Pregnancy Complications - Stretch Marks
Stretch marks - they're a big worry for a lot of newly pregnant women, particularly when they first see images of them in their pregnancy magazines, books and manuals! So who gets them, what causes them and how can you get rid of stretch marks?
Stretch marks in pregnancy tend to occur because of sudden gain or lose weight but also because of pregnancy hormones. They tend to be more apparent over the abdomen and breasts although they can also appear elsewhere.
Causes of Stretch Marks
Human skin is made up of three layers, the outer layer known as the epidermis, the middle layer known as the dermis and the innermost layer known as the subcutaneous stratum. The middle layer, the dermis, contains collagen and elastin which are responsible for helping the skin retain its shape; it is in this layer that stretch marks occur. The sudden weight gain which happens in pregnancy can cause the dermis to thin, weaken and break. When this happens the skin looks dark purplish red because the skin is so stretched and thin that the small blood vessels lying below it can be seen.
Not all pregnant women get stretch mark and of those who do some get them more than others. It's thought that some people have more resilient collagen than others and this is the reason some women get stretch marks whilst others don't.
Although they can look unsightly, over time the blood vessels contract and the colour fades to take on a more silver-white appearance.
Treating Stretch Marks
Many treatments on the market claim to treat and even cure stretch marks. However, there is no firm evidence that any of them work - although many mothers-to-be do like to rub some baby oil or cocoa butter into their body just to give it a try!
Some women try laser treatments to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Another option is a tummy tuck operation although this is a fairly drastic choice and can leave obvious scarring.
If you're very worried about stretch marks have a chat with your gp about possible treatments.
More Pregnancy Complications
- Gestational Diabetes
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Placenta previa
- Cholestasis (itching during pregnancy)
- Morning sickness
- Varicose veins
- Depression (pre-natal depression)
- Childbed fever (puerperal sepsis)
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