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The Stretch Mark Survival Guide

Words: Sarina Zoe

For an expectant mother, a blossoming bump can be a beautiful experience, but it’s also a time many women become concerned about stretch marks. In the quest for smooth, supple skin during and after pregnancy, we discover the luxurious body elixirs you’ll want to literally bathe in. Since genetic and hormonal factors mean some women are predisposed to stretch marks, we have also delved into the latest reduction technology that’s helping new mothers feel comfortable in their post-baby skin.

What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are scar tissue caused by the 'tearing' of the dermis. During pregnancy, genetics and/or hormones can impair the production of collagen and elastin. “Collagen is the main support structure of skin, and elastin provides the skin's 'bounce-back' properties, so stretch marks can occur when skin lacks strength and stretchability," explains Sydney dermatologist Dr Michelle Hunt. Dr Hunt is a Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists and states that although genetics and hormones can play a role in the occurrence of stretch marks, the exact mechanism of their development is unknown. And when it comes to assessing your likelihood of developing them, 'like mother, like daughter' is not always an indicator.

During pregnancy
While it may not be possible to predict the development of stretch marks, many mothers attribute their blemish-free bodies to regularly massaging oil into the skin during pregnancy. Author, beauty journalist and new mum Zoe Foster Blake recommends targeting tummy, boobs, thighs and bottom from about 10 weeks to help support collagen and elastin. Foster Blake’s own skincare line Go-To features Exceptionoil, the multi-purpose concoction she applied throughout her pregnancy. It smells of coconuts and gardenias and hydrates even the driest skin, winning a firm place in our body elixir edit.


Weleda Stretch Mark Oil is another great option. Sweet almond oil provides essential fatty acids to keep skin strong and supple, while organic arnica flower extract helps relieve dryness and itchiness. After massage, the subtle sweet scent and easily absorbed formula leave a warm and comforting sensation.


Also try Mecca Cosmetica Luxury Body Oil. The citrus scented oil melts into the skin. A CO2 extraction method maintains the purity of sandalwood nut oil, rich in vitamins A, B and E. With avocado, jojoba and rosehip oils, this elixir nourishes and protects the skin and even targets stretch marks.


Extract from the delicate flower of the robust blackthorn tree is perfect alchemy for protecting the skin and supporting elasticity during pregnancy. Dr Hauschka’s body oil combines the soft musky scent of the blackthorn blossom with a silky lightweight formula.


Stretch marks post-pregnancy
After birth or breastfeeding, when skin is no longer taut, stretch marks can become more noticeable. They can be harder to treat than other scar tissue, yet Laser Clinics Australia offer the latest in stretch mark reduction with Max RF, the treatment that combines radio frequency and dermal stamping to encourage the skin to repair itself. Rochelle Collis owns the Laser Clinics Australia practice in Bondi and is a former trainer of cosmetic physicians. “Radio frequency is thermal injury and dermal stamping is dermal injury. Through micro injury we create a healing process and stimulate collagen formation," she says. In contrast to laser treatment for stretch marks, Collis says Max RF has minimal downtime, is suitable for all skin types and complexions, and poses no risk of hyper pigmentation. “Our best result to date is a client who had abdominal stretch marks which appeared during her first pregnancy. She was a former model and had lost confidence with her body post pregnancy. Within two treatments she felt the colour tone had blended and the skin was firmer.” The treatment is most effective on reddish/purple stretch marks, yet collagen can even be kick-started for older, silver/white marks on the skin. When collagen is formed in these areas, the dermis begins to strengthen and heal, stretch marks become less noticeable and body confidence can be restored.