Most women who have gone through the rigors of pregnancy have a permanent reminder - stretch marks. These marks appear as red or dark horizontal threads along the skin, and can become permanent scars.

Stretch marks occur when skin stretches and expands quickly and beyond its limit. Tiny tears appear in the supporting layers of skin. Pregnancy stretch marks are most common on the abdomen, breasts, thighs or buttocks. The issue is how to get rid of stretch marks?

Factors that influence whether or not a pregnant woman will get stretch marks include:
  • Heredity: if your mother had them, it is likely you will too.

  • Ethnicity: women with greater amounts of melanin in their skin are less prone.

  • Water: ingested during pregnancy, keeping skin hydrated decreases the chance a woman will get stretch marks.

  • Scratching: as your stomach expands, the skin may become scratchy. Do not scratch; instead, rub lotion or powder on to alleviate the itchiness.

  • Exercise: daily to keep your skin supple and free from toxins. This will help by toning the skin of your body and increasing its elasticity.

Prevention is Better than Treatment or Removal

The best remedy for stretch marks, and the primary way to avoid them is to be careful during pregnancy. Keep your body well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will increase the elasticity of your skin and prevent stretch marks from appearing. Apply generous amounts of rich moisturizing cream on your abdomen, thighs and breasts (cocoa butter cream is a favorite among expecting mothers). This saturates your skin with moisture.

Eat proper nutritious food so that you do not gain more weight than is necessary. Rapid, uncontrollable weight gain is a primary cause of stretch marks. A balanced diet also ensures that you get adequate amounts of Vitamin A, E and C, which help to maintain the suppleness of the skin. Follow a regular exercise routine that will help in maintaining your weight.

Stretch Mark Treatment and Removal

Among the temporary solutions for stretch marks is the application of specially formulated stretch mark creams. These creams contain cocoa butter, wheat germ oil and lanolin. They help to heal stretch marks by rebuilding the structure of your skin. The use of concealing or camouflaging cosmetics on the affected area will reduce the visibility of the stretch mark scars.

One of the permanent solutions that have come up in recent times is laser therapy. This is typically a simple procedure and usually requires little or no recovery time. Using lasers to remove stretch marks works because it repairs the skin's natural synthesis of collagen. Collagen is a protein rich compound occurring in the body that repairs and rejuvenates skin tissue. Cosmetic laser treatment for stretch marks works to stimulate renewed growth of depleted collagen. It removes damaged skin tissue, seals broken blood vessels and repairs the fibers of the middle skin. This helps in filling the stretch marks. This can, however, be a relatively expensive option. Blue light therapy is another option. This treatment uses gel and light to treat stretch marks. You may also consider plastic surgery for the permanent removal of your stretch marks.

A new treatment is the use of chemical compounds called retinoids - specifically, retinaldehyde, tretinoin or isotretinoin. Under proper medical supervision, they have yielded favorable results in the treatment of stretch marks.

Written by Michelle O'Connor from Perfect Pregnancy