Many mothers experience the much celebrated “glow” of pregnancy; their faces look bright and radiant, their cheeks shine with a rosy pink hue. This is mostly true in the 50% of women who carried their babies effortlessly like they were born to do it. But for the other 50%, the pregnancy glow doesn’t ring true for them.
I spoke to Dr Michelle Lim from the SW1 Clinic, who recently gave a talk at the Supermom’s Baby Seminar 2017, and gave valuable tips and encouragement to hundreds of women in their second or third trimesters of their pregnancies, on the proven aesthetic treatments for the most common skin changes after pregnancy.
Darkening of the skin on some parts of the face occurs in approximately 50% of women. Commonly known as the “mask of pregnancy”, increased pigmentation during pregnancy does not actually do harm to you or the baby, but it can make women feel self-conscious about it. Thankfully, this is due to pregnancy hormones and usually lightens after the baby is delivered. But in some mothers, it doesn’t completely go away and can worsen with sun exposure.
If You Have It
Dr Michelle Lim recommends SW1 Clinic’s new Quattro Toning treatment, which utilizes the gold-standard picosecond laser. Unlike traditional laser toning which caused undesired side effects, the Quattro Toning treatment accurately targets and reduces melanin particles into a very fine dust, resulting in more effective clearance by your own body. The picosecond laser is faster and more adept than traditional pigment lasers; this means the Quattro Toning treatment not only more efficient at pigment clearance, it is also virtually painfree and is much safer because of the low heat emission on skin. SW1’s BB Aquatouch Thulium Laser is also adept at getting rid of superficial pigmentation and even gives the skin a baby smooth texture.
If you see a pregnant woman with acne, be more emphatic because not only may this lady never have suffered from acne until she got pregnant, the normal and usually effective acne treatments may now be out of bounds for her because of risks to the pregnancy.
Pregnancy acne is usually caused by increased androgens in the body resulting in overproduction of oily sebum, resulting in clogged pores and inflammation. Infected cystic acne can be disfiguring and even potentially cause permanent scarring.
If You Have It
Avoid the usual over-the-counter treatments if you are unsure, as some topical acne preparations contain Retin-A which is unsafe for the baby, even if they are only for topical use. Mild and home chemical peels containing glycolic acid and lactic acid are usually safe, but avoid high-strength salicylic acid preparations which may be harmful to your baby. The usual oral antibiotics that are used for skin breakouts are also not usually prescribed for pregnant mothers and Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) must be avoided at all costs.
Dr Michelle Lim, who recollected her acne woes with me during her pregnancy just 7 months ago, recommends our pregnant readers with acne visit a skin doctor who is experienced in treating skin breakouts in pregnant mothers. She recommends something such as the Clarity Program at the SW1 Clinic, which swaps out the usual sonic cleansing for aquadermabrasion cleansing, and incorporates medical-grade LED blue light, I-Clear for its antibacterial properties which are both very safe and effective for pregnancy breakouts.
Stretch marks look like big cat scratches on the skin, which can range from an angry red to a crazy purple or fade to a sad silvery colour. Stretch marks usually occur when there is rapid weight gain. During pregnancy, the amount of glucocorticoid hormones in the body also dips, resulting in a drop in collagen production in the skin. At the same time, the skin stretches within a short time to accommodate the weight gain as well as the growing baby, resulting in micro-tears on the surface of the skin. Stretch marks may occur suddenly during the late second or during the third trimesters, when weight gain and growth of the baby is the most rapid. Beginning with red, they usually change to a purple and then fade to a silvery white or grey. Most stretch marks never really go away.
If You Have It
While there is no real evidence arguing for the use of stretch marks prevention creams, it is probably better than doing nothing! But if you already have stretch marks, then proven treatments that will reduce the appearance of stretch marks is what you will need.
Dr Michelle Lim recommends a two-prong strategy to get rid of these. Firstly, a pulse dye laser such as VBeam Perfecta which is specific for targeting redness of the skin should be used to reduce the colour of stretch marks. Then the skin structure should be strengthened with a fractional resurfacing laser such as Fraxel which will repair the skin micro-tears over time.
On the list of minor annoyances, small flesh-coloured skin growths may also be seen on pregnant women. They typically creep up on the poor mommies-to-be in areas prone to friction, such as the neck folds, under the breasts, bra line, underarms and groin. Thankfully these are harmless, and usually disappear after the pregnancy.
If You Have It
For those who continue to experience the horror of these postpartum, they can be easily removed by a procedure called electrocautery. It is actually a very simple procedure where a current is passed through a resistant metal wire electrode This handheld probe is then applied to the skin tag, generating heat and destroying it.
SW1 Clinic is located at 290 Orchard Road, Paragon, #13-01, Singapore 238859. It is helmed by Dr Low Chai Ling and Dr Kenneth Lee, who also founded The Sloane Clinic in 2003. Their team of doctors who were also formerly from The Sloane Clinic include Dr Chua Han Boon, Dr Toby Hui, Dr Michelle Lim and plastic surgeon Dr Tan Ying Chien.