You have gone through nine months of incubating a mini-human in your tummy. Now that you have delivered, things will go back to normal right? Unfortunately, that may not always be the case for new moms. After nine months of skin stretching, weight gain and hormonal surges, your skin may not always bounce back to its original pristine state.
But all is not lost. With early intervention and careful treatment, some skin changes can be reversed while others can be improved. So what should soon-to-be mamas expect? Below, common skin changes to keep an eye out…
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After the glow… pigment is real
Pregnancy causes increased blood volume and the skin swells causing the famous ‘pregnancy glow’ — some notice a little healthy ‘flush’ as well. Enjoy the look while it lasts. In the second and third trimester, pigmentation may start to surface.
About 70 percent of women experience melasma, a patchy darkening of the face that happens during pregnancy (buh bye, glow). “Oestrogen stimulates an increase in pigment production leading to darker freckles, worsening brown patches on the face, and even darker moles,” explains Dr Low Chai Ling from SW1 Clinic. This is also why you might notice darkening around your nipples or a dark stripe on your abdomen called linea nigra.
Mummy fix: For a start, protect your skin with a good SPF that is at least 30 and broad spectrum. Topical vitamin C might also subtly brighten you up. If you are no longer breastfeeding, look for stronger topicals containing mequinol and retinoids which can help to lighten pigmentation. According to Dr Low, latest lasers such as Pico Pigment laser can also help break up excess pigmentation and restore your complexion.
Stretch marks aren’t fully in your control.
Stretch marks are really, really common — about 75 percent of pregnant women experience them. There’s clearly a genetic component, though doctors like Dr Low Chai Ling says that age (younger women are more vulnerable) and rapid weight loss or gain can also enhance their occurrence. Since stretch marks have to do with … well … stretching skin, they’re more common on your stomach. “They usually start red and inflamed and progress to white, thin line marks that look and behave like a stretched scar,” says Dr Low.
Topical vitamin E may might help fade them a little but usually the improvement is very insignificant according to new mothers; glycolic acid is slightly better though don’t expect mind-blowing improvements. “Topicals can only do so much as stretch marks are due to tears in the dermis, allowing deeper layers of skin to show through” explains Dr Low.
Mummy Fix: A more targeted solution according to doctors is the use of lasers to repair the damage. Doctors say that early treatment is key. When your stretch marks are still red, a pulsed dye laser by Vbeam may help. This is also the time when you can still expect good improvements and recovery of your skin. After some time, stretch marks look like silvery white streaks. At this stage, it is more difficult to treat, though not impossible. Dr Low recommends a Fraxel Dual laser to help renew and resurface the damaged skin. While you cannot completely erase these marks, you can certainly improve their appearance.
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Skin tags galore
Notice little projections of skin start to crop up under your breasts, on your neck, under your arms, or in your groin area? You’ve likely found a skin tag. They form when you have areas of skin rubbing up against each other (something that’s naturally going to happen more when you gain weight). Hormones likely play a role in their growth, too, according to Dr Low, seeing as how sometimes they pop up in areas that don’t rub. “Some ladies are just genetically inclined toward the pesky tags”, she says. “Most of the time, they’re harmless.”
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Mummy fix: But harmless as they are, a crop of skin tags aren’t going to add to your overall allure. Creams aren’t going to help as well. Tempting as it may be to snip those off y yourself, doctors warn against self-manipulation of skin tags. Electrocautery is a safe and effective procedure that uses a current to remove excess skin tags. Its quick and fairly comfortable. According to Dr Low, a batch of skin tags can be treated in one session fairly easily.
Acne once again
You may think your teenage years are over but while acne isn’t a given after pregnancy, some women do experience a fresh bout of pimples as hormones fluctuate. “Everyone reacts to hormones differently,” says Dr Low who added that she herself experienced a stubborn outbreak after the birth of her son. That means while some women notice that acne acts up when they’re preggers; others notice clearer skin. But if you see some zits along your jawline, that’s likely due to an increase in oil production — a result of hormonal changes.
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Mummy fix: Check with your doc before self-treating with an acne medication, topical, or wash. Some — like isotretinoin (formerly known as Accutane) and retinoids — aren’t safe during pregnancy. If you are no longer pregnant or breast feeding, do speak to your doctor about the oral options listed above as well as treatments. Vbeam laser which is coincidentally used to treat red stretch marks have been found to be effective against acne and excess oil production. As can light therapies such as LED Red (promotes healing) and I-Clear (anti-bacterial). Creams containing retinoids, salicylic acid and sulfur may also be useful. When it comes to acne, Dr Low stresses the importance of combination therapy for better outcomes.
“Pregnancy is supposed to be such a beautiful time in your life” says Dr Low “but many of my patients are instead so plagued by the skin issues they experienced that they fail to fully enjoy their time as a new mother.” With better solutions to these new mother skin woes, Dr Low feels that education is key to a better pregnancy and post-delivery recovery.
“Information is power” says Dr Low.
For more information on pregnancy changes and their beauty solutions, join Dr Low and a panel of top medical experts at Mummy to Yummy workshop on 4th August 2018. Register before July 20 with promo code EARLY20 for a 10% early bird discount.