While you’re pregnant, it is quite common to develop pigmentation issues especially on the face. These issues are often brought about by the hormonal changes that are happening in a woman’s body during pregnancy. One prevalent skin pigmentation issue that affects nearly 40% to 70% of all pregnant women in the world is melasma.
Melasma usually develops on the face, and can manifest as brown, tan or blue-gray patches on the forehead, the cheeks, the upper lip or the nose bridge. It can also appear in other parts of the body but is most common in the aforementioned regions. Also called the “mask of pregnancy”, melasma’s exact causes are unknown, but many experts including us at One Face Skin & Aesthetics Clinic agree that the change in hormonal balance is a significant factor.
Other issues that can show up during pregnancy are:
- redness on the hands and soles of the feet
- darkening of freckles
- darkening of moles
- darkening of areolas
- darkening of the skin under the arms and below the thighs
Studies also show that women with darker complexions are more prone to these skin pigmentation issues compared to fair-skinned women.
Laser Treatments for Skin Pigmentation Issues
When it comes to treating skin pigmentation issues, like freckles, moles and others, we usually suggest two popular options – an excision surgery or laser treatment. Basically, you have an option of getting a surgical procedure (which removes the issue immediately but comes with longer recovery time and the added risk of complications), or a noninvasive procedure (which is safer and has nearly no downtime but will take multiple sessions).
In our experience, a lot of our patients prefer to undergo laser for pigmentation issues instead of the surgery option. This is so because a lot of them are working professionals, and they’d rather get multiple, quick laser treatment sessions instead of missing time from their job for recovery after surgery. Many of them are also cautious of going under the knife and would rather avoid the associated risks.
In general, laser treatments are quite effective in dealing with many skin pigmentation issues, although it may take some time to achieve full results. Many of our patients say that their pigmentation issues disappear about 1 to 2 months after completion of the treatment. Although it may take some time for a laser treatment to have visible effects, the wait is still quite similar to patients who are recovering from an excision surgery.
Is it also safe for pregnant women to seek laser treatments while they are pregnant?
During pregnancy, a woman’s body experiences many changes, including increased hormone levels, weight gain, morning sickness and backaches. It’s a delicate period for a woman, and extra measures are done to ensure not only her safety but also her child’s.
That is why if a woman is pregnant, we do not recommend that she undergo any laser treatments. There have been many cases where a laser treatment can lead to stress, permanent color discoloration or even some more serious complications. If the issue is primarily aesthetic, I suggest women wait until about six months to a year after delivery as many of these skin pigmentation issues fade away on their own as her body returns to a normal state. If the issue doesn’t disappear on its own, then that is the time that she can get a laser for pigmentation.
Tips for Pregnant Women who are Dealing with Skin Pigmentation Issues
Surgical procedures should also be avoided during pregnancy, so women have few options left for dealing with melasma and other skin pigmentation issues. We recommend the following tips for dealing with these issues while you are still pregnant:
- Protect your skin by avoiding going out under the sun.
Another factor that contributes to the development of skin pigmentation issues is prolonged exposure to sunlight. It can also worsen these issues if you already have them, so avoid sunlight like the plague. If you have to go outside, use an umbrella or wear a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection. Also, wear sunscreen every day, even if you’re not going out. Use one that has an SPF of at least 30 to minimize the amount of harmful UV light that reaches your skin.
- Use gentle skin lightening products to reduce the appearance of skin pigmentation.
To help reduce the appearance of your melasma and other skin pigmentation issues, trying out some gentle topical creams for skin lightening that have vitamin C, kojic acid or azelaic acid can help. You should, however, always consult with your doctor before first using these products to ensure you and your child’s safety.
- Add some folic acid into your diet or as prenatal supplements.
Folic acid deficiency has been linked to skin pigmentation issues during pregnancy. Some foods rich in folic acid that you can add to your diet include green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, bread, cereals, rice, and pasta. As an alternative, you can also get folic acid as a prenatal supplement.