Aside from cellulite, stretch marks are perhaps the biggest nuisance women (and men) have to face. They appear mostly on your thighs, knees, abdomen and buttocks and they are typically connected with sudden weight changes. 90% of pregnant women get stretch marks, but they also appear on the bodies of those who have gained weight rapidly and even on teenagers.
Sadly, aside from avoiding sudden weight gain, there is little you can do to prevent stretch marks – they run in the family and, just like any other genetic condition, you have to struggle very hard to prevent it from flaring up. But there are a few things that you can do to reduce their appearance:
- Moisturize regularly
If you know you are prone to stretch marks, avoid letting your skin go dry at any cost. Use a moisturizer on your freshly washed body every two days during summer and every day during winter, when the skin tends to dry up much faster. Also, if you are pregnant, moisturizing your abdomen and other key areas (see above) on a daily basis is very important.
- Use Retin-A and Glycolic Acid creams
These two substances are great for enhancing your natural production of collagen – the substance responsible for keeping your skin smooth. You can get them both in over-the-counter creams; if you need a higher dosage, you will need to check with your doctor. However, please note that Retin-A is not recommended if you are pregnant.
- Exercise regularly
Regular exercise prevents you from gaining weight fast and, even more importantly, if helps you develop muscles to replace fatty tissue. Still, be advised that the worst thing you can do is start a workout regimen and then drop out completely. You will definitely put on weight and get the dreaded stretch marks, so make sure you commit to sport.
- Cosmetic surgery
You should view this option only as a last resort if your stretch marks are in visible places and they are very prominent. The “tummy-tuck” surgery may sound friendly, but it is very painful and it requires a lot of downtime.
- Laser treatment
Laser treatment is very effective in reducing the appearance of stretch marks, especially if they are fresh. You will need more than one session for great results (typically between 4 and 6, depending on the prominence of your stretch marks). While laser treatment requires no downtime and is not painful, you cannot undergo it while pregnant or breastfeeding.