The Pregnant Pause

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Falling pregnant, and carrying a new life inside you is possibly the greatest miracle your body will ever experience, and with it comes the greatest responsibility.  Pregnancy is a minefield of Do’s and Don’ts that changes everything you thought you knew about your body and how you need to treat it.  Not only does it require awareness of what you are putting into your body in the form of food and medication, but you should also be extra aware of what you are putting onto your body, and whether it could affect your baby in any way.  We’ve put together a short list of things you may need to push “pause” on during your pregnancy.

The obvious first point we need to address is whether aesthetic procedures are safe in pregnancy.  The unfortunate answer is no.  Just plain no.  Botox® and fillers have not been tested in pregnancy.  They never will be, and until they have been it’s impossible to say whether or not they are safe and so we err on the side of caution and go with no.  This is no cause for alarm if you had a treatment without knowing you were pregnant, or if you got pregnant with Botox or fillers on board – anecdotally there have been no cases of harm to a fetus due to Botox or fillers, and even in studies done on pregnant mice there was no harm to the fetus with doses as high as 4units/kg (which is a LOT more than you would ever use cosmetically).  This still does not mean these treatments are proven safe though, and if you do find someone willing to inject you while pregnant you should probably check their credentials.

The good news is that during pregnancy you naturally retain more water than usual, softening many of the fine lines you were trying to eradicate with Botox or fillers.  Even more good news is that without your Botox on board you will soon learn how powerful a frown can be when communicating with your partner!  As much as we think the frown is redundant in the 21st century, we think pregnancy may be the one time you actually need to be able to frown!

Microneedling treatments (like Dermapen, Dermaroller or mesotherapy) are also not recommended in pregnancy.  The reason for this is a combination of minor concerns, for example the microneedling causes micro injuries to stimulate collagen synthesis, which may divert essential vitamins and nutrients away from your baby and towards your skin.  There is also the concern of infection (this risk so minute that it hardly deserves a mention).

Essentially no invasive (no matter how minimally invasive) treatment is really worth the risk.

The next step is to look at your skincare regimen and stop using any products that may pose a risk to your baby.  Topical treatments pose a very small threat to a fetus, however it is important to note that many things we put on our skin do eventually make their way into our blood streams in small amounts.  For this reason retinoids (Vitamin A containing creams) and salicylic acid treatments are best avoided during pregnancy.  Although these are absolutely contraindicated in oral (pill) form during pregnancy, the consensus amongst doctors is that while there is very little risk of harming your baby by using topical creams, it’s still best to avoid these products.  You should check all of your acne busting lotions and potions, as well as any night creams you may have for these ingredients:

  • Differin (adapelene)
  • Retin-A, Renova (tretinoin)
  • Retinoic acid
  • Retinol
  • Retinyl linoleate
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Tazorac and avage (Tazarotene)
  • Tretinoin
  • Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)

And if you see them rather wait until after your baby is born to consider starting them again.  (Don’t panic if you have been using these products without knowing they are not recommended during pregnancy; just stop using them until you’ve cleared their safety with your doctor!)

The problem with this is that many people will reach for acne treatments during their pregnancy, especially during the first trimester when a surge of progesterone causes your oil glands to become over active, leaving your skin oily and prone to breakouts.  The good news is that acne during pregnancy is temporary, and will clear when your hormones settle down.  If you are struggling to get your skin under control even with a good skincare routine, try applying topical antibiotic ointment like Bactroban directly onto the breakout, and if all else fails, you have a great excuse to go for more regular professional facials to deep cleanse your pores!

Now that we’ve given you a list of what to avoid during your pregnancy, here are a few things you should reach for to keep your skin looking great during your pregnancy and after!

Firstly you obviously should make sure that you are eating a balanced diet full of vitamins and nutrients that will make your baby the strongest and brainiest and best that he or she can be!  This means plenty of fresh vegetables, less sugar and processed foods and more water.  Your blood volume increases substantially during pregnancy to deliver all the nutrients your baby needs, and water is the most important ingredient in bulking up your blood volume.  The extra hydration you get from fitting in a bit more water each day will keep your skin looking plump and fabulous, and all those vitamins from your diet (especially zinc and vitamin C) will make your skin glow!

Secondly, hydration from the inside is fabulous, but hydration from the outside is extra important too.  Your skin is stretching to accommodate your baby’s needs, and you need to help it to do so without damaging it by making sure it is as supple as it can be.  This means moisturizing as often as possible, and moisturizing all the areas that are growing, focussing particularly on stretch-mark prone areas like your belly, breasts, hips and thighs.  A moisturizer that contains elastin, like Dermastine, is marginally better than your usual moisturizers, but anything will do!  This will help to prevent the formation of stretch marks and will also combat the dry skin that is so often part of pregnancy.

Thirdly, using a daily SPF is so important in everyday life, and is even more important during pregnancy.  Hormonal changes make pigmentation problems like melasma appear, or darken if you are already a sufferer.  Anybody who has this condition will know how difficult it is to get rid of, and so preventing it from occurring in the first place is of utmost importance.  Practicing safe sun habits is really one of the only ways to prevent this from occurring, and so although you do not need to lock yourself in a dark cave for the duration of your pregnancy, you should be protecting your skin from the sun at all times.  This means using SPF on exposed skin daily, even in winter (face, décolleté, and hands at the very least), wearing a hat, and avoiding the sun between 10h00 and 15h00 if possible.  If you really need a tan to help you feel less whale-like during your pregnancy there are plenty of organic and pregnancy-safe self tanning lotions and sprays out there to help you feel more like a goddess!

This post barely touches on all the changes your body and skin will undergo during your pregnancy, but these few points are a good place to start when it comes to skincare!  For more information or to make an appointment please call (021) 6833048 extension 1, or send us an email on info@capeaesthetics.co.za.

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