What to Expect (from your skin) When You’re Expecting

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Pregnancy Skin Care Tips

Becoming a new mother means bringing a bundle of joy into the home.  For a woman’s body, it can also mean physical changes that prompt seemingly odd skin conditions that can be alarming if one does not understand the cause and solution. Dr. Rebecca Baxt is a Manhattan/New Jersey board certified Dermatologist who sees many pre and post pregnancy patients in her practice with skin ailments and problems that perhaps, never affected them.  Very often the clinical names for these conditions are much more foreboding than the reality.  Just like the famous book for moms to be, Dr. Baxt gives you a guide for “What to expect (from your skin) when you’re expecting.”

Loose Skin: Of course it would stand to reason that having a growing baby in one’s uterus can lead to loose skin even when a woman has eaten sensibly and exercised during her pregnancy.

What Can I Do? VASER Shape uses a combination of ultrasonic therapy and massage to smooth, firm and shape the body by temporarily reducing the appearance of cellulite. The procedure targets your problem areas. VASER Shape can help your body’s metabolism by increasing blood circulation in the area being treated. It can also reduce the pain and swelling that occurs after liposuction and other surgical procedures. The best part? VASER Shape is completely non-surgical and non-invasive. The key? Combined ultrasound and massage therapy that treats fatty tissue underneath the skin.

Stretch Marks:

 What is this? Stretch marks are one of the most talked about skin changes that can occur during pregnancy. Almost 90% of pregnant women will experience stretch marks. Stretch marks appear as pinkish or reddish streaks running down your abdomen and/or breasts.

What can I do?

The redness of the stretch mark can be lasered out with the VBeam laser, a pulsed dye laser that reduces redness.  Also, the Fraxel® laser treatment can help. The Fraxel laser’s energy penetrates into the dermis and stimulates fibroblasts and the production of new collagen. The new collagen thickens the skin of stretch marks to make it more closely resemble normal skin. Fraxel® laser also improves the red discoloration of new stretch marks and the silvery color of mature stretch marks. A series of laser treatments are necessary. Stretch marks in any area can be treated by Fraxel® laser.  Dr. Baxt stresses that, “in order for any laser treatment to be most  effective, the stretch marks must be treated early when they are red and purple. If the stretch marks have already turned white, neither the Fraxel nor any other method will be as effective.”

Mask of Pregnancy:

What is this? “Mask of pregnancy” is also referred to as melasma. Melasma causes dark splotchy spots to appear on your face. These spots most commonly appear on your forehead and cheeks and are a result of increased pigmentation. When you become pregnant your body produces more hormones, which causes an increase in your pigmentation. Nearly 50% of pregnant women show some signs of the “mask of pregnancy.”

What can I do?

To treat it at home, look for creams that contain kojic acid, glycolic acid, hydroquinone and retinol.  The most important part of the treatment for melisma is sunblock and a hat.  The baby shouldn’t be in the sun, and neither should you! In the doctor’s office, a chemical peel can help, but be careful about laser treatments (they’ve been associated with pigment recurrence or worsening of the mask). The Fraxel Restore Dual laser works well for melasma, because it targets surface pigment and limits inflammation; be sure the treatment is delivered by a doctor who has experience using it.

Varicose Veins:

Visible varicose leg veins are not just an aesthetic issue. They are usually the result of problems with the system that carries blood through our body. Veins are gentle, organic tunes that transfer blood from body parts back to the heart. Muscles surround our veins and when these muscles contract, blood flows through many valves that ensure one way progress. If some of these valves do not function correctly, a certain amount of blood will cycle back within the veins, overloading veins, especially in the legs due to gravity. In veins that are close to the outer layers of the skin, additional blood makes them appear larger and in vivid color.

SCLEROTHERAPY – This is a minimally invasive method to remove spider veins (telangiectasia). Even large veins can be treated with sclerotherapy, avoiding surgeries and quickening recoveries for patients. The procedure is performed with micro injections with tiny needle of a special solution that shrinks the size of the veins and over the next 3-6 months helps the body to transform the visible veins to scar tissue without causing any problems with the body’s blood circulation. Some of the feeder veins may be treated and lessen the chance of recurrence, and the procedure is almost painless. Often, a few injection sessions will be needed to remove red and blue spider veins.  Occasionally laser treatment may be effective, but sclerotherapy is still the gold standard.

Even the scalp can be affected by pregnancy.  The most common problem associated with pregnancy is called telogen effluvium   which can start 3 months after delivery and may persist for six months and can involve an extensive degree of hair loss.   “Although this problem may be quite alarming to a woman, the hair will return post partum,” says Dr. Baxt.  Some women may find a different problem during pregnancy with increased hair growth on the body or face.  Again, Dr. Baxt asserts that, “this usually dissipates after delivery, should it not; a hormonal work up by an endocrinologist is helpful.

Lastly, the hands and fingernails are not even immune from changes   exacted on the body by pregnancy.  Dr. Baxt says that, “hand dermatitis flares are common and present as itchy, cracking hands with small blisters on the sides of the fingers. This condition, along with brittle nails, is often aggravated after delivery because women are bathing their children and have their hands submerged in water frequently. Dr. Baxt recommends that post pregnancy women wear cotton gloves inside rubber gloves while doing the dishes in order to avoid excessive water exposure that aggravates these flares and brittle nails.  It is also important to moisturize with fragrance free hand lotion. If these precautions are not sufficient, Dr. Baxt recommends prescriptions creams from a board certified dermatologist which can improve these conditions.

By being aware of the beauty pitfalls that can prevail upon a woman during and after pregnancy, simple steps can be taken to prevent, and if necessary, treat minor cosmetic setbacks and allow a woman to enjoy herself and her new baby.

By Rebecca Baxt, M.D. for Healthy Moms Blog Magazine

Rebecca Baxt, MD, MBA, FAAD is a Board Certified Dermatologist specializing in both cosmetic and general dermatology for adults and children. Attending Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Baxt graduated Summa Cum Laude Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in English Literature.  She continued her studies at the University of Pennsylvania for medical school and completed an internship in Intern l Medicine. She also obtained an MBA from the Wharton School of Management in Health Care administration.  For more information about Dr. Rebecca Baxt visit cosmedical.com.

What to Expect (from your skin) When You’re Expecting
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