Can Massage Prevent Stretch Marks? (What Experts Say)
We are all aware of the many alternatives we can use to treat our skin but can massage prevent stretch marks?
While we are used to seeing unblemished, airbrushed skin on glossy magazine covers, in reality, no one can claim a perfect canvas.
From acne blemishes, scars, and stretch marks, none of us are perfect. We all have our perfectly normal imperfections, and stretch marks are one of the most common.
If you are like many, your skin might display the striped marks across parts of your body. They can appear anywhere, but mostly commonly crop up across:
- Upper arms
- Lower back
Men or women can both have them, and they can appear for a host of reasons:
- Sudden weight loss or gain
While they are entirely harmless and extremely common, that does not mean you necessarily love the way they look.
An entire industry of creams, potions, chemical peels, and even surgery have sprung up to banish the marks.
They are a dime a dozen on drugstore shelves, but we bet you probably have not considered massage as a remedy. When done right though, it can be one of the most effective ones.
If you are ready to banish or prevent their appearance in the first place, read up more to see if massage is an option you should consider.
What Are Stretch Marks?
So many of us have them, yet you may have never stopped to ask what stretch marks actually are.
In a nutshell, stretch marks are just what they sound like – marks that form in the dermis layer of the skin, the middle layer, that leave a visual trace of where skin has been stretched from its original tautness.
They can often spring up very suddenly, such as a result of pregnancy, when skin is constantly expanding to accommodate the growing baby.
As skin thins and expands, it breaks down the dermis layer and leaves the telltale marks.
They can range in color from a darker hue, sometimes appearing red or purple when they initially form, to a less obvious grey or white over time. As the skin calms down, the stretch marks will fade, and often become glossy, much like a scar.
While they can certainly be frustrating, stretch marks are extremely common.
WebMD reports that around half to 75% of pregnant women will develop some marks over the course of their pregnancy.
Other sources report that as many as 90% of women will experience some degree of stretch marks during their life (while men get them as well, they’re generally more common in women) (Medical News Today).
Your odds go up if other women if your family developed them while pregnant, or if you’re carrying twins or a large baby, which will understandably stretch the skin more.
What Can You Do?
While there is certainly nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to sporting a swatch of stretch marks, and many choose to leave them alone, if their appearance bothers you, there are a variety of ways to try to make them fade.
The effectiveness of methods like lotions, dermabrasion, or laser surgery depends widely on the person in question.
For some, these can be an answer. For others, they can be a costly experiment that yields less than satisfying progress.
How well these methods work will depend on factors like age, how sun damaged your skin is, and other variables.
While nothing can truly guarantee to banish them entirely, one method that can provide some relief is massage.
The Power of Massage
Massage has long been heralded for its range of far-reaching benefits.
It has the ability to realign and relax the body, ease aches and pain from injuries, lessen headaches, emotionally restore you, and more. But can massage prevent stretch marks?
The short answer is that it can certainly play a part in your anti-stretch mark routine.
The basic premise of massage is simple, and explains why it help us to feel better in a variety of ways.
Getting a massage stimulates the circulatory system throughout the body. This means more blood is sent pumping through the veins, and in turn, tissue growth is promoted.
This means the body is better able to regenerate skin, and your skin will be kept stronger, firmer, and able to heal from any blemish faster.
How Massage Prevents And Reduces Stretch Marks
To help prevent stretch marks from appearing, or reduce their severity once they do begin to pop up on the skin, you will want to massage the marked area gently.
Most experts note that using an oil or some type of moisturizer is also key. Firmly but gently massage the area until the oil has disappeared into the skin (The Health Site).
- Remember, you will not need to use much pressure, just enough to encourage circulation.
- If you are pregnant, aim to make massage a regular part of your routine starting no later than your second trimester.
- Focus on each quadrant of your abdominal area separately.
- Work your way around each quadrant for about fifteen minutes every day in order to discourage them from forming.
How Effective Is Massage In Preventing Stretch Marks?
While creams and topical treatments have long-since graced shelves of drugstores everywhere, promising to reduce or fix stretch marks, their claims are dubious.
Dermatologists have openly doubted false claims of miracle products for years.
When it comes to stretch marks, like most cosmetic woes or blemishes, there is never a true one-stop magic fix.
The issue with creams and lotions you spread on top of your skin is that stretch marks appears beneath the surface, in the dermis layer of skin.
So can massage prevent stretch marks any differently?
- Some studies have found that massage is better able to penetrate layers of skin and thus deliver actual results.
- Massaging your strips with bitter almond oil can no doubt help lessen them.
- While massage might not be the magic bullet that knocks them out entirely, most dermatologists and experts do agree that massages pack a powerful punch in terms of preventing them in the first place.
For maximum effectiveness of a routine involving massage, prevent stretch marks by also adopting overall healthy habits (surprise, surprise, diet, regular exercise, and hydration all matter here).
Dos and Don’ts
An important point to keep in mind anytime you get a professional massage, whether for any other health reason, or a massage to prevent stretch marks, is to make sure you’re getting cared for by a quality expert.
If you choose to get professional massages, make sure you are getting your services from an experienced pro who will know how to specifically do massages geared at stretch marks.
What you put on your skin matters too.
Doctors and experts recommend various products, so as always, do your own research and choose what works best for your skin type.
Here are a few suggestions though to get you started.
- Many experts recommend you snag a product containing hyaluronic acid.
- Retinoic acid is another powerful compound that can sometimes help reduce their appearance, since it rebuilds collagen in the skin. However, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it since it can have dangerous side effects like birth defects.
- Silicone gel is another option that researchers found to be helpful in reducing pigmentation when applies and massaged in for a period of 6 weeks.
Finally, when answering the question of can massage prevent stretch marks, technique counts.
- Resist the urge to get too vigorous with your massaging – more is not more here.
- Go easy and gentle on your skin. Since your skin is already under pressure, gentle is better.
- Dermatologist recommend more of a rubbing than pressing motion.
- Think in terms of light, gliding, continuous hand movements to invigorate blood flow and skin growth.
When done right, and as part of a larger healthy lifestyle, massage can cure not only a variety of other ailments, but smooth your skin as well.
If you are looking to lessen the marks you already have, or particularly prevent them from appearing, massage can only help, not hurt.
So relax, enjoy your massage, prevent stretch marks, and help your skin to glow with health from the inside out.
Q: Can massage prevent stretch marks?
A: Yes, massage can certainly help to moisturize, stretch and make your skin more elastic.
Q: How effective is massage in preventing stretch marks?
A: Massage is not a magic bullet to completely prevent stretch marks but dermatologists agree that it can certainly help.
Q: Are there any massage techniques which work better?
A: Dermatologists recommend more of a rubbing than pressing motion.