More than half of all pregnant women develop stretch marks, which are pinkish streaks around their stomachs, breasts, or hips. Collagen and elastin (the fibers that keep your skin taut) stretch and snap during pregnancy, and stretch marks happen when your body expands faster than your skin does. Whether you get them depends mostly on your pregnancy and your genetics, says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D. If your mom or grandma developed stretch marks, you’re more likely to get them too. While there’s no surefire way to prevent stretch marks, these tips can keep them to a minimum during your pregnancy.
Healthy Weight Gain: Gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight (25 to 35 pounds for normal-weight women) may help keep stretch marks to a minimum, since this prevents your skin from overstretching.
Staying Moisturized: Keep your skin moisturized and hydrated throughout your pregnancy. “The more pliable your skin is, the less chance there is that stretch marks will appear,” Dr. Engelman explains. During her last pregnancy, she layered a few different moisturizers on her belly every day, including Bio-Oil and Serica Moisturizing Stretch Mark Formula (it has a 50 percent silicone base and contains Amazonian pracaxi oil), which she says helps with healing. Cocoa butter and other lotions can also help with the itching that tends to accompany stretch marks.
Concealing Stretch Marks: If you need to conceal stretch marks, try appealing self-tanner, since stretch marks are much more visible on pale skin.
After delivery, stretch marks usually fade to a light, silvery hue, and may be hardly noticeable over time. But if you're still unhappy with the way they look, a dermatologist might be able to help. Prescription Retin-A or Renova creams, as well as certain laser treatments, have been found to minimize the appearance of some stretch marks. These are most effective when the marks are new, so if you're interested, talk to a dermatologist after your baby arrives.