Monday, 2 December 2013

Stretchmarks. Part two.

When you're pregnant, you anticipate and in some cases welcome the changes in your body. Watching as your stomach slowly swells to make room for your growing baby, for instance, is an amazing thing and probably the only time you'll ever love having a proper belly. You're making a baby. You can deal with it later.

Stretchmarks however, are a different kettle of fish. For me, this time round, going full term stretched my stomach to the max and not surprisingly, I've got the stretchmarks to show for it. In all honesty, it doesn't bother me that much and like a little tattoo, they represent an amazing experience. Yet I'd like a little less of them and it's something I'm asked about. A LOT. So here's the real deal.

'Certain lasers can be used to improve the redness associated with fresh stretchmarks,' says top Cosmetic Dermatologist (and my favourite, go-to skincare expert) Dr Sam Bunting. 'And medical needling treatments can help 'fill in' the dips you see with older stretchmarks,' adds Dr Bunting. 'However, multiple treatments are often required and perfection isn't a realistic expectation.'

And creams? 'Stretchmarks basically represent torn elastin fibres in the dermis,' adds Dr Bunting. 'Creams cannot repair this. Topical retinoids can improve the appearance of stretchmarks - but they need to be used for three to six months to make any impact. And of course, retinoids shouldn't be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.' 

So there you have it. Of course, keeping your skin as moisturised as possible during your pregnancy is still worth doing and I swear that applying a little oil post-shower (see my post on stretchmark oils) is worth doing. But they're not miracle workers. So don't become too reliant on them or too despondent when your stretchmarks aren't shifting.

Follow Dr Sam Bunting's skincare blog at www.drsambunting.wordpress.com.