When and why do stretch marks appear

Stretch marks

Pregnancy | Care | complaints

Especially on the stomach, but also on the hips, thighs, upper arms and breasts, the skin is extremely stretched during pregnancy. The waist circumference can be up to one meter and more in the last few weeks! No wonder that the overstretching manifests itself in the form of stretch marks, so-called "striae distensae".

Stretching the skin is not without consequences

The stretch marks are fine tears in the muscle fibers in the subcutaneous tissue, through which the blood vessels shine through reddish-bluish. Only about six months after the birth, when the skin contracts again, the stripes become paler, scarred and are finally only visible as fine white-silvery lines. They become clearer again and again when the surrounding skin is tanned by the sun.

They occur mainly on the breasts, on the stomach, on the buttocks or on the thighs. On the breasts they tend to run in a star shape, on the stomach and thighs, on the other hand, they tend to run across.

But it is not just the stretching of the fabric that promotes the formation of stripes. Hormonal causes also contribute: During pregnancy, the hormone cortisone (glucocorticoids) is increasingly produced, which reduces the regeneration of the skin and makes it "brittle".

Which women are more likely to have stretch marks?

Whether or not a woman gets stretch marks during pregnancy varies from person to person and ultimately depends on skin type and skin elasticity. Younger women are more likely to suffer from stretch marks than older first-time pregnant women. This is because young skin has less stable collagen than older skin. And because weak connective tissue is easier to tear fair and thin-skinned women also more at risk than dark-haired ones. Women who already born a child are more likely to have stretch marks than women who are pregnant with their first child. Women who exercise during pregnancy and before that are less likely to get stretch marks than unsporting women. Anyone in Pregnancy a lot of weight is gaining or a big child or Multiples expected, also has a higher risk. Overweight pregnant womenThose who do not do sports and are negligent in their personal hygiene must expect a high probability that streaks will develop.

But you definitely have one genetically determined higher risk for stretch marks, if your mother has already developed stretch marks. Ask them about it!

Overall, however, stretch marks are much rarer today than they used to be - certainly due to better nutrition, less weight gain during pregnancy, personal hygiene and supportive measures.

Can you prevent stretch marks?

There is no safe way to prevent stretch marks. But there are some things that keep connective tissue elastic. Essentially, that's one thing Combination of exercise, proper nutrition and good skin care. Even at the beginning of pregnancy, when the belly has not yet increased in size, the skin can be prepared for the upcoming expansion.

What can be done to strengthen the skin?

  • Good nutrition: Vitamin E. (Tocopherol) is the "skin vitamin", a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals. Wheat germ oil, olive oil and rapeseed oil are among the foods with the highest vitamin E content. They are also found in abundance in grain germs, nuts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and vegetables such as black salsify, (soy) beans, kale, paprika or asparagus. For the synthesis of collagen and the strengthening of the connective tissue, the body needs above all vitamin C and the essential Amino acid lysine. Lysine is found in whole milk and other animal products such as eggs and meat, but also in rice, nuts and salmon. All fruits such as oranges, kiwis, lemons or apples are considered to be vitamin C suppliers. In addition, a lot of vitamin C can be found in sauerkraut or paprika.
  • Drink a lot: The moisture balance is regulated from within. If you drink enough fluids, your skin is generally more elastic. We recommend 1.0 to 2.0 liters of water per day.
  • Dry brushing: From the third month of pregnancy onwards, treat the relevant parts of the body, i.e. stomach and thighs, as often as you can, but at least once a day. A massage glove, a loofah sponge or a simple dry washcloth can be used for this. Body scrubs are also suitable for strengthening the skin. This promotes your own well-being, gets your metabolism going and the caresses are also good for your baby.
  • Care for: Many pregnant women complain of extremely dry, rough skin that calls for care. Applying lotion prevents the annoying itching and feeling of tension that often results from overstretching the skin. Rich lotions, shea butter, creams and a good body oil (e.g. a natural, vitamin-rich oil such as wheat germ, evening primrose, marigold, arnica, jojoba, calendula, almond oil or shea butter enriched with edelweiss extract) make the skin soft and elastic. The skin elasticity is promoted so that cracks do not appear in the first place. Special substances that have an effect on the skin, such as hyaluronic acid, can then be better absorbed. This stimulates the growth of new skin fibers and facilitates the retention of moisture. In addition, the massage that is associated with rubbing in is very useful.
  • Plucking massage: Your baby will also enjoy the loving massage of the abdomen. Oil and shea butter in particular are ideal for a plucking massage, as a less rich cream is often absorbed before the massage begins to take effect. Ingeborg Stadelmann's stretch mark oil has also proven to be very effective, as has sloe blossom body oil. When creaming the skin with oil or lotion, a small area of ​​skin is pulled up with the thumb and forefinger, "plucked", held for a second and then released again. Then use your fingertips to massage your entire stomach using light circular movements. This treatment must not be painful! However, a little reddening of the skin indicates that you are doing it right. Important: You should leave out the area around the pubic bone during the massage so as not to cause irritation. For about three weeks before the birth, you shouldn't use a plucking massage to avoid going into labor.
  • Cooling: A cooling gel, e.g. with witch hazel, is good for you in between.
  • Sun protection factor: If you are pregnant in summer, you should use a high sun protection factor when sunbathing so as not to irritate the skin too much.
  • Cold-warm alternating showers: Regular alternating showers or Kneipp pours on the buttocks, thighs, stomach and bosom also have a preventative effect. Another side effect: the circulation gets going! Begin gently with cool water. Hold the shower head over your right foot and bring it over your right leg up to your hip and up to your stomach. Same on the left leg. Then switch to warm, not hot, water. End with a cold pass. This will pull the vessels together again. Do this three times a week, alternating five times each time. When bathing and showering, make sure that the skin is not dried out too much by the warm water, use an oil bath or a moisturizing bath additive.
  • Gymnastics: Carefully stretching exercises are ideal for the spine and prevent back pain - but also stretch marks! This can be stretching, tai chi or gentle body forming. The yoga exercise "Twist", for example, is perfect: Sit on the floor and stretch your right leg forward, bend your left leg and place your foot to the right of your right knee. Turn your upper body to the left. The right elbow is on the left side of the left knee. Use it to push your left leg slightly to the right. Support your left hand behind your back. The view points to the left behind. Hold the position for a while. Then repeat the exercise on the other side.
  • Metabolism promotion: Detoxifying measures such as dead sea salt baths at a pleasant temperature or gentle saunas can also have a preventive effect. Last but not least, sport and exercise also stimulate the metabolism, such as a short walk in the fresh air. Swimming is particularly pleasant against the feeling of tension in pregnant skin. When exercising, remember to support your breasts with a well-fitting bra.
  • Lymph drainage: As a result, even during pregnancy (from the 4th month, in consultation with your gynecologist), a better removal of waste products from the body and a strengthening of the skin can be achieved.

What if the stretch marks don't go away?

Stretch marks are only a cosmetic problem, but those affected sometimes suffer very badly from them, especially when they cannot be hidden with clothing. In such a situation, the preventive creams and ointments can no longer help.

Special creams and scar ointments help that the stripes are less noticeable. State-of-the-art active ingredients such as silicon derivatives, zinc, peptides and vitamin C derivatives, as well as plant extracts from ivy, lady's mantle and milk thistle stimulate collagen production and let the streaks fade over time.

A complete removal of the stretch marks is not possible. However, the appearance can be weakened somewhat with modern methods. A specialist doctor (dermatology / aesthetic medicine / plastic surgery) will be happy to advise you on the Treatment options and the resulting costs that are usually not covered by health insurance companies:

  • Laser therapy (ultra-pulsed CO2 laser): Similar to the removal of a tattoo, tiny flashes of light are introduced into the tissue with the laser, which should lead to the formation of new, streak-free tissue. After the treatment, redness and swelling may appear on the affected areas of the skin for a few days.
  • Chemical peel (Microdermabrasion) with glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, fruit acid
  • Mesotherapy (Microinjections): Here, a roller (dermaroller) fitted with tiny needles is "rolled" over the skin. This boosts collagen production. The tiny holes in the skin also facilitate the absorption of active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin, which are supposed to be used for skin regeneration.
  • Carboxytherapy (Carbon dioxide injection) is said to improve blood circulation in the scar area
  • Cryotherapy (Cold therapy): The tissue is destroyed by cold and is supposed to renew itself
  • Local dynamic micromassage (LDM, high-frequency ultrasound): Ultrasound treatment is used to stimulate the metabolic processes in the tissue and make the tissue receptive to active substances. However, several sessions are necessary before the first successes can be seen.
  • Reflective Skintonic Depresso Therapy (Suction massage)

Basically, the younger the stretch marks, the more effective the treatment will be.

Frequently asked questions on the topic

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Then treat yourself to a warm vo ...

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Last update: 13-12-19, bra