Post pregnancy stretch marks are a bitter reality which requires your unadulterated attention.

Once you successfully complete your pregnancy and delivery your baby, you realize how your body had suffered intense wear and tear. Standing in front of the mirror was never so tough for you, we can tell. But ladies, running away from reality won’t get you anything, you have to face the reality of your over-sized, scarred and not-so-fit body and start working to get it all fixed now.

Yes, put on some motivational sound tracks on your iPod and be a new, motivated woman who embraces her bodily flaws and works to get her pre-pregnancy shape back.

You can do this, you definitely can!

Your baby is likely to be nocturnal specie at present, who gives you the perks of distracted night sleep, headaches and puffed eyes, yes we know your misery. Please be assured that you aren’t alone.

With your puffed eyes and strained cognition, you need to be strong and stroll down to know how stretch mark removal can work best for you.

We wish, we had a magic wand that would vanish you stretch marks in seconds, but we clearly aren’t as lucky as Cinderella and no fairy-god-mother can come to help. So you have got to buckle up and be your own helper.

What does it take for stretch mark removal? What stretch mark treatment works best? Is laser stretch mark removal an option? Do the stretch mark removal creams actually work or are they just a sham?

Stretch Mark Removal

When the question of “stretch mark removal” pops in your head, it is inevitable to not ponder upon all the factors associated with stretch mark removal treatment.

Hitting the drug store, you will be puzzled looking at all the self-proclaimed “best stretch mark removal creams” and you will end up asking yourself, “Do these stretch mark removal creams really worth your money and time?”.

But what about that advert of a laser treatment, you saw last week?  “Laser treatment for stretch mark removal” does it really exist? It sounds too good to be true but what if these laser treatments don’t work and waste my money, you might be bothered by yet another question.

But, worry not as we have compiled a list of stretch mark removal treatment which includes stretch mark removal creams, stretch mark removal laser treatment, stretch mark removal home remedies and even surgery options for stretch mark removal. But before, we jump to the much-awaited ways for stretch mark removal; we will quickly look at what stretch marks are.

What Are Stretch Marks? What Causes Stretch Marks In Pregnant Women?

Stretch marks essentially are the white-silver tinted lines that appear on your skin when the connective tissues in your skin are made to stretch beyond their elastic ability. The stretching of skin has a deeply-knitted association with pregnancy as your skin stretches to make room for your baby to grow in your womb.  Often women have stretch marks in their abdominal area during and after pregnancy; however it is also common to have them over upper arms, breasts, thighs and buttocks.

Medically termed as striae gravidarum, these stretch marks have a tinge of purple or red at the beginning which gradually is turned into white-silver coloration.

During pregnancy, many hormonal changes take place in a woman’s body to prepare for a successful completion of her pregnancy. Particularly focusing on the underlying reasons and physiological changes which lead towards stretch mark formation, the hormonal changes cause the pelvic ligaments to soften. The softening of pelvic ligaments makes the ligaments flexible to help the child pass through the birth canal during birth-giving process.

The hormones that are increasing the flexibility of pelvic ligaments are also causing the fibers in skin cells to soften to make room for the growing baby in the womb. As the skin stretches, it makes you prone to having stretch marks which can fade gradually with time but usually they do not permanently disappear.

According to a study published in British Journal of Dermatology, at the molecular level, the disturbance in the connective tissues in skin including elastic fibers and collagen fibrils decreases strength and elasticity in skin. As a result of this disturbance which is partially mediated by pregnancy hormones like glucocorticoids, macrophages and infiltrating mast cells, the collagen bundles are made prone to thinning, the microfibrils in fibrillin are reduced and elastic fibers are disorganized. These changes consequently cause stretch marks to appear.

NHS UK suggests that stretch marks in pregnancy are very common which affect 8 out of every 10 women during their pregnancy. While, these stretch marks do not have any associated health threat or medical condition; they are often source of insecurity for women.

Scarring doesn’t leave its marks on the body but also negatively influences the mental health for many women. If you aren’t happy with the way your body looks, it can trigger a sense of insecurity leading you to become anxious and less confident about yourself. Thereby, it is of utmost importance to know the most suitable ways for stretch mark removal.

Post-pregnancy Stretch Mark Removal

Here are some effective ways for getting rid of stretch marks. By the end of this read, you will definitely know which treatment for stretch mark removal works best for you.

  1. Retinoic Acid Cream Is What You Need For Stretch Mark Removal

Retinoic acid can do wonders for you. It can help you by boosting production of the structural protein in your skin, known as collagen which consequently helps your skin to stretch out and mend the marks.

Retinoic acid is a category of a compound, retinoid which is an essential biological molecule for several cellular processes such as growth and production of epithelial cells, cellular growth and immunology-related functions.

While, retinoic acid creams are helpful in resolving the problem of stretch marks, you shouldn’t be using it without consulting your doctor. So, during your next postpartum appointment, do discuss about the use of retinoic acid cream with your doctor.

To further validate this, a study from JAMA Dermatology finds out that the regular use of retinoic acid for a period of two months can significantly reduce the appearance of stretch marks

  1. Don’t Recoil, Use Castor Oil For Stretch Mark Removal

If you have had a habit of taking good care of your skin, then you won’t be new to the glorious features of castor oil. As it had been known to help reduce age-related spots, pimples, freckle, wrinkles and fine lines, we can tell how miraculously castor oil can work when it comes to mending the skin.

All you need to do is to buy yourself a bottle of castor oil and you need to massage it thoroughly over the skin area that is affected with stretch marks. To improve the results, you should wrap a cotton cloth around your affected skin and even make use of heating pads.

Continue with this practice every day for a month or two to get the desired results.

  1. Glycolic Acid Is An Asset For Stretch Mark Removal

Glycolic acid helps in increasing your skin’s elasticity by increasing the production of collagen protein and this very property of the compound helps in reducing post-pregnancy stretch marks as well.

Glycolic acid is a category of alpha hydroxyl acids which are organic acids carrying various cosmetics-related uses which involve their use as a core ingredient for sunscreen lotions, perfumes, nail, skin, hair and makeup products.

You can purchase glycolic acid easily, as it is available as over-the-counter product which generally ranges between the concentrations of 1% and 30%. In case, you require it in a higher concentration, you will be required to seek help from your dermatologist.

According to regulation guidelines from FDA, the use of glycolic acid is safe for regular use in form of cosmetic products up to the concentration of 10% and the brief use followed by rinsing in salons is safe up to the concentration of 30%. Use of increased concentrations of glycolic acid is association with adverse effects like skin peeling, pigmentation, irritation, swelling, and itching or blister formation.

  1. Don’t Use Lemons To Make Lemonade Only

Lemon had long been associated with various skin care benefits because of its bioactive substance-enriched properties. Particularly, lemon is a rich source of minerals and vitamins which include vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin, folate, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, zinc, panthothenic acid, copper, potassium and flavonoids.

As it is also a rich source of citric acid, it carries antiseptic properties which make it good natural product for skin care.

With all the cumulative properties, lemons help with different skin problems like eczema and acne. It is also an anti-wrinkle and anti-aging agent as its worthy contents help skin cells to replenish its growth, elasticity and health.

Vitamin C in lemons is essential for the biosynthesis of collagen which primarily helps in skin cell renewal and lessening of stretch marks. A study goes on to suggest that vitamin C improves collagen production both in quality and quantity.  Vitamin C does this by becoming a co-factor for two enzymes which are responsible for cross-linking and stabilizing the molecules of collagen protein. These enzymes namely are lysyl hydroxylase and prolysyl hydroxylase.

In addition to this, vitamin C also turns on the gene expression of collagen protein producing genes in a cascade of reactions. During the first step of collagen production, lipid peroxidation is produced which in turns produces malondialdehyde and consequently collagen synthesis is activated. Furthermore, it also stabilizes the pro-collagen messenger RNA to regulate collagen transcription process.

So, all you need to do is to take a lemon, cut it in half and start messaging it over the affected area in a circular motion. Continue the process for 10-15 minutes and rinse well, repeat this practice regularly to get effective results.

  1. Potato Chips Only! Potato Juice Is For Stretch Mark Removal

This may sound astounding but what you read is absolutely right.  As potato juice is enriches with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals like potassium; it can help you get rid of the stretch marks by repairing your skin cells and boosting cell growth.

Before you go to take your daily shower, take some slices of potato along and rub them off your belly or other areas where your stretch marks are present. Let your skin absorb this juice after you continue to rub the slice off your skin for about 15 minutes. Once you are done, you can rinse it off.

  1. Start Growing Aloe Vera In Your Garden For Stretch Mark Removal

Aloe vera is a prime ingredient in almost all of your skin care products and you would definitely be aware of the skin benefits of aloe vera if you have a habit of taking good care of your skin.

Let’s add another benefit to the list and make life easier for you. With enriched soothing and healing ability, the regular use of aloe vera gel over the affected skin area for about 15 minutes can help you get back your pre-pregnancy skin.

If you can’t get access to aloe vera plant, you shouldn’t be worrying. You can make use of commercially available aloe vera gel. The results of aloe vera use can further enhanced by adding vitamin A and E capsule extracts with aloe vera gel.

Research shows the aloe vera is a reservoir of antioxidants that helps skin cell growth by preventing the oxidation of ‘oxidizable’ cellular substrates. These antioxidant ingredients of aloe vera work in by searching for reactive oxygen species and stimulating the activity of detoxifying proteins to reduce the harm caused by reactive oxygen otherwise.

This help is reducing skin cell damage in turns complements the healing of stretch marks as they are significantly reduced by the topical use of aloe vera.

According to another study, the polysaccharides present in aloe vera gel have several properties which help in skin rejuvenation. These properties include also the ability to repair radiation damaged cells, anti-inflammatory effects, anti-microbial effects and immune-stimulatory effects, in addition to the above mentioned properties.

Another special property of aloe vera which makes is apt for use for stretch mark removal is its skin hydrating property.  Regular application of aloe vera gel on skin is found to leave hydrating effects on the outer most layer of the epidermis which is known as stratum corneum which improves the skin appearance.

  1. Vitamin Supplements Are Real For Stretch Mark Removal

Yes, turning supplements is a great idea. Topical application of products which are enriched with bioactive ingredients is great but it doesn’t substitute healthy eat but it actually complements it.

These vitamin supplements will not only help reduce stretch marks and fix the wear and tear of your skin, it will also help replenish your lost energy and cellular repair reserves.

The vitamin enriched supplements repair damaged skin and scars, promote the production of new skin cells, improve the quality and quantity of collagen production, speeds up healing process and protect skin cells damaged caused by reactive oxygen species.

However, you should be careful about the consumed amounts of these supplements. Overdosing these otherwise essential supplements can leave adverse health effects, so once you start taking vitamin supplements; consult your doctor for taking the recommended dosage.

According to the daily dietary intake recommendations of National Institute of Health (NIH), the lactating women should consume vitamins in the following optimal quantities:

  • Vitamin A dose (µg/d): age group 19-50 years, an intake upto 3,000 units.
  • Vitamin C dose (mg/d): age group 19-50 years, an intake upto 2,000 units.
  • Vitamin D dose (µg/d): age group 19-50 years, an intake upto 100 units.
  • Vitamin E dose (mg/d): age group 19-50 years, an intake upto 1,000 units.

These above mentioned tolerable upper intake level (UL) are the highest allowed daily intake levels of the vitamins which if exceeded can put you at a risk of adverse effects.

The NIH also goes on to say that the data available is not enough to suggest a precise daily intake limit for vitamin K, vitamin B 12, folate, thiamine, panthothenic acid, carotenoids, biotin. Thereby, you should definitely discuss the required dosage with your doctor to stay out of danger.

  1. Almond Oil Is Enriched With Vitamin E Which Can Help You against Stretch Mark Removal

Topical use of almond oil on the affected skin area is often associated with reduced skin scarring which in turns makes almond oil a popular pick for lessening stretch marks. Being a rich source of vitamin E, almond oil is full of wellness which will be discussed in detail as we proceed forward with our discussion and move to point 9.

A research study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing (JCN) observed the effect of topical use of bitter almond oil on reducing the incidence rate of stretch marks in pregnant women.

The study went on to compare the effectiveness of bitter almond oil with and without oil massage.

Bitter almond oil is known for its antimicrobial and anti-itching properties which make it an important component of drugs such has muscle relaxants, cough suppressants, local anesthesia etc.

On the other hand, sweet almond oil is known for its richness of vitamins, minerals, essential acids, phytosterols and proteins. These properties are the reason behind the oil’s popular as a core ingredient of cosmetics and skin care products.

But surprisingly enough, the study reached a result which contrasts with the popular belief and it looked at the usefulness of bitter almond oil for stretch mark removal, instead of observing the effects of sweet almond oil.

The women in the study were divided in three groups; one group used bitter almond oil with 15 minutes long massage on the potential stretch mark affected area, second group of participants applied the oil without massage and the third group did not make use of the bitter almond oil.

The results were statistically significant, particular for women who applied the oil on skin and massaged it regularly.  Out of the women, who applied and massaged the oil, only 20% developed stretch marks later in their pregnancy and after delivery, comparing with the stretch mark incidence rate of 38.8% in second and 41.2% in third group.

Thereby, if you are pregnant or if you have recently delivered your child, getting almond oil and thorough massage on  a daily basis can help you.

  1. Vitamin E Oil Works Well For Stretch Mark Removal

Vitamin E oils can help reduce stretch marks by nourishing the skin and improving skin’s elasticity.  Vitamin E oil has the ability to accumulate in the epidermal layer of skin and provide skin with a protective shield against moisture evaporation.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant which protects the skin from damage. This quality of vitamin E oil had made it a popular ingredient for skin care products which include skin care creams and cosmetics.

It helps in reducing the oxidative stress and the corresponding damage to skin cells, protects the skin against UV radiation induced damage and speeds up healing process of worn out cells.

The antioxidant ability of vitamin E is also linked with the alteration of glycosaminoglycans (polysaccharides in skin which regulation protein proportion and balance of elastin and collagen in skin tissues) and collagen production. Once, vitamin E oil manifests its antioxidant properties, it is consequently assuring that the collagen production in skin cells is maintained which in turn reduce the stretch marks and skin scarring.

But, this isn’t too simple. The topical use of vitamin E remains controversial and we see the world divided in opinion about the advantages of vitamin E for skin, particularly scarring.

According to a study published in the official journal of American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the use of vitamin E enriched skin ointments do not help in reducing post-operative skin scarring. While, the study doesn’t directly talk about the effect of vitamin E on lessening stretch marks, it certainly doesn’t support the usefulness of vitamin E in reducing skin scarring.

However, we hope that studies are conducted which can directly observe the influence of topical use of vitamin E on the reduction of stretch marks.

  1. Olive Oil Isn’t Only For Your Post-pregnancy Diet but for Stretch Mark Removal Too

It hydrates, it moisturizes and it nourishes your skin. Olive oil should be a part of your skin care routine for all the right reasons.

Olive oil is enriched with nature’s goodness which helps in reduction of stretch marks in a variety of ways.

Being a rich source of antioxidants, olive oil helps in promoting skin cell renewal and reducing cellular damage.  This particularly given nourishment to skin, makes it soft, removes the damaged skin cells and reduces scarring.

The presence of important substances like polyphenols, vitamin E and phytosterols are essential for increasing collagen production in skin and improving skin elasticity which in turns help in stretch mark reduction.

A study was conducted to find if the use of olive oil during pregnancy led to the prevention of stretch marks later in gestation and after pregnancy. The participants in study group received 1 cc of topical olive oil twice a day until delivery which had to be messaged over the abdominal skin area every day. On the contrary, the control group did not receive any treatment.

As a conclusion the study found that although the severity of stretch marks in the users of olive oil was lower than the control group, but the results were not statistically significant to support the use of olive oil as an effective preventive measure for stretch marks.

  1. Cocoa Butter Might Or Might Not Work For You For Stretch Mark Removal

Cocoa butter cream use is popular amongst women who try to get rid of stretch marks after their pregnancy. Regular message with a cocoa butter enriched creams or lotions have long been associated with healing of worn out skin cells as it is a vegetable fat enriched with antioxidants.

Cocoa butter lotions which particularly have addition ingredients as shea butter, vitamin E, elastin, collagen and emu oil are claimed to be more effective in reducing stretch marks.

However, studies have not proven any effective role of cocoa butter in preventing or lessening stretch marks.

A study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology observed the use of cocoa butter during pregnancy for the prevention of stretch marks. In the study, 91 women used cocoa butter beginning from first trimester and the control group included 84 women who used a placebo control.

Upon pregnancy completion, it was recorded that in women who used cocoa butter developed stretch marks in 45.1% cases and in women who used placebo butter developed stretch marks in 48.8%, which showed that there was no significant improvement in stretch marks by the use of cocoa butter.

A similar study showed that the use of cocoa butter in comparison with the use of placebo resulted in stretch mark development in 44% women and 55% respectively, which further suggests that the use of cocoa butter for stretch mark reduction is scientifically backed.

  1. Egg Whites Everyone? Yes Why Not For Stretch Mark Removal

Since our childhood, our moms had been asking us to have egg in breakfast because it is a rich source of protein. We always had the option of cutting out on the fat by not consuming the yolk and having the protein by only eating the egg whites.

Things really haven’t changed for you and no matter how uninterested you get to have an egg, egg will keep following you. But this time, you don’t have to eat it but you have to apply it on your skin.

We understand that mere sound of applying egg on your skin makes you uncomfortable, but it is how it is. So take a couple of egg whites and whip them to apply them on the affected area, let it dry and repeat this practice daily for at least 2 weeks to witness the magic.

According to a study published in Nutrients, eggs are a rich source of high quality proteins which promote protein synthesis in the human system. On an average, one large sized egg contains 6.3 grams of proteins which are enriched with essential amino acids. In addition to this, egg whites are a rich source of bioactive proteins which are immunoprotective and antimicrobial in nature.

  1. A Good Moisturizer Can Help You Too

Skin care generally is not complete without the use of a good moisturizer. While these moisturizers help the skin they hydrated and nourished, it also increases the skin’s elasticity and consequently improves the appearance of skin.=

This increase in skin elasticity carries a potential to help reduce newly formed stretch marks so start your routine before it is too late.

  1. Laser Treatment For Stretch Mark Removal Is An Option If Every Other Thing Fails  

Laser treatments can help you get rid of stretch marks more quickly than using any of the above mentioned method. Although, laser treatment for stretch mark removal can cost you a lot more than making use of home remedies, it can solve your problem in the best possible way if you are being too impatient or if the use of previously mentioned methods had not given you any satisfactory results.

The procedure is carried out by an experienced dermatologist where a beam of light through laser equipment is directly to the affected area of the skin. This beam of light works by removing the layers of skin that surround your stretch marks; and during this procedure no cuts and burnings are made in the skin.

The procedure particularly makes use of high-energy UV (ultra violet) light which weakens the chemicals bonds at the molecular level in the skin tissues. This weakening of bonds further leads to the process of ablation which is marked by the disintegration of skin tissues at the affected site.

This tissue integration assures that the affected skin region is replaced by new skin layer which happens speedily during the recovery period.

Soon after, undergoing this treatment, you may experience redness or tenderness in the skin but this shouldn’t scare you as it is a normal post-laser procedure skin appearance. This particularly means that the old and damaged skin is being removed and a new layer of skin cells are growing to remove stretch marks.

According to a study published in the Annals of Dermatology, the currently present laser treatments include 308 nm excimer laser, flash-pumped 585 nm pulse dye laser, radiofrequency device, intense pulsed light, 1,064 nm Nd:YAG laser, 1,450 nm diode laser, ablative fractional CO2  resurfacing and non-ablative fractional photothermolysis.

But the most popularly used treatment options these days are ablative fractional CO2 and non-ablative fractional photothermolysis which assure most efficient stretch mark removal.

Ablative fractional laser procedures generally are named so, because the laser beam is directed at the skin in such a way that the epidermis which is the outer skin layer is destroyed and the underlying layer of skin, dermis is heated up. The heating process causes increased production of collagen proteins which can heal stretch marks. As the procedure is ablative in nature, the doctor would use local anesthesia to numb the affected skin area and in some procedures, sedation may also be opted for depending on the severity of the employed feature.

On the contrary, the non-ablative laser procedures make use of focused, fractionated laser beams which direct heat to only the affected areas to improve results and lead to quick recovery. The procedure doesn’t cause harm to the epidermis layer and the heat directed to the skin cells help in collagen production which causes tightening of skin and removal of scars.

  1. Micro-Needling Isn’t As Bad As You Think For Stretch Mark removal

This is a non-surgical cosmetic procedure which helps the skin to rejuvenate. During this procedure, the affected area of skin is applied with a gel which helps the skin to get numb.  Following this, a hand-piece instrument is used that creates minute channels in the dermal layer of skin (skin layer beneath the outmost epidermal layer).

Now these minute channel formation in skin leads to the stimulation of production of structural proteins in the skin cells which include elastin and collagen.  The protein production helps the worn out skin cells to be replaced by new cells which heals the skin and consequently help the stretch marks to substantially reduce.

  1. Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy. Wait, What’s That? Is It For Stretch Mark Removal?

Platelet-rich plasma therapy makes use of the growth factors and healing ability of the platelets for skin rejuvenation. From our middle school biology classes; we know that platelets are blood component which helps in clotting of blood during an injury. But there certain is more to it.

Now the healing ability of platelets is being exploited by clinicians and scientists for different medical procedures. This therapy has also evolved into being a way to getting rid of stretch marks.

Using the same principle as used by micro-needling, this therapy makes minute holes through the skin and triggers healing process in the dermis layer of skin which ultimately leads to reduce stretch marks. However, this process is effective in reducing newly formed stretch marks but not older ones, as the results are better when the skin is undergoing its innate healing  process which is further complemented by platelet-rich plasma therapy.

  1. Does A Surgery Also Exist for Stretch Mark Removal?

Undergoing a surgery for getting rid of stretch marks doesn’t look like a good idea at first. Despite the fact that surgery would be the last thing one would want to go through for stretch mark removal, it surely is a procedure that guarantees a complete and permanent solution to stretch marks.

In this context, abdominoplasty better known as tummy tuck is a surgical method used.

Initially introduced to fix the loose abdominal appearance of a person after significant weight loss, this surgical procedure removes the skin tissues which contribute towards the sagging abdominal appearance.

The use of this technique helps stretch marks removal by eliminating the skin which had stretched out during pregnancy but after pregnancy it had not gone back to its pre-pregnancy position. The skin elasticity changes leading towards the formation of stretch marks and this primarily is the issue which is catered by the surgery. Cutting out the unrequired skin tissue from the abdominal surface (middle and lower abdominal area) helps the muscles in the abdomen to tighten and flatten the skin out which as a consequently remove stretch mark scars.

The procedure is an effective way for getting rid of stretch marks which are present in lower abdomen, below the naval.

However, it is worth noting that you are recommended to undergo this procedure only if you have to get rid of the loose abdominal appearance in the first place which is the primary criteria to decide if tummy tuck procedure suits your case or not.

  1. Microdermabrasion Is Yet Another Method For Stretch Mark Removal!

This treatment makes use of instruments which cause minimal abrasion to remove the uneven and rather thicker epidermal skin layer. According to the American Journal of Dermatology, this cosmetic procedure is safe and it is carried out in a doctor’s office. Often for this procedure, aluminum oxide crystals are used as the abrasive substance which is first applied to face and then vacuumed off with an instrument.

This is a popular skin rejuvenation treatment that helps in various skin scarring problems and stretch marks is one of them.

The treatment doesn’t only help in reducing stretch marks but it also stimulates collagen production in skin cells.

  1. Use Post Pregnancy Belt

This is the most primitive way to control further stretch marks. However, it will not help in reduction of stretch marks that left their marks during pregnancy.