Pregnancy can be a very exciting and nervous time for women. The body undergoes a number of major physical and emotional changes during pregnancy including hormonal fluctuations, changes in sleep patterns, nausea and the inevitable weight gain. Some changes such as the ‘pregnancy glow’ may be very welcome however other symptoms such as morning sickness, nausea, acne, pigmentation and even increased hair growth are some of the challenges that women face when having a baby.
Skin changes during pregnancy
Stretch marks: can develop even if you are not pregnant however during pregnancy your chances for developing them are much higher. Typically the breasts and abdomen grow at a rapid rate and the skin stretches, causing a breakdown and disruption with the collagen in the skin resulting in the dreaded stretch marks. Popular to contrary belief, there is unfortunately no real way of preventing these as some women will simply have more of a genetic predisposition to develop them than others. There are various creams and lotions on the market aimed at preventing stretch marks however none have been scientifically proven or have any real research behind them.
Stretch marks may become less noticeable after delivery, however if they are still a concern, Skin Needling treatments can offer effective treatment of stretch marks. Topical products may allow the area feel smoother, however as they cannot penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin, they will not be effective at removing them.
Linea Nigra: is a phenomenon that develops during pregnancy and is the appearance of a fine ‘line’ on the outer abdomen. During pregnancy the melanocyte cells that produce pigment become much more active/reactive. This increase in pigment production in the skin is what is responsible for the dark line on the belly. Usually this line fades once you have your baby.
Skin Tags: Often located on the neck, breasts or armpits, these skin tags are more commonly caused by rapid hormonal fluctuations. These skin tags are small, soft, flesh coloured growths however unlike some other changes during pregnancy, these do not go away on their own. Please consult your doctor for removal.
Chloasma: (Mask of pregnancy) Some women develop discolouration/pigmentation of the facial skin, and this is referred to ask the mask of pregnancy. These marks usually appear on the forehead, temples & middle of the face.
Glowing Skin: Ladies, it’s not all bad! During pregnancy there is a dramatic increase in blood flow, specifically to the peripherals and this increase in blood flow also comes with a slight increase in oil production by the sebaceous glands in the skin. This increased blood flow and natural oil in the skin gives you that “pregnancy glow” that is often sought after.
Acne: Some women develop acne during pregnancy however some women may find that it actually improves. This is really a coin toss and the reason for this is that hormonal fluctuations within the body can affect us to different degrees. For further information on how we can help, please visit our acne page.
Nails: During pregnancy, protein synthesis (the process of creating new proteins in the body) is heavily up regulated and as a result, some women find that their nails (which are made of protein) are stronger and grow faster during pregnancy. As with acne, it really depends on the individual as many pregnant women report that their nails become brittle or soft during pregnancy.
Other symptoms that are common during pregnancy:
Spider veins, puffiness, rashes and itchiness are also very common during pregnancy.
Rapid fluctuations in hormones are responsible for these physical changes. The main pregnancy hormones responsible for these changes are estrogen and progesterone. Women can produce more estrogen during one pregnancy then throughout an entire life while not pregnant. The changes in the levels of these two hormones as well as others key hormones can affect mood as well. Other hormones that are responsible for physical and emotional changes are:
Prolactin – Responsible for milk production
Relaxin – Responsible for relaxing the uterine muscle & loosening up the ligaments. This helps to prepare the body for delivering your baby.
Oxytocin– The body becomes sensitive to oxytocin towards the end of pregnancy and it is responsible for the “bonding” feeling. It also stretches the cervix & stimulates milk production.
Prostaglandins – These hormones play a role in initiating the labor process.
Pregnancy and excess hair
Some women find that their hair is the best it has ever been while they are pregnant; this is because during pregnancy you are not shedding as many hairs, making your hair feel fuller and thicker. On average women will lose approximately 100 hairs a day and these hairs fall out naturally, usually when you are bushing or shampooing your hair and these are replaced by new hair growth. Hair growth undergoes 3 cycles, anagen (the active growing phase) catagen (the resting phase) and finally telogen (the shedding phase) however during pregnancy the anagen phase is prolonged, this is due to the increase in estrogen levels. Some women also find that their hair texture changes, for example curly hair may become straighter.
Unfortunately while the hair on your head may be at it’s best, an increase in hair growth on the body, on areas such as the face, chest, back, stomach and breasts is very common and all of this is due to the erratic hormonal changes. Even if you have had laser hair removal treatments prior to becoming pregnant you may experience an increase in hair growth however this will be new hair growth that has been stimulated as a result of changes in hormones and not the hairs that were destroyed. Usually this increase in hair returns to normal after delivery and once all of the hormones have balanced and returned to pre-pregnancy levels.
With the safety of the mum to be and baby being of the utmost importance, a common question asked by our female clients is if laser hair removal is a safe treatment during pregnancy. At Victorian Cosmetic Dermal Clinics we advise our clients against laser hair removal treatments during pregnancy. The lasers we use are the industry standard for hair removal worldwide and although there is no scientific proof that laser hair removal has a negative effect on a fetes, on a similar note there is no evidence to support is it entirely safe. We are able to treat clients that are trying to conceive but ask that you inform us as soon as you find out you are pregnant. If excess hair grow is bothering you during your pregnancy, temporary solutions during this time can be an option. Once you have had the baby, laser hair removal treatments can be commenced. For clients that choose to breastfeed we also advise waiting 6 months from the time you stop breastfeeding to resume laser treatments. This allows your hormones to return to normal.
Not all women will experience drastic changes and no two pregnancies are ever the same. Waiting until after delivery gives your body time to return to normal and any skin and hair concerns that you have at that point can be addressed with peace of mind.
Policy for Use of Candela Lasers and Pregnancy
Patients: “Any patient planning to undergo laser treatment should consult with their OB-GYN practitioner for guidance prior to the procedure. An evaluation of the risk-benefit ratio of deferring the procedure will be determined by the physician.”