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Retin-A (Tretinoin)

Stretch marks, which are the telltale sign of pregnancy, usually appear on the abdomen, breasts and thighs. There are apparently more myths about stretch marks than any other affliction of pregnancy. The exact cause of stretch marks is unknown, although they are probably due to a combination of hormonal effects, genetic tendency and rapid skin expansion. Stretch marks often appear between the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy before the major growth spurt, so are not caused exclusively by foetal growth.
There is no proven method of preventing stretch marks, but avoiding excessive weight gain is helpful. Weight gain in early pregnancy is often due to food cravings, rather than foetal growth. Many women feel hungrier during pregnancy and may eat for two, even though this is unnecessary and often detrimental. During pregnancy, one only needs to consume an extra 150 to 200 calories a day for optimal foetal growth.
Pregnant women often apply baby oil and vitamin creams over their stomachs to try to avoid stretch marks. This is a fruitless exercise which does not affect the stretching skin.
Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory treatment for stretch marks. In time, stretch marks become less obvious, eventually becoming faint, white bands. Recent studies suggest that topical Retin-A used immediately after pregnancy may help to fade stretch marks but this requires further investigation. Retin-A can be used safely during pregnancy as it is not sufficiently absorbed. Plastic surgery and lasers cannot remove stretch marks.

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