During pregnancy, the skin of a woman’s abdomen (as well as her legs, arms, breasts, hips, etc.) stretches substantially, often to the point of creating internal tears that create visible marks. These marks are socially considered “unattractive,” sometimes making a pregnant belly seem more like a frustration than a joy. But the stretched skin also results in redness and swelling, sometimes accompanied by pain. If you suffer from stretch mark pain, you are most likely to find permanent relief by fading the marks themselves.
Many creams on the market claim to prevent or even reverse stretch marks, but the truth is that these claims are flimsy at best. Anti-stretch mark creams often contain natural ingredients that have been linked to skin health and healing, like vitamin E and shea or cocoa butter, but there is no real scientific evidence that these ingredients can heal or even fade stretch marks. They do help keep the skin hydrated, though, which can help alleviate some pain and even play a minor role in preventing stretch marks by enhancing skin elasticity.
Making home remedies allows you to take your skin into your own hands, but be warned that these often carry the same caveats as store bought creams. If you’re seeking pain relief over stretch mark resolution, you may find relief in ingredients like aloe vera and menthol. Aloe vera has antioxidants and fatty acids that strengthen the tissues within skin as well as provide hydration. Menthol is found in muscle soreness treatments like IcyHot and works well for providing temporary pain relief. Gentle massage with a hydrating lotion can improve circulation in the area and thereby also provide relief.
Silicone gel patches are used to treat various types of scarring, and offer a nonsurgical option to alleviate stretch marks. Many people like them because unlike messy or greasy lotions, they can be applied once and left on all day. Medical-grade patches like Biodermis silicone gel sheets are reusable, waterproof, and long lasting. The patches are claimed to work on all stretch marks regardless of the age or extent of damage, although the extent of the healing will vary from person to person. It is not yet clear whether they are safe for pregnant women to use.
This is one of the most expensive options to reduce stretch marks, costing up to $1,000. However, there is a 95% success rate for clients and the treatment is generally safe. The laser pinpoints the marks where they formed in the first place: under the skin’s surface. It targets damaged areas and stimulates the body’s natural healing response to resolve them. However, laser stretch mark treatments are minimally invasive and can show as much as a 50% improvement after 6 months.
If you suffer from stretch mark-related pain, you are most likely to find relief with temporary treatments like aloe vera and massage. Avoid itching or picking at existing stretch marks, as these can aggravate the pain and even help extend the marks. But take comfort in knowing that your stretch mark pain won’t last forever.