When I was nine years old, I watched my mother’s pregnancy with awe – and a little “eew.” Pulling down that sexy pouch they used to sell (Mom had to sew it into her regular jeans), she happily showed me the evidence of my growing brother.
Unwittingly, she showed me more than that.
“What are THOSE?” I asked with all the tact of a fourth-grader, pointing at the reddish-purple wiggly lines at her waist.
“Those are stretch marks,” she answered. “Trust me, some day you’ll be proud to wear them as well.”
Oh no I won’t, I thought, but Mom was right in her prediction – with my own pregnancy I lost the genetic lotto, inherited my mother’s non-elastic skin and wound up marked in places I didn’t even know could stretch.
And no. I’m not happy to have them. Happy to have my son? Over the moon. Glad for a road map of the nation’s major highways from my upper waist to the tops of my thighs? Not so much.
“Isn’t There Anything I Can Do?”
Yep. That was my very first question, after they pried my newborn baby boy from my hands (I gave “rooming in” a new meaning) and I had five minutes all alone to actually get a view of…well, of all that.
You all know me well enough by now to know that I’m a researcher. And I can never let anything go. Ever. So I went on a stretch mark information hunt.
Apparently, stretch marks fade on their own over time…at least a bit. But six to twelve months after the fact, what you have is what you have; they’re not getting any lighter, sorry. At least not on their own.
My Stretch Mark Tips
Fortunately, I DID discover a few tips to help fade stretch marks. Yay!
NOTE: My stretch marks are NOT completely gone using the following. I really need you to realize that. You SHOULD be proud of your stretch marks – my mom (and probably yours, too) was right. But if you’re looking for perfection, well, that doesn’t happen in life. Looking for “a little less noticeable and in some cases, gone” instead? Try the following.
- Use a VERY moisturizing body lotion daily. When you hyper-moisturize your skin, it “plumps out” and sort of fills in the stretch marks, if you have the kind that are actual wrinkles in the skin. (I do.)
- Drink plenty of water. Same principle as above, but from the inside out. Yes, this really works.
- Use Retinol/Retin-A. This is one of the only proven ingredients so far to actually reduce wrinkles and fade dark areas. A Retinol cream doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive; shop around.
- Try an at-home acid peel. Be VERY careful if this is part of your anti-stretch mark plan. Glycolic acid is the most common type of at-home peel. Leave it on for the minimum time on the directions and never do more than on peel within any seven-day period.
- Forget about cocoa butter and vitamin E, at least for removing stretch marks. They’re absolutely wonderful for the skin, and I recommend them just for softness, but these tend to only work before the fact, lubricating the skin while it’s stretching.
- If you’re really desperate, consider professional dermabrasion. This is the one tip here that I didn’t try myself, but I’ve heard great things about it. (I was just too chicken.) Find a REPUTABLE dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Dermabrasion removes several layers of skin to re-plane/smooth it.
- Use aloe vera. Your best bet is to use aloe while your body is still in “repair mode,” so start early – as soon as you notice stretch marks. Aloe has known skin healing properties and has even been used on burn victims.
Good luck! You know and I know that all the stretch marks in the world are worth it when we look at our sweet babies (well, okay, my own “baby” is four now, but you get the idea). But moms are human, too. And we want to be pretty. Plain and simple. And remember: the person you neglect the most after you become a parent is yourself. Take the time to baby yourself…just a little. You’re worth it, Mom.