Pregnancy Stretch Marks: Prevention and Treatment 

Before we dive in, I want you to know that genetics play a big role in determining whether or not you are prone to developing stretch marks. 

So, if you get them (or have them), it’s not your fault!

There are some ingredients that are proven through research to be better than others when it comes to helping stretch marks; but please know, there’s not a solution that will 100% prevent them.  

With that out on the table…. don’t believe all the marketing ploys of brands that claim their product can prevent you from getting stretch marks in pregnancy.

While there isn't a way to prevent stretch marks there are MANY ways to improve them after pregnancy and even more after breastfeeding. 

Maybe that’s not the best news, but it’s nice to manage your expectations. So let’s dive in!

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks, also known as striae gravidarum or striae distensae, are a common skin condition characterized by the appearance of lines or streaks on the skin. 

What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks occur when the skin is stretched beyond its normal limits, causing the dermis, which is the middle layer of the skin, to tear. When the skin tears, the underlying blood vessels become visible, resulting in the characteristic red, purple, or white/silvery streaks.

Common conditions that affect the skin's elasticity such as rapid weight gain or loss, pregnancy, or puberty.

Stretch marks can be further divided into two main categories:

  • Striae Rubrae: These are early-stage stretch marks that appear as reddish or purplish lines on the skin. They are generally not indented thus easier to treat than mature stretch marks.
  • Striae Albae: These are mature stretch marks that have faded to a silvery-white color. They can be the result of the skin healing and the blood vessels no longer being visible; age and prolonged use of corticosteroid medications often cause these too. Striae Albae are more difficult to treat than Striae Rubrae.

Stretch Mark Prevention and Treatment

I'm going to say it again so we don't forget {we have a lot of unlearning to do}.... While there’s no single ingredient that has been proven to prevent the development of stretch marks, there are several ingredients that have shown promise in *helping* prevent their formation and reducing their appearance.

Here are some of those ingredients to look for: (Note: These are pregnancy/ breastfeeding safe )

  • Hyaluronic acid: This ingredient helps to improve skin hydration and elasticity. It also helps to reduce the appearance of existing stretch marks by plumping up the skin and improving its texture.
  • Vitamin E: This antioxidant helps with inflammation, improves skin elasticity, and promotes collagen production, which helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
  • Centella Asiatica: This plant extract, also known as Gotu Kola, has been shown to improve collagen synthesis and skin hydration to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Centella Asiatica has anti-inflammatory properties and will improve the appearance of redness. (It’s also in a lot of creams for rosacea; most popularly known as Tigergrass in the Dr. Jart Cicapair line.)

Stretch Mark Skincare:

These are the products I used while pregnant and breastfeeding. I'm still a fan of good 'ol coconut oil

There are additional treatments to consider: (Note: These are for AFTER Pregnancy/ Breastfeeding )

  • Retinoids: Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A that are commonly used in skincare for their ability to increase collagen production and improve skin texture. They’ve been shown to be effective in reducing the appearance of stretch marks, particularly when used in combination with other ingredients such as vitamin E and hyaluronic acid.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): AHAs such as glycolic acid and lactic acid are exfoliating agents that help remove dead skin cells and improve skin texture. They’ve been shown to be effective in reducing the appearance of stretch marks by promoting collagen production and improving skin elasticity.
  • SBS DAILY TONING PADS: These convenient pads are pre-soaked with glycolic and salicylic acids to facilitate exfoliation and oil control ultimately helping improve skin elasticity and collagen levels.
  • Chemical peels: Chemical peels involve the application of a chemical solution to the skin, which causes the top layer of skin to peel off. This promotes new skin growth and reduces the appearance of stretch marks.
  • Microneedling: Microneedling involves creating tiny punctures in the skin to promote collagen production, which may help improve the appearance of stretch marks.
  • Laser treatments: Laser therapy is a medical procedure that uses high-energy light to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. These will be ablative lasers meaning they treat the dermis of the skin. In most states these have to be performed by a medical professional- MD/DO/PA/NP.

While these ingredients have shown promise in reducing the appearance of stretch marks it's important to remember:

stretch marks are in the dermis so the best treatments penetrate the dermis- microneedling and ablative lasers

What works for one person may not work for another. And that’s ok!! You have to remember, consistency and patience are key when it comes to all types of skin care, and it can take several weeks or even months before you see results.

So, when it comes down to it, do your best to moisturize out of love for your body while pregnant. You can schedule an appointment at your local plastic surgery or cosmetic dermatology office post pregnancy to make a treatment plan!

While you may think that sounds drastic I want to set realistic expectations so you don't waste your money on products that won't get you to your goals. Knowledge is power. You can’t make an informed choice unless you have the details on price, downtime, and expectations. So make the appointment. 

here's your main takeaway >>
Please know that stretch marks do improve with time! But if you’re wanting to see true improvement, the answer is not a cream. It’s an in-office procedure.