Dr. Nedic, in “Longevity” magazine, explains high-tech treatments for post pregnancy re-shaping….
Reclaim your body
Your guide to loving your post-baby body.
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. Your body changes, adapts and adjusts to make way for that life growing inside you. However, post-pregnancy is often another story altogether. You are left with stretch marks, slack skin, flabby tummy and saggy breasts, not to mention the pigmentation and hormonal changes that have affected your skin. There is no doubt that a healthy eating plan, and lots of water and exercise can go a long way towards helping you get your body back. However, a little added expert advice may not go amiss.
Problem: Droopy boobs
During pregnancy your breasts double in weight and size to prepare them for the production of milk. “They then expand further after delivery due to engorgement with milk,” says Dr Pamela Berens, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Texas Medical School.
Your breasts are kept in place by ligaments in your chest wall that loosen during this process. After childbirth, the glands in the breasts shrink and return to normal, but the skin and ligaments that were stretched during pregnancy may not regain their former proportions. Loose ligaments and extra skin can cause the breasts to droop, sag and appear smaller.
Losing that baby weight post-pregnancy is one of the first things you will want to do. But, according to Berens, if you lose this weight too quickly, and are breastfeeding, your bust size may decrease. By losing the weight in a slower, more controlled way, your breast size will not be as affected.
The same holds true for the size and shape of your stomach. Generally, reverting to your pre-pregnancy weight should reduce the excess fat around the abdomen after childbirth. However, sometimes losing weight fails to do the trick because the skin and ligaments in the abdomen, like in the breasts, have been stretched.
On the upside:
You could wear the appropriate supportive bras when breastfeeding and during pregnancy, which will reduce the strain on breast tissue. “Firm and perky breasts do not appear to be what Mother Nature planned for us after childbirth,” says Dr Nanette Santoro, director of reproductive endocrinology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. However, there are a few exercises that can help lift and tighten. The transverse abdominal muscles – the deepest lying abdominal muscles that act as a girdle to your middle section – are the muscles you need to target if you want a flatter stomach. Regular crunches don’t affect these muscles – you will need to do a fitness programme that targets your core, like pilates. Other exercises that target these muscles are scissor kicks and pelvic tilts. As for your chest muscles, strength training that includes not only your chest but also your back and shoulders, will give you better lift and posture. Include at least two exercises per muscle group for the best results.
Problem: Lines and stretch marks
Called your “badges of birth”, stretch marks – or striae – are a form of scarring on the skin. They may start off a bruised purple-red, but these fade with time to fine silvery lines. They occur when the dermis (the middle layer of your skin) is stretched to a point where its elasticity begins to break down. At this point, microscopic bleeding occurs, along with tissue inflammation, which gives the raised reddish-purple appearance. Over time they can diminish, but will never disappear completely.
Meghan Less, Mama Mio product educator, explains that between 75% and 90% of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy, usually during the third trimester when there is a higher level of stretching. The higher levels of weight gain during pregnancy (considered to be around 15kg) contribute to the higher risk of stretch marks. These commonly appear on the abdomen, breasts, thighs and back.
On the upside:
“Stretch marks are the toughest thing to get rid of,” says Santoro. But there is hope. Some studies have shown that applying 0,1% of Retin-A may help diminish reddish-purple stretch marks by as much as 80% after about six months. Laser therapy may also help fade old stretch marks by plumping up the skin in the depressed areas. Caesarean-section scars are normally caused by skin changes that occur during the healing process. These, too, will never completely go away, but will fade over the years. Laser therapy, which triggers the body to create new skin, as well as the use of steroid creams, may improve the appearance of scars, says Berens.
Problem: Spots and patches
During pregnancy, your hormone levels rise, which may result in pigmentation changes in your skin – the appearance of dark patches on the face and neck (also known as melasma or chloasma), and “linea nigra”, the dark stripe that runs down your belly to the pubic area. If you suffer from acne, you may find your complexion clears up completely. However, some women may start to experience a red rash or breakouts around their mouth and chin. You may even have extremely dry skin.
On the upside:
These splotches and lines will eventually resolve as the hormones settle down. Discolouration in a deeper layer of the skin often takes a long time to completely disappear, and a good sunscreen with both UVA and UVB will help prevent or minimise these pigment changes. However, avoiding sun exposure is highly recommended. According to the American Melanoma Foundation, dermatologists recommend using a year-round sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Treatment options include topical skin lightening with prescription medications such as hydroquinone, retinoic acid or azelaic acid. These will need to be applied regularly over several months to be effective. Laser skin resurfacing or peels for melasma are also options.
non invasive high-Technology treatments
Dr Sly Nedic, medical practitioner and owner of 8th Sense, has an holistic way of approaching sagging skin and excess fat stores after pregnancy. Nedic recommends VelaShape for circumferential reduction, as it has FDA approval for post-pregnancy use. She says the sooner you start, the better the results will be. The waiting period is usually one month after natural birth, and three months after a caesarean.VelaShape has a unique technology that combines radio frequency and infrared light to decrease fat-cell swelling. The vacuum system opens blood vessels, and increases circulation and lymphatic drainage. In addition, the massage system helps get rid of trapped extra-cellular fluids and toxins. The system is designed to target all problems involved in fat formation during pregnancy.
Gradual improvement can be seen following the fourth treatment, but full results in circumference reduction will be most apparent six to eight weeks afer the final treatment session. Treatments are done once a week for six weeks. In clinical trials, the average range of circumferential reduction was 2cm to 7cm. For flabbiness, sagging skin and stretch marks, Nedic recommends Thermage Monopolar RF, as this helps lift sagging tummy skin in a single session. There are no contra-indications, even if you want more children. It is the only treatment that rebuilds deep subcutaneous collagen, which is severely stretched during pregnancy. “In addition, mesotherapy is used to diminish stretch marks, and this should be done on fresh stretch marks in order to achieve maximum benefit,” says Nedic. All treatments are done holistically using supplements, vitamins and nutrition to restore your body’s pre-pregnancy state as quickly as possible, and in accordance with the latest science-based medicine protocols. For more information visit www.8thsense.co.za or call 011 884 6418
Even celebs can’t escape the post-baby body. Some turn to conventional weight-loss products, others adjust their diet or exercise regime. We share some of their top tips with you:
Supermodel, businesswoman and mom Christy Turlington started her regime even before she gave birth. She did yoga three times a week and pilates once a week during both of her pregnancies. She also walked and went for regular prenatal massages.Turlington had her mindset right and knew that the shift in her body during pregnancy, and life in general, was inevitable. She had realistic expectations and felt that this was a small price to pay for being a mother. Turlington’s vegetarian diet is strictly adhered to and she eats healthy, balanced meals. She generally eats low amounts of saturated fats, while increasing her intake of fibre-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
• Yummy mummies Jennifer Garner and Gwen Stefani rely on running to burn calories and tone their lower bodies.
• Heidi Klum walked down the runway in a thong just two months after having her second child. She credits breastfeeding and her trainer David Kirsch. He recommends a diet of healthy protein and avoiding unhealthy carbohydrates and alcohol. To keep her metabolism high, she eats small, healthy meals every three hours, and avoids eating after 7:00pm.
• Bronwyn Nielsen, local CNBC anchor, shares her tips on how she lost her pregnancy weight. It’s not surprising that the first thing she says is that you should avoid gaining too much weight to start with. While you should eat healthily, with your baby in mind, there is no need to go overboard with the quantities of food you consume. Exercise before, during and after your pregnancy, recommends Nielsen. Exercise is the key to a healthy, happy pregnancy – don’t underestimate the power of endorphins – it is certainly the secret to getting back into shape quickly. She also drinks a lot of water during the day and feels that it helps her with her weight loss. But her most important tip is to not panic – she understands that it will take time to get her body back to normal. However, she makes a concerted effort to look after her body.