Pregnancy can make you a monster

If you are one of the lucky ones during your pregnancy, you will be a beautiful expectant mommy.

Most people will tell you how gorgeous your skin is, how much more shiny your hair is, and that you are glowing.

However, this is not often the case. The truth is, pregnancy can bring out the monster in you, and leave you dreading to look in the mirror. Patchy skin, acne and worse, "chubabas" (chloasma), are some of the plagues that most pregnant women have experienced.

There seems to be no way of avoiding these beauty misfortunes as many products and beauty treatments on the market are not recommended for pregnant women. This sees most pregnant women enduring nine months of not feeling attractive, and counting the days until they pop so they can recognise themselves in the mirror again.

Can pregnant women dodge the beauty plagues? According to Dr Minoka Nadesan, who is a director of Aathetics at the Noviskin Dermatology and Cosmetic Centre in Waterkloof, Pretoria, women do not have to take all the flaws that come with pregnancy lying down. She has created a treatment package for expectant mothers, primarily because of the need for pampering that pregnant women require, but also because she experienced the pregnancy blues herself.

"Being a mother of two and having acne-prone skin, I didn't have that pregnancy glow that everyone talked about. In fact, I looked terrible. My skin had darkened, my veins on my legs were engorged and looked unsightly, my stretch marks were worsening weekly and I personally could not wait for my baby's delivery date to arrive.

"I was determined to find a few cosmetic treatments to give me the 'glow' that I didn't naturally have. I researched and created a treatment package for mommies called the Mommy Makeover, to address most cosmetic problems that could be resolved safely during pregnancy and during breast-feeding," she says.

Nadesan says the mistake most pregnant women make is to wait until they give birth, which could result in lifelong beauty problems.

"The misconception is that cosmetic treatments for pregnant women can only be performed post-partum and post-lactation, and this often results in poor results obtained. The general rule of thumb is that the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to get rid of, which is why I created a safe way for pregnant women to treat themselves, their skins and their bodies during pregnancy."

Nadesan took us through some of the problems that pregnant women face, and how her package can help get rid of them.

"The most common cosmetic problem during gestation is 'the mask of pregnancy', medically referred to as chloasma. The dark skin discoloration usually occurs on the face and is bilateral. It often resolves itself after a few months but in most cases resides or worsens with each pregnancy.

"Although lasers and peels work well on non-pregnant individuals, these tools are not always first-line options for moms due to the unpredictability and risk factors in pregnancy. The second-most common problem is acne. One out of two pregnant women will experience severe acne. Incidence of acne is usually during the first and second trimesters due to the production of androgen hormones. This hormone prompts the sebaceous gland to grow and secrete more sebum, which in turn blocks pores, resulting in break-outs," she says.

Nadesan says she found the solution to these problems. "I have selected a skin care range that is not only safe to use during pregnancy but will help resolve and prevent further darkening of the affected areas and acne outbreaks. The first line treatment for pigmentation would be a series of Vitamin C resurfacing applications.

"The practice also has a safe acne-clearing system that kills acne bacterium and removes blockages from the pores safely without harming the baby or exerting additional risk."

Nadesan also tackles every pregnant woman's nightmare - stretchmarks. "Unsightly stretch marks can be treated effectively with the dermapen and fraxel laser.

"The aim is to treat this early by restoring the collagen and elastin to the tissue with treatments such as skin boosters, dermapen, platelet-rich therapy and radio frequency," she says.