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Reshaping after Baby

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A better you as you transition into motherhood….

The baby’s well being is the primary goal once a woman finds she is pregnant. But a healthy mother results in a healthy child. A woman on the mommy-track does not have to give up regular skin care and exercise; she may just need to shift its focus. 

When a woman gets pregnant, besides the obvious change in girth, she also experiences changes in her skin. Some women tend to develop melasma “the mask of pregnancy” which is a characteristic darkening of regions of her face. Also more spider veins can develop and a woman can find herself growing hair where she hasn’t seen hair before. 

Some skin care products are obvious no-no’s during pregnancy- like Retin- A , Botox, and hydroquinone.  Also to be avoided are some chemical sunblocks containing avobenzone, also known as Parson 1789, which are absorbed by the body.  So what can you do to deal with melasma? The best tool is prevention. Sunlight is a trigger for melasma, so use physical sunblocks, like hats and mechanical sunblocks like titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide (the same things are in baby bottom ointments). Do not forget about the benefits of a topical Vitamin C. It can provide protection against UV induced erythema  and cellular damage that results in the redness and hyperpigmentation (melasma) that occurs in pregnancy. Daily application of topical Vitamin-C and a broadspectrum sublock alone offers ultimate protection from UV light and associtated skin damage. For at risk moms the use of natural alternatives to hydroquinone (bleaching cream) can be of benefit in the prevention of hyperpigmentation. Ingredients such as Arbutin glycoside and kojic acid can inhibit tyrosinase, and enzyme that contributes to the formation of melanin in the skin thus leading to melasma.  There are also natural professional products available to the moms or moms-to-be when acne or melasma has already developed. There are lightening agents made with emblica, and eatable fruit, that is safe for use even in pregnancy.  For those that have develop those irritating acne bumps, a low dose (10% or less) azelaic acid has been shown effective in reducing the number of inflamed pustules and pimples. Sugar srubs are a great natural way to exfoliate the skin and make you more vibrant . Just like you put careful thought into what you consume into your bodies make sure you put that same thoughtfulness into what you apply to your skin during pregnancy. Cleansing, Mechanical treatments and masks…….There are natural skin care products which can help even out tones without risk to your child.

Spider veins that appear from the pressure on the legs during pregnancy can be treated effectively once the baby is born.  There are a couple of treatments for spider veins but injections have proven to be more effective. Making sure you have leg support during pregnancy can help reduce the number of spider veins that appear.

 Once the baby has finally arrives, Light – based treatments in conjunction with lightening creams are an effective way to treat melasma. A series of treatments can permanently reduce the number of hair follicles that develop from hormonal changes. Exercise is also an important part of a pregnancy. Again you should focus on those exercises which emphasize stretching and mobility and be careful to protect your back.

Reshaping after Baby…

So now that we have covered the do’s and don’t of skin care during pregnancy – what about once baby arrives? In general it is best to wait 3-6 months after pregnancy before deciding to proceed with any major elective surgery. This allows your body to reacclimate and for you to loose baby fat, otherwise you may have a surgery to fix something that would have fixed itself. Some ladies have contour issues which bothered them before pregnancy and that pregnancy has only aggravated. These can include large breasts, saggy breasts, stretched out tummy skin and muscles. You should complete breast feeding for 6 weeks prior to any breast surgery. Remember also that your new infant is not going to understand that you are too sore to snuggle after a major breast or tummy surgery. It is common especially after several pregnancies for a woman to feel that she no longer looks like herself, her breasts have deflated and she now has a “belly roast” that didn’t exist before. Other ladies are able to eliminate those residual areas of baby fat, but have been left with tummy skin that looks like a runny pair of stretched out stockings. For all of these situations, surgery is a reasonable and maybe the only way to restore your pre baby appearance or to match your top contour into your bottom contour. 

So what surgeries are the most frequent? Many women find that an augmentation happily restores volume lost after pregnancy and breast feeding. Augmentation may also provide an opportunity to provide a little lift. In situations when babies and gravity have really caused a case of the “saggy, draggies”, breast lift along with augmentation can provide a lovely solution. So as not to neglect your lower half, let’s talk about what can be done for that post baby tummy.  Help can come in the form of lipocontouring, lipocontouring and a mini tummy tuck or in some cases a full tummy tuck. Remember liposuction should not be used as a weight loss tool, but rather for those fatty areas resistant to sensible eating and exercise habits. Many of us have those areas that we can trace back to our grandmother! ☺ Some people have asked about “lipodisslove” or mesotherapy which is perported to be the removing of fatty deposits through injections. The American Society of Plastic Surgery has written a position paper which expresses concerns that the medicines which are used to “dissolve” the fat are not regulated by the FDA, therefore the purity of the ingredients is unknown as is the exact mechanism of action behind this technique. Until these areas are further studied, lipocontouring offers the most safe, reliable, and controllable technique for reshaping problem fatty areas. It remains a powerful tool for reshaping with a limited recovery time because of its minimal incisions. 

 Some ladies have only some lower tummy fullness and skin excess. This is nicely treated with a combination of lipocontouring and a lower tummy tuck, which allows for maximum result with a limited incision. Finally for those ladies whose pregnancies have resulted in the “hanging belly roast”, the full traditional tummy tuck offers the opportunity to address excesses both above and below the belly button and to recapture the pre baby appearance. The recovery time is longer than the more limited surgeries, but new methods of pain management allow for a quicker return ( 2-3 weeks)  to usual daily activities. 

Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life and of course the gift of a child is a special blessing that only the Lord can give. Regaining your pre baby shape will take some time and for some ladies, surgery may be a reasonable option to assist in that goal. Remember that a healthy mother means a health baby and child, so eat sensibly, exercise regularly, count your blessings daily and listen to your mother’s advice. When all else fails, call your plastic surgeon – they may not be able to help right away, but they are good listeners! ☺

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