How a Celebrity Dermatologist Avoids Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
Dendy Engelmann, MD is the go-to dermatologist for skin health for the stars. So when she had her own pregnancy, women clamored to know—how did you avoid those dreaded stretch marks? Here are her secrets.
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Healthy mom, healthy baby
Courtesy Dr. Dendy Engelman
During pregnancy, moms focus so much on the arrival of their “bundle of joy” that they may neglect themselves. There are many permanent body changes and beauty surprises that happen during pregnancy—and mom may not be prepared. You can take steps along the way to ease the transition and help get your body back to its pre-birth state. Part of this process is taking steps to avoid stretch marks during pregnancy. “My pregnant patients are always asking me, ‘How can I prevent stretch marks?’ in the same breath as ‘What are the safest face products to use during pregnancy?’” says Dendy Engelman, MD, an NYC-based celebrity dermatologist. When she was pregnant with her second baby, she said she was just as concerned about what she was putting on her body as her patients were. We can all learn from her “healthy mom, healthy baby” regimen.
Avoid products deemed unsafe during pregnancy
When it comes to your beauty routine, steer clear of vitamin A derivatives, warns Dr. Engelman. These include retinol and retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and skin lighteners like hydroquinone. Be cautious of oral acne and Lyme disease treatments, too. So, keep an eye on things like Accutane, tetracyclines, doxycycline and minocycline, and chemical sunscreens. The American Academy of Dermatology outlines even more specifics about what acne treatments are potentially safe or unsafe during pregnancy. For example, they note that while certain antibiotics for acne seem safe, some women have given birth to a child with birth defects when taking them. To be sure, ask your doctor and learn more about the ways to prevent birth defects before and during pregnancy. “My clients are usually knowledgeable enough that they stop retinoids as soon as they get the positive pregnancy test, but we forget about some toxic ingredients found in everyday beauty products,” Dr. Engelman says. “Nail polish, deodorant, acne creams, and skincare can have ingredients that could potentially be harmful to an unborn baby.”
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Treat any stretch marks immediately
A topical treatment can help when genetics start to get in the way in the later trimesters. It’s best to start treatment right away. Do this with a silicone gel formulation designed to prevent and heal stretch marks. “Serica Skin Care offers a gel treatment formulated with a proprietary blend of silicone, sodium hyaluronate, essential fatty acids, and Amazonian Pracaxi oil,” Dr. Engelman explains. “It has been proven successful in nourishing the skin, promoting even skin tone and thus, aiding the skin to recover from the growth of our bodies.” Serica is available over the counter. Apply it to affected areas twice daily for at least 12 weeks. However, if you’d rather try other options, consider these stretch mark remedies you can make at home.
Get some support during pregnancy
Comfortable, supportive clothing can go a long way toward avoiding stretch marks in pregnancy. Dr. Engelman wore Spanx during her pregnancy to provide “extra support for the bump.” She adds that the high-waisted styles are fine to wear up until delivery. In fact, she did this while pregnant with her son Gadsden, who was almost 8 pounds and healthy. “The pregnancy tights are developed to provide abdominal support without restricting growth or blood flow,” she says. “Just make sure they are the correct size and comfortable. I live in mine currently. Honestly, I feel better in them than out of them.” If you’re considering this, you’ll want to know more about the best shapewear for every kind of dress. And since she’s busy with patients all day, Dr. Engleman says shapewear helped her avoid lower back pain and supported her abdominal skin as her baby grew.
Consider support for after pregnancy
One of the most common myths about delivery by C-section is that those mothers require the same recovery time as women who had vaginal births. In reality, they need at least an additional two weeks. Post-surgery corsets can aid in a faster childbirth recovery. This is especially the case with a Caesarian section, which Dr. Engelman had. “I wore a corset by Bellefit that helped support the abdominal muscles and skin that were cut during the Caesarian section,” she says. “I started wearing it three days after surgery for about 4-6 weeks. It minimized post-op pain and had me back to life much more quickly than my patients, friends, and colleagues.”
- Dendy Engelman, MD, celebrity dermatologist, Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, Manhattan, NY.
- American Academy of Dermatology: “Is any acne treatment safe to use during pregnancy?”
- The Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. “Management of stretch marks (with a focus on striae rubrae).”