When you get pregnant, you relinquish your body to the unsynchronised choreography of your hormones. You start indulging in cuisines or dishes that you didn’t like before, the quantity of food that you are happily consuming seem out of proportion, unwelcomed nausea doesn’t leave your side, your innerwear becomes a size too small, weight gain and water retention start to feel normal, and your belly seems to be expanding indefinitely for your little one to grow.

While pregnant mamas are adjusting and coping with all these bodily changes, they are also trying really hard to avoid tiny craters, aka stretch marks, on their bodies, particularly on their bellies. According to a Yummy Mummy Survey by AC Nielsen Group, 87 percent of new and expecting moms-to-be in India agree that they worry about their physical appearances during and post-pregnancy. Moreover, 90 percent of new and expecting mothers agree that stretch marks are among the most worrisome issues concerning their looks. In fact, the global stretch marks treatment market size was valued at USD 2.1 billion in 2018 and is projected to expand at a CAGR of 8.04% by 2026.  

Every woman has a bitter-sweet relationship with pregnancy stretch marks. Some women aren’t affected by their uniquely patented stripes; some describe it as their baby’s first artistic drawings, while others aren’t too comfortable with its appearance. Millions of women worldwide invest in the claims of various products that claim to reduce the visibility of stretch marks, hoping to get smooth and clear skin they once had before they got pregnant.

To give us an in-depth perspective on prenatal and postnatal skincare issues, Kidskintha interacted with Dr. Jasbirkaur Karel, a famous dermatologist in Mumbai. During our interaction, she highlighted the common causes of developing stretch marks, effective treatments, vital skincare routine during and after pregnancy, pigmentation, acne, and the variety of surgical treatments available. Read this interview to know how the world of dermatology is addressing the common prenatal and postnatal skincare problems.

In conversation with Dr. Jasbirkaur Karel. 

Hi Dr. Jasbir. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. The majority of women develop stretch marks post-pregnancy. Please tell us what are stretch marks? What are the reasons for getting stretch marks?

Preventing stretch marks: Jasbir Kaur Patel

Stretch marks are a type of scar that forms if your skin stretches or shrinks quickly. The stretching and shrinking cause proteins in the skin (collagen and elastin) to break down. The skin then tries to heal itself but leaves behind the scars we call stretch marks. Stretch marks have a different color and texture than your normal skin, and they range from purple to bright pink to light gray.  

What are the common places to develop stretch marks during pregnancy?

Between 50 and 90 percent of women who are pregnant experience stretch marks during or after birth. The abdomen, breast, hip, thigh, and buttocks are commonly affected. 

Also Read: Postpartum Baby Bonding: Why The Golden Hour is The Birth Right of Every Child

In which month of pregnancy stretch marks appear?

Stretch marks, on average, appear during the sixth month of pregnancy.

Can you avoid stretch marks during pregnancy?

Even the best cream for pregnancy stretch marks in India cannot guarantee that you will not develop stretch marks during pregnancy. Many factors influence this, such as the quality of your skin, your genes, the skincare routine you follow during pregnancy, the products you use and how often you use them, etc. 

What would you say is the best stretch mark prevention during pregnancy? (What is the best stretch mark pregnancy cream/oil to prevent the development of stretch marks) 

Many creams, ointments, and oils are available in the market, but no product gives a 100 percent guarantee to remove or prevent stretch marks. From the second trimester, expecting mothers can apply coconut oil, vitamin E enriched Argan oil, olive oil, almond oil, olive oil, castor oil, or herbal oils on the areas that are prone to stretch marks. Many women apply a combination of these oils. It is essential to have a nutritionally dense diet during pregnancy and have at least three liters of water every day. Hydrating the body, both internally and externally, during pregnancy is essential. 

What is best for preventing stretch marks in pregnancy?

Mothers need to understand that completely preventing stretch marks isn’t possible. The maximum weight gain happens during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. That’s why expecting moms should religiously apply their chosen oils and stretch marks pregnancy creams and ointments in stretch mark prone areas: abdomen, breast, hip, thigh, and buttocks.

Genetically if you have great skin, you may have very few stretch marks after pregnancy. Many women, after delivery, don’t have any stretch marks on their stomachs. It largely depends on your skin quality. 

How to treat stretch mark itchiness?

You feel itchy when your skin is being stretched. Itchiness and pinkish skin are early signs of stretch marks. So it would help if you kept hydrating your skin with oils, creams, or ointments. This will help calm your skin. The external application can take place three times a day, depending on the intensity of the itchiness. Ensure you opt for pregnancy-safe skincare brands only. 

How to reduce the appearance of stretch marks? How long do pregnancy stretch marks take to fade? Do pregnancy breast stretch marks go away?

There are lots of oils, creams, and ointments available in the market that claim to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Even the best postpartum skincare products do not guarantee to clear stretch marks completely. With the regular application of oils and creams, stretch marks tend to become less visible. Vitamin A and Vitamin E help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

For some women, stretch marks may disappear within six to eight months post-giving birth. For some, the stretch marks do not fade at all. Many women opt for surgical repair treatments that take care of sagginess, loose skin, and stretch marks post-pregnancy. Treatments such as Fractional C02 Laser are available postpartum. This is a resurfacing laser that helps form a new layer of the skin, thereby reducing the visibility of stretch marks. 

How can I treat stretch marks during pregnancy?

As the baby grows, the skin around the abdomen stretches. During pregnancy, the abdomen and breasts grow enormously, stretching the skin beyond its usual capacity. Post-pregnancy, when the additional weight is lost, the stretched skin becomes loose, leaving marks that are hard to get rid of. 

These are the most common questions around pregnancy stretch marks – How to get rid of pregnancy stretch marks? How to prevent pregnancy stretch marks? How to remove pregnancy stretch marks? It is imperative to understand that no amount of pregnancy stretch mark lotions or oils can prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. It all depends on a woman’s genes, skin stretchability, collagen, her skincare routine that she follows during and after pregnancy, and the amount of hydration she provides her body, both internally and externally. 

It is imperative to stick to a strict skin-care regime that hydrates the skin, thereby minimizing the appearance of stretch marks. 

When should I start using stretch mark cream during pregnancy? What skincare products do you suggest for pregnant women to use during pregnancy?

Expecting women should start applying creams and oils in the second trimester. It’s best to use vitamin A and E-rich creams and oils or a combination of oils depending on the skin type. This will keep the skin hydrated and moisturized, so the chances of developing stretch marks will reduce. Pregnant women should also incorporate sunscreen into their daily routine.

Does lemon or vaseline remove stretch marks? Do pregnancy stretch marks go away with exercise?

Lemon or vaseline do not help in removing stretch marks. Exercise or yoga during pregnancy keeps your skin toned. This may reduce sagginess postpartum, but it may not be accurate for every woman. 

Can stretch marks be removed permanently? If so, please explain.

No pregnancy stretch mark removal creams, oils, or procedures can erase stretch marks permanently. 

What are the common skin conditions during pregnancy?

Jasbirkaur Patel at work on treating skin conditions

Stretch marks are the most common. Even pigmentation around the nose, mouth area, skin folds, and neck are common during pregnancy. Linea nigra, a black line from the navel to the pubic area, is also quite common.  

The darkening of the skin in patches and acne takes place due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Some women develop pigmentation on the cheek area. This is called Chloasma, also known as melasma or the “mask of pregnancy.” It is very prominent during pregnancy, and for 75 percent of women, it goes away post-delivery. If you have chloasma, you need to apply good sunscreen and antioxidant cream to the affected area. 

Also Read: Live Love Babywear: Helping New Moms Make The Right Decisions From The Get-Go

How can pregnant women take care of their skin during pregnancy?

Hydrate your skin. Have at least three liters of water every day. Stick to a skincare regime that should include safe antioxidant cream, sunscreen, vitamin E-rich moisturizers, and herbal oils. This will help in conditioning the skin.

Include skin-nourishing foods rich in antioxidants like spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, foods containing vitamin E, nuts, seeds, avocados, broccoli, and greens.

Would you please share some postpregnancy skincare tips?

New moms tend to overlook their needs and concentrate primarily on the newborn. As a result, they complain of hair loss within two or three months postpartum, and their D3, D12, iron, and calcium become low. Here are some of my tips for body care after delivery:

  1. Have three to four well-balanced home-cooked meals with at least three liters of water daily.
  2. Take your oral vitamins post-delivery as well. 
  3. Rest when the baby is sleeping. 
  4. Postpartum depression is very real. Women who feel they are facing any PPD issues should opt for therapy. 
  5. A mother’s body needs time to repair and heal postpartum. The family’s unwavering support helps tremendously at this time. So, do ask for help and reach out to your near and dear ones.
  6. Postpartum body massages have numerous benefits for the new mom. These massages have been a part of our culture for a long time, and I highly recommend new moms enjoy their massages every day. 
  7. Small amounts of exercise every day, breathing exercises, or yoga also helps tone muscles. 
  8. Good nutritious homemade food helps repair the body after childbirth. So eat on time and keep yourself hydrated. 

Why do breasts become saggy after breastfeeding?

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the skin on the breasts gets stretched, and the elasticity gets disturbed. 

During pregnancy, breasts grow larger to prepare for breastfeeding. After the baby’s birth, breast milk fills your breasts, stretching the skin even more. Once you wean your child and the breast milk dries up, your breasts may appear smaller, less full, and even saggy.

What can mothers do to get them back in shape? 

A good maternity bra is always recommended for breastfeeding moms. Mothers should massage their breasts regularly. Healthy, moisturized skin may bounce back better than dry skin. Just be sure to choose products that are safe for pregnant and nursing women.

Do you offer any stretch marks pregnancy treatment?

Yes, I do. I offer Fractional C02 Laser and derma, derma rollers, and skin tightening radio frequency which helps in reducing the visibility of stretch marks and sagging. 

Did You Know?

Stretch marks can be genetic – If your mother or sister had stretch marks, then you’re more likely to have them too.

About Dr. JasbirKaur 

Dr. JasbirKaur is one of the youngest Aestheticians & Cosmetologists of reputation in the B town. Her 10plus years of experience in Lasers, Anti-aging therapies, Hair solutions, and skincare have made her a renowned personality in the sector. With the vision of delivering ultimate results to meet her clients’ satisfaction, she has been updating herself constantly with new advanced approaches in cosmetology.

Contact Dr. Jasbir on Dermaessentia

Photo by Daniel Reche from Pexels