How Thermage Can Help You Overcome Your Post Baby Body
The moment that little baby starts to grow inside of you, your body goes through many changes to accommodate the new life that is now depending on you. You may first notice this from episodes of early morning sickness, to frequent trips to the bathroom, and then to that gradually enlarging baby bump. But, one of the changes that some women are troubled by, even after pregnancy, is the one that happens to the skin.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and it is like a canvas that tells the world what is going on inside. Any changes, good or bad, that is taking place in your system shows up on your skin. Even something as simple as being shy can cause one to blush or being frightened can cause the skin to turn pale. With the significant amount of hormonal changes that happens during pregnancy, you can expect the skin to be highly vulnerable to change.
Your Skin and Pregnancy
The skin is made up of three layers which include the muscular layer, the fatty layer, and the outer layer or the skin surface. All of these layers have the capacity to stretch to accommodate the growing belly. The mechanical changes can expand the skin so much and may also leave stretch marks, or what are also called striae.
To understand the effects that physical changes have on the skin, let us take a look at how a balloon works in correlation to the skin. Once you inflate the balloon and then deflate it a few hours later, you see that it is slightly stretched than it was before you introduced air. It will no longer be as tight or as taut as it once was. The same is also true of your skin. The outer layer may be intact, but the dermal layers underneath have already been expanded beyond repair. This explains why the tummy becomes lax even months after you deliver the baby.
The skin is also subjected to hormonal changes during pregnancy. This process is responsible for the pigmentation changes and other skin issues, which are often the most visible changes in pregnancy. You will notice the nipples, inner thighs, and armpits darkening. A dark linear streak that runs from your belly button to the pubic bone, called striae gravidarum, will also appear. Some women will have a darker complexion on the face called chloasma, or “the mask of pregnancy”, as well as breakouts that expectant moms experience.
Skin Issues During and After Pregnancy – At A Glance
Let’s look into these skin problems one by one and understand better how they occur, to give you an idea of how they can be treated.
This is one of the most dreaded skin problems that women face during and after pregnancy. Stretch marks not only form on the belly, but they can also appear on the breasts, arms, hips, thighs and buttocks. It may appear red or purple during pregnancy, affecting 90% of women during the third trimester.
The causative factors for stretch marks include the actual stretching of the skin, as well as hormones. The effects of hormones like estrogen and relaxin change the elastic fibers of the skin, which results in these linear bands.
However, there is no evidence which proves that stretch marks can be prevented. Creams and other emollients that contain certain active ingredients sold for this purpose are not just useless, but they can also pose a certain risk for the pregnancy. Most of the time, these stretch marks turn into a pale silvery lining that lightens gradually. But for some who want to lighten these marks further, topical treatments that contain vitamin A derivatives and use modern devices are available to do the job.
Due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, it is often impossible for women not to develop pigmentation problems. The level of skin discoloration may be more pronounced in some, while others simply have it in hidden areas like the nape, groin or the armpit. Aesthetically, it is chloasma that bothers a lot of women the most. It affects 70% of pregnant women, and it can even develop in those taking contraceptive pills.
Most of the time, this problem resolved itself after pregnancy. But, there are some women who end up with severe cases. The common treatments doctors provide are topical ointments that contain a vitamin A derivative, hydroquinone, and corticosteroids.
Medically, spider veins are known as Telangiectasia, and these are very small dilated blood vessels that form near the skin surface, which is why these are easily visible. These form because of the circulatory changes that occur during pregnancy. It develops on the face, specifically around the nose, on the cheeks, and chin. These often appear after delivery, and it is more apparent in Caucasians than in black women.
Spider veins are not dangerous; therefore, there is no need to treat them. Any form of treatment is often done for cosmetic purposes.
Hormonal shifts are the primary cause of acne during pregnancy. But, the situation can be aggravated further if the woman has a history of breakouts before she was pregnant. It is important to be very careful in treating acne during pregnancy because the medications that will be used may pose a risk for birth defects in the unborn child.
Acne spots can also be a problem, given the hormonal changes that are also taking place. Therefore, it is important that the woman apply some skin protection, such as a broad-spectrum sunscreen. This prevents those areas that have been affected by acne from darkening.
Skin dryness can be felt by a lot of women during and after pregnancy. Again, this is due to hormonal changes that also affect oil production in the skin. This causes it to be dry, and may be aggravated further, if an expectant mom fails to moisturize. Itchiness can be an annoying symptom but it can lead to bigger problems, especially if it is scratched. Doing this can lead to stretch marks later on because the skin is damaged by the mechanical action.
This is one of the common problems women deal with after pregnancy. For some, the skin may revert close to its pre-pregnancy shape, while others may have to deal with severe sagging. The collagen and elastin layers are stretched so significantly that it may take time before total healing can be achieved. Sometimes healing is achieved with the help of surgical treatments. For those with minimal sagging, a less invasive procedure will be enough.
Now let’s take a closer look at Thermage, and understand why it can be a good treatment for some post-pregnancy woes, and why it may not be applicable to others.
Thermage is a non-invasive way to treat aged or sagging skin with the use of radiofrequency (RF) energy. Its action reaches the deeper portion of the skin to act on the collagen layers with a volumetric and uniform heating effect. This can stimulate a process that promotes skin tightening with immediate collagen contraction, which is then followed by its gradual tightening.
Thermage earned a reputation for being rather uncomfortable because the energy delivered creates a stinging action that is compared by patients to be like a hot rubber band snapped on their skin. CPT stands for Comfort Pulse Technology, and it is designed by manufacturers to promote comfort during the procedure.
Thermage CPT breaks down the RF energy into a series of micro pulses, instead of one continuous unbroken pulse. It is also delivered with accompanying vibrations to reduce the heating sensation. This allows the doctor to pass over the tissues up to 12 times, compared to the 5 passes that was tolerable using the previous device. This stimulates a more profound effect on the skin and its layers.
Thermage CPT also has a Thermacool system, which provides the skin with a cooling sensation after the RF energy is delivered.
Thermage and Pregnancy-related skin issues
So many women are asking about how Thermage can help them with their post-pregnancy skin problems like skin sagging, hyperpigmentation, and cellulite.
Thermage is among the trusted treatments that helps achieve beautiful skin. It improves mild skin laxity and the appearance of cellulite. It does not remove it, but repeated treatments can help its appearance to become less visible.
The body tightening action of Thermage continues even up to 6 months after the treatment. But the effect is milder, therefore it is only appropriate for individuals who have minimal skin sagging. For those with much excess skin after pregnancy, or those who have had multiple pregnancies already, a surgical option would create the desired results.
Thermage is a well-received treatment today, especially with the improvements in the device. But, it still has some limitations. There is no evidence that it can correct hyperpigmentation problems like chloasma. But, it can reduce acne and softens the appearance of acne scars.
About Dr Tyng Tan
Dr. Tan Tyng Yuan, MBBS completed her graduate and medical education in the United Kingdom over a span of 10 years.