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Teenage Wasteland (of Stretch Marks)

By Amalah

Dearest Amy,

I’m pretty sure you have probably addressed the issue of stretch marks due to pregnancy, but I have a different question regarding stretch marks.

My 15-year old daughter has gained quite a bit of weight in the past year and has rather large, gaping stretch marks on the sides of her waist. They remind me of the ones I got when pregnant with my first child. My oldest is now 18 and I don’t remember anyone telling me what to do to prevent stretch marks back then so I am clueless about what to tell her to deal with the stretch marks. We all know how sensitive 15-year old girls can be, and I don’t necessarily want to draw attention to her weight gain but I also think if there’s something I can do to help her with any self-esteem issues that may come up because of them, I’d be most appreciative.

For the record, I bought both my girls the Philosophy Miracle Set for Christmas (and one for me too, although at 45, I’m not expecting miracles), based on your recommendation here, and I mentioned to her that perhaps the Hope in a Jar cream might help the stretch marks since it goes on lightly and she might not need much for coverage. She just kind of looked at me and said, uh…ok. So I suppose it’s possible that the stretch marks bother me more than they bother her. But I doubt it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
L

So. The bad news is that there’s no miracle product out there for stretch marks — either for preventing them OR erasing them. The good news is that stretch marks are VERY common in girls your daughter’s age (as they rocket into and through puberty) and her age is actually her best defense against life-long noticeable marks.

My doctor recommended rubbing my enormous pregnant belly with cocoa butter lotions and oils to keep the skin extra-super-moisturized and thus, stretch-mark free.

Yeah. That didn’t work. My skin hit its elasticity limit right at 38 weeks and suddenly my stomach erupted in stretch marks. Skin IS very elastic and moisturizing CAN help to a certain degree, but there’s always a limit to how much it can take. If you want to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy, you’re going to have to bank on good genes and a non-gigantic fetus. I had neither one of those things going for me, so…uh…awesome!
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After the damage was done, I rushed out and bought some StriVectin, the (at the time, anyway) hot supposed miracle cure for stretch marks. It is extremely expensive. And I still have each and every stretch mark I had before using it, although they have faded to the point of being practically unnoticeable.

Which is exactly what will happen to your daughter’s marks, WITHOUT the help of expensive creams or treatments. (I credit my faded marks to good old-fashioned TIME instead of some space-age collagen-in-a-bottle or even Mederma.) As her weight levels out and her body finishes developing, her skin will get down to the serious business of healing itself. 15-year-old skin is a zillion times more elastic and resilient than ours, and while the scars may look “gaping” or red or purple, they will most likely fade to a shade just a tad bit lighter than her regular complexion.

The only time she may need to worry about them (like all of us) is when out in the sun in a bathing suit. Stretch marks will never tan (although they can burn, so wear SUNSCREEEEEEEN, PEEEEEEOPLE), so they can become a lot more prominent if she wears a bikini.

But more good news here — stretch marks DO respond to sunless tanners, so if she ever wants to conceal them pre-pool or beach party, any garden-variety self-tanner will do the trick.

In the meantime, make sure she wears that sunscreen. And while you’re on the right track with suggesting a moisturizer, I don’t think there’s any need to use the expensive Philosophy face stuff. A good body moisturizer will work — Curel, Aveeno, Lubriderm, cocoa butter, whatever, as long as she uses it. (So if that means something gaggily fruity-smelling from Bath & Body Works, so be it.) Again, moisturizing won’t erase anything, but it WILL help with the overall health and elasticity of her skin, thus upping the odds that she’ll just “outgrow” her stretch marks.

Related Content:
Do Strivectin (or similar products) work for Stretch Marks? (scroll down)

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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