Managing Stretch Marks During, After Pregnancy

Women's Health Update

After giving birth, many women are left with stretch marks on their skin as an ongoing reminder of their pregnancy.

Some stretch marks disappear on their own, but others can be more stubborn.

Stretch marks appear as lines or stripes across an area where the skin has had to stretch, according to the  National Institutes of Health’s (NIH). 

Medically, stretch marks are known as striae, according to the NIH. Most often, they are caused by weight gain or pregnancy.

They can often be found on a woman’s abdomen as it gets larger during pregnancy, according to the NIH. Other areas stretch marks commonly occur are on the breasts, hips, thighs, and butt.

Stretch marks can’t always be avoided, but the best way to try to prevent them is to keep skin well-hydrated at all times, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA). 

Eating foods rich in vitamin C, which helps protect tissue from damage, and vitamins B2 and B3, which help promote healthy skin, all are thought to help prevent stretch marks, according to the APA. 

Drinking plenty of water – at least 64 oz. each day – is also important to help strengthen skin, according to the APA.

Exercise is also thought to help prevent and improve stretch marks, according to the APA. Exercise improves circulation, which keeps skin more elastic and able to stretch with less damage.

After pregnancy, talk to your physician about options for treating stretch marks. A retinoid cream can be prescribed to help reduce stretch marks according to the NIH.

In some cases, laser treatment might be an option to treat stretch marks, according to the NIH. And in rare cases, surgery might be done.

For more information about stretch marks, talk with your doctor or find a physician.