a king’s ransom and involves cutting skin right off, reduction, not a total removal, is the only realistic hope. Laser therapy and microdermabrasion are procedures that may help. The appointments for these treatments add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars, and the results may be disappointing. At most, the striations and furrows will be lessened and thinned somewhat. For older, whitened scars, a new therapy is available that’s somewhat akin to tanning: a pulsing light system pigments the white, and this lasts about a year. Then it needs a redoing.
Meanwhile, the people most likely to get stretch marks await the announcement by science that the stretch mark gene has been isolated, and will soon be repressible. And someday, they hope, the hormones responsible for making stretch marks worse will also be tamed and made harmless.
Then, and only then, will all women from all genetic backgrounds have the option of prenatal and postnatal skin exactly like their new babys’.