As your body grows to accommodate your baby, your skin must stretch. If you're like about half of all pregnant women, you may start to notice lines on your breasts and belly by the 2nd or 3rd trimester. These lines, which are called stretch marks, are actually tiny scars caused by the skin stretching out so fast that it tears beneath the surface layer. Women who have very fair or very dark skin are the most inclined to develop visible stretch marks.
Not all stretch marks will disappear after pregnancy, but most will fade. Other than maintaining a sensible weight gain and hoping for good genes, there's really not much you can do to prevent them, though some women swear by everything from expensive creams to vitamin E. If you don't like the sight of your stretch marks after your baby is born, you can have them safely lightened with laser treatments in a dermatologist's office.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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