Can you really prevent stretch marks when you’re expecting a baby? More than 90 per cent of pregnant women develop those annoying slivers during their last trimester, though they may appear on non-pregnant women and adolescents too, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
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.
Even surgical methods like dermabrasion, chemical peels or laser surgery cannot guarantee total removal.
(Also read: Saggy belly skin after giving birth: What you can do)
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.
A version of this article first appeared on Shape Singapore; additional reporting by Young Parents.
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