Pregnancy Home > Looking Your Best During Pregnancy: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Beauty Questions

Are stretch marks, varicose veins, and other pregnancy changes freaking you out? Worried that pregnancy will keep you from looking your best? Relax! In this article, we answer some of the most frequently asked beauty questions asked by pregnant women, explaining why these body changes occur, what you can do about them, and whether they will disappear after the baby is born.

Trust Us, You're Beautiful

Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman's life. Your skin is glowing, your hair is fuller, and you're about to bring a new life into the world! But with all the changes going on in your body, there are certainly times when you feel less than lovely, and maybe even downright unattractive. Don't let those not-so-glamorous days get you down. From stretch marks and acne to the best ways to remove unwanted hair, we've got answers to some of the most commonly asked pregnancy beauty questions.

How Do I Prevent Stretch Marks?

Medically, they're referred to as striae gravidarum, but most people simply know them as stretch marks. No matter what you call them, they're a common source of concern and distress for pregnant women.
As many as 50 percent to 90 percent of women will develop stretch marks during pregnancy. They're most likely to show up during the third trimester on areas of the body that expand the most during pregnancy, such as the stomach, breasts, and thighs. Stretch marks normally first appear as pink-colored lines that turn reddish or purplish as they enlarge. After pregnancy, the color gradually fades to a pale white or silver. 
Obviously, the stretching of the skin during pregnancy is one of the main causes of stretch marks. But scientists think there's more to it than that. In addition to the physical stretching, increased hormone levels during pregnancy may change the structure of the skin, making it more prone to the tearing that causes stretch marks.
It seems that some women are more likely to develop stretch marks than others. If you're one of them, you probably have your parents to thank. Studies have shown that women who report a family history of stretch marks have a higher chance of developing stretch marks themselves. However, even women who don't have a family history can get stretch marks, so there's more to the story than just genetics.
Other things that may increase the risk for stretch marks include your age (younger moms-to-be may be more likely to get them) and the amount of weight you gain.
Because stretch marks are permanent, most women want to know what they can do to prevent them. The unfortunate answer is probably not much.
There have been several scientific studies looking at whether various lotions, creams, or oils can prevent stretch marks or reduce their size, but none of these studies have had promising results. Simply put, there is no strong evidence that any of these treatments work.
That said, massaging your skin with a lotion or cream isn't going to be harmful, either. And it will help keep your skin soft and moist, which can reduce the itching that sometimes occurs with stretch marks. Keeping your skin moisturized may also improve the appearance of stretch marks, making them less noticeable.  
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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