During pregnancy, women acquire fat deposits as nutritional reserves for breastfeeding- which prove hard to shed after the baby is born. Without concerted efforts to lose weight after the birth, a woman will typically accumulate 10 pounds of adipose tissue with each succeeding pregnancy.
The abdominal distension caused by the enlarging uterus often leads to striae or stretch marks, which are a result of collagen disruption in the skin, and which appear as purplish-red marks, mostly on the abdomen, and occasionally on the buttocks, thighs, arms or breasts.Unfortunately, the propensity to develop stretch marks is hereditary; so apart from keeping the skin well moisturised and avoiding *extreme/unhealthy weight gain, there is nothing you can do to avoid them.
(*depending on the woman’s pre-pregnancy BMI, a gain of between 15-25 lbs is considered healthy)
Over time, these marks will tend to fade to a white colour, but may be quite deep; and, because of the loss of elasticity, the abdominal skin may also be very loose.
Treatments for Loose Skin and Stretch Marks
Skin Tightening * Individual Results Will Vary
Skin tightening lasers such as Accent XL (bipolar head), with or without supplemental mesotherapy delivered via dermal rollers, will greatly improve loose skin and (improve the appearance of) stretch marks; a course of at least 8 sessions is advised, and ongoing improvements will be seen over a period of 1 year (it takes this time to remodel the extremely damaged collagen fibres).
For deep stretch marks, resurfacing laser- such as the Smartxide DOT Fractional CO2 laser is advised; 2-4 treatments at 2-month intervals will be needed, depending on the depth of the marks and tissue responsiveness- but we have achieved improvements of between 50-80% with this regimen.
Persons with dark skin, or those who do not wish to have downtime after treatments, can opt for the non-ablative resurfacing laser – Affirm Multiplex; a minimum course of 6 treatments at monthly intervals, is advised. As with the other 2 lasers, improvements will be ongoing over the next six months (ie a total remodelling time of 1 year)
Localized Fat Reduction
Lazer Room Patient: Accent XL & Mesotherapy *Individual Results Will Vary
The case featured below was a woman in her late 20s who had gained a considerable amount of weight during her pregnancy, and was considering surgical liposuction. She also had pink stretch marks.
We treated her with an initial course of 8 Accent XL (unipolar) treatments, augmenting the fat loss with 4 mesotherapy (lipodissolve) sessions. (see before & after photos below). However, she wished for more skin tightening and further fat reduction, so the second course of Accent XL (bipolar) treatments was undertaken 6 months after the first course, with the final result as below ( see front and profile views of the abdomen). This is a very dramatic result which was achieved without recourse to invasive surgery. (Incidentally, the red stretch marks were gone after the initial course of treatments; and the patient was able to wear cut-off midriff tops.)
Note: Now that we have the Liposonix HIFU device, we would suggest 1-2 treatments with this device- depending on the amount of abdominal fat- followed by Accent XL for additional skin tightening, or combined with Affirm Multiplex for stretch marks
Pink striae can be faded with IPL (for lighter skin types), or Fraxel Dual can be used in darker skin types.