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Stretch Marks – The Beauty Marks of Motherhood

With pregnancy come scars. These scars are in the form of stretch marks that can warp around your stomach, hips, thighs, legs and even arms. Most of the time, they don’t appear until after the baby is born providing a medallion that proves you made it through one of the most complicated journeys of womanhood‘…pregnancy. Stretch marks can be upsetting whether you are vain or not – as they never really go away. They can inhibit your self esteem post partum to the extent that come vacation time, you settle for one of those hideous bathing suits with complex geometric designs that have a girdle and skirt built right in. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Stretch marks are not really caused by just the stretching of the skin. There are more factors that predispose a woman to getting stretch marks in her life than just pregnancy. Some of the factors are hereditary and looking at how well or ‘not so well’’ your mother faired is a great indicator of how you may look. The primary cause of stretch marks is actually hormonal changes in the body. While it’s true that pregnancy and puberty are normal times for woman to notice stretch marks, it is largely due the hormonal changes that are taking place in the body. When hormones are produced in the body, our skin cells actually metabolize them and it causes a distinct change in the look, feel and elasticity of the skin. This is why ridiculously thin people are even prone to stretch marks.

Gaining and losing weight also cause hormonal redistribution which affects the outer and inner layers of the skin. In addition to stretch marks, hormonal changes can cause redness, patches of dry skin, lesions and other less than beautiful reactions to the skin. Unfortunately, none of these just disappear or go away after pregnancy.

Obviously, during pregnancy the skin on your abdomen and hips is stretched to unthinkable sizes. It can be itchy and red while you are pregnant and you may begin to notice some of the red or purple stretch marks near the third trimester of pregnancy. Once you have the baby and lose some of the swelling in your stomach the stretch marks can look worse as they take time to heal. Eventually, they will settle into soft white folds of skin that seem to shrink as you return to your normal size. What you should know is that taking care of your skin from puberty onward is vital to how well your skin does during pregnancy. Using retinoid, alpha hydroxyl and steroid crèmes can largely reduce the response your skin has to hormones. Understand that this is something you should do before conception in order to prevent stretch marks from ruining your bikini dreams.

During pregnancy you have to be very careful about what you use on your skin. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and chemicals are directly absorbed into your blood stream when placed on the surface of the skin. Many of the creams you will find specifically for stretch marks have vast amounts of lanolin or petroleum and are essentially used to ease the discomfort of stretch marks and keep your skin pliable. They won’t necessarily prevent them, but they will help them to be smaller in size. It is advised to begin using quality lotions and creams before conception on your abdomen, hips, neck, chest and buttocks to try and reduce the amount of stretch marks suffered during pregnancy. If you didn’t prepare, then start massaging yourself down with moisturizers during pregnancy. If nothing else, it can feel good and be beneficial to your skin all over.

It is estimated that up to 80% of all woman have stretch marks somewhere on their body whether they have had children or not. Some women have it much worse than others and they can lead to unsightly scarring on your body. Vitamin E creams have long been marketed to try and reduce the scarring and there are plenty of others on the market that have a hopeful audience of woman splurging in an attempt to erase stretch marks. The thing is, that they really are superficial. They are not an indicator of your health and shouldn’t be a measure of your happiness. Stretch marks are a routine part of aging, as common as graying hair and as easy to overlook as they are to obsess over. If you have them and feel insecure about them than try to hide them as best you can. Trying to get a tan and taking care of your skin can help you along the way, but they really shouldn’t be debilitating to your self esteem. You are much more than a stretch mark.

For women who have their first run in with stretch marks during pregnancy, it is something that you can look back on later to prove you gave birth to the brazen child in your presence. Some people call them battle scars while others refer to them as maps that can remind them where they have been and where they are going. The bottom line is that they are cosmetic idiosyncrasies that accompany pregnancy. The hot Hollywood yummy mummies have them just like you do and there is really much you can do about them once they appear. To date, treatments have ranged from microdermabrasion to laser surgeries and none of them have a 100% success rate at removal of stretch marks. Your best bet is to live with them, wear the bikini because you deserve it and move on to other more important areas of your life that are fulfilling. While they are there and ever present, stretch marks are insignificant in the larger scope of things.

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