Tag Archives: melasma

body after baby

Body After Baby: Treatments From Moms’ Perspectives

body after baby

My Little One-Couldn’t Help But Share!

I just had our beautiful baby girl 4 months ago- I can’t even remember what our life was like before her.  It seems like she has always been part of our family! Having said that, I definitely had some aspects of pregnancy take their toll.  One famous plastic surgeon once described pregnancy as napalm for the body but I would consider that to be a bit harsh.  I do remember being upset and anxious though during pregnancy, wondering what things would be like after having our baby.  From 7 weeks of pregnancy on, I broke out in red acne sparingly on my face but considerably on my back and chest.  I felt like a teenager all over again.  As much as you feel blessed to be pregnant and have a healthy baby, you still get down about body issues. The knowledge that I would be able to resolve some them perked me up considerably.  It’s also made recovery after birth feel hopeful if not exactly seamless.

In this month’s blog, we are going to hear first hand from medical professionals who are also moms.  They have had the odd issue relating back to having their kids and have had them treated.  Some of these moms have teenagers but have now gotten a chance to tackle some of those stubborn ‘bits’.  You certainly don’t have to have had kids to have some of these issues, either- so hopefully you can relate to some of the concerns listed below and find out how they were tackled! I’ve included links to our sister dermatology practices’ website (www.laserderm.ca) for more information.

Mom #1 (Me!) Age: 32

# of Kids and their Ages: 1 Baby Girl (4 months)

Concern Post-Baby: broken blood vessels and stretch marks on breasts and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and residual acne on face and back

Treatment/s: Pulsed dye for broken blood vessels and stretch marks on breasts after engorgement, Venus Viva  TM for improving brown/acne marks, mild acne and refining pore size with some additional pulses of the Matrix IR for active cystic acne type pimples. Lactic Acid Glow ‘Peel’ for back resolving the PIH left behind after acne flare-up during pregnancy.

What Does/Do the Treatment/s Feels Like: The pulsed dye laser feels like a mild snap with a rubber band, followed by a warm sensation. Even on sensitive areas, the treatment was tolerable enough to do without numbing cream and was incredibly quick. The Venus Viva TM on the other hand feels like tiny pricking sensations while using a topical numbing cream. Some have described the sensation as irritating and unpleasant but overall the procedure again was pretty quick and only sensitive in certain areas like the upper lip. The Lactic Acid peel felt ‘hot’ and stingy for a couple of minutes but was otherwise completely tolerable.

First Impressions Afterwards and Recovery: The pulsed dye laser immediately leaves a dark purplish mark where the broken blood vessels were treated- my husband described it as looking like you were attacked by an animal (charming). The colour gets darker over the next couple of days before gradually fading. Some residual brown marks were left in some of the treated areas and were cleared up with a little help of Emblica Light and Bright. The Venus Viva TM left my face feeling warm and looking ‘splotchy’ for lack of a better word. However by the next day, it returned to normal looking except for perhaps being a little on the dry and rough side. The spots treated with the Matrix IR were slightly red but not noticeably. The Lactic Acid did not produce any actual peeling but just some gradual exfoliation.

Any Follow-Up Treatment? The broken blood vessels were completely cleared. The pink stretch marks were slight to begin with but are barely visible now. I might potentially have them treated one more time while there remains some pink colour in them (before they turn completely white) since it can only help them to drive more heat into the scar tissue for healing purposes. The Venus Viva TM did help to fade some of the left over acne marks but also just help to improve some minor wrinkles on my forehead, which was a nice little bonus! The Venus Viva TM is intended to include 3 treatments so I will return for those later. The active cystic pimples finally went away completely, which was nice after been resistant to any other types of treatment before the Matrix IR TM. I wish I could bring the Matrix IR TM home with me to treat any new ones that might crop up with hormonal flare-ups. Finally, the Lactic Acid Peel left my back feeling very smooth but I would get another follow-up treatment to help get rid of some of the stubborn remaining marks.

Mom # 2, Age: 36

# of Kids and their Ages: 2 kids, ages 4 (girl) and 4 months (boy)

Concern post-baby: melasma with pregnancies, brown pigmentation patches appeared on upper lip and upper cheeks.

Treatment: Fraxel TM after 1st pregnancy, and Q-switched Nd-YAG laser treatment after 2nd pregnancy

Tell us what the Treatment felt like: Fraxel TM laser 1550 feels “hot and intensely scratchy” so the skin is numbed with anaesthetic cream before the procedure. This takes the “edge off” and there is slight sunburned sensation after the treatment.  The Q-switched NdYAG laser treatment for melasma is done at very low energy settings so there is no discomfort or burning sensation, therefore no need for topical anaesthetic cream.

First Impressions Afterwards/What was Recovery Like: The Fraxel TM laser creates thousands of tiny “dots” of heat channels in the skin so it is red and swollen for a couple days, followed by some “bronzing” or browning of the skin which also feels like fine sandpaper. After several days this all exfoliates off and the skin feels smooth again. Makeup can be worn in the recovery period to help camouflage the temporary redness/browning.  The Q-Switched NdYAG laser treatment does not create any lasting inflammation or heat in the skin so there is no lingering redness, swelling or heat.

Any follow-up Tx: Melasma is a condition which is triggered by a combination of hormone fluctuation and UV exposure.  Although the laser treatments have virtually cleared the melasma so it is very difficult to see any pigmentation irregularity, vigilant skincare and DAILY UV protection (zinc is best) are the most important keys to maintaining even skintone. Occasionally if the melasma patch seems to darken (with hormone or season changes), some maintenance Q-Switch NdYAG laser treatments can be done to suppress the pigment again.

Mom # 3, Age: 45

# of Kids and their Ages: 2 kids ages 14 and 16

Concern post-baby:  my stomach and flanks

Treatment: Cool Core  TM and Cool Curve TM  Zeltiq TM treatments  for body contouring

Tell Us What the Treatment Feels Like: Both treatments attach to the area and then can only be described as sucking the bulge in question with a vacuum attachment.  The area is then frozen, which feels incredibly cold but not painful.  The area is then continually kept cold for the rest of the treatment, which lasts for a total of one hour.  The CoolSmooth TM is another type of attachment that lies flat on the area (so no vacuuming the bulge) but takes 2 hours total for the treatment. The treatment is a good time to read some magazines, catch up on some TV or just take a nap.

First Impressions Afterwards/What was Recovery Like: Recovery was pretty easy. Slight tenderness for about a week post tx. Over the following 3 months I noticed a nice sculpting of my waist and diminishing of my love handles.

Any follow-up Tx: I’d like to follow up treatment Zeltiq Cool Core TM treatment to upper abs for better contouring.  But so far, quite happy- I feel great in my clothing and especially my jeans!

Mom #4, Age: 37 

# of Kids and their Ages: 2 children, 9 and 5

Concern post-baby: urinary incontinence, mostly during sneezing or exercise

Treatment: Femilift TM- 2 treatments so far, one month apart

Tell Us What the Treatment Feels Like: The treatment itself is very comfortable, didn’t really feel any pain just a slight heat like sensation by the end of the treatment.

First Impressions Afterwards/What was Recovery Like: I had some mild cramping post treatment for about 2 hours.

Any follow-up Tx: I still need to do my 3rd treatment as that is what the protocol includes. I’m planning on doing one treatment a year for maintenance as well. Fortunately, I noticed results about a week after the first treatment.  I don’t need to sneeze with my legs crossed and no more leaking during jumping jacks!



pregnancy, sunscreen

Sunscreen and Pregnancy

For those who don’t know our company backstory, CyberDERM was created by one of its founding physicians to make sunscreens that were safe enough for pregnant women to use every day. The story goes that my father, Dr. Denis Dudley, a double board certified endocrinologist and OB/GYN specializing in high-risk pregnancy was asked by a patient about sunscreens. It would have been the early nineties and his honest answer was that he did not know. Fortunately, his lovely and very talented wife (and my mother) was a dermatologist so with the help of an amazing chemist as their partner- they began the decade long process of researching skincare and specifically sunscreens and its effect on our health and well-being.

pregnancy, sunscreen

Me at 19 Weeks Pregnant

I came to the company in 2008 and started with getting our first formula into a bottle that is now known as Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25. Fast forward 7 years, and I’m now in the position of being pregnant with my first child. Our company ethos has all of a sudden become extremely personal. I know first hand what it’s like to stand in the pharmacy aisle, scouring ingredients of everything from Tums to shampoo and questioning whether it’s ok to use.

Pregnancy has the most stringent of all life stages when it comes to reconsidering everything that is part of our daily life. I’ve personally been reading the MotherRisk website like its my newfound manual to life. I appreciate how balanced and informative it is because there is a plentitude of information on the internet. I’ve learned forums are not the best source as you get a lot of anecdotal stories that’s often contradictory.

So, what’s the story with sunscreen in pregnancy? Should you be using it and what should you avoid?

I think you can guess that I’m going to say, yes, you should use it and you should be even more careful about applying it than before. Melasma is a real and very frustrating condition. Unlike what I read in some pregnancy forums, it does not just resolve always after pregnancy. Nor is it as simple as whisking away to your doctor for a light peel or laser treatment. I’ve helped first hand women suffering from melasma. Most are very self-conscious about it. Most have not found a ‘silver-bullet’ to treat it, even in our sister clinic that has 20 light based ‘lasers’, access to any peel and/or topical. It’s a process treating it- a slow and deliberate one. Most once they get it- are plagued with the prevention/treatment dance for the rest of their lives.

What to look for in Sunscreen?

Avoid oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene and non-encapsulated octinoxate and any formula that contains parabens in its non-medicinal ingredients. That’s probably not a shocking recommendation if you’ve used our products for a while. We’ve been long time critics of oxybenzone especially. I’ve based that on it being a photo-allergen and since 2012, I’ve based it on the recommendations of the WHO report on Endocrine Disruptors. The report dismisses the idea that small doses of any potential endocrine disruptor can’t have a large impact on our health. It also states that fetal exposure, as well as childhood and adolescent exposure, are critical windows that can have life long effects. In simple terms- why risk it?

In pregnancy, we use the litmus test of whether a substance is absorbed into your body and whether levels are detectable. Oxybenzone clearly does get absorbed into the body- as confirmed by the CDC study that stated it was in 97% of a random sample of 2000 Americans. Avobenzone, octocrylene and non-encapsulated octinoxate all have smaller molecular weights than 500 Daltons. 500 Daltons is the generally accepted threshold for determining whether something can get absorbed past our outermost dead layer of skin.

Encapsulating smaller molecules in materials like silica can make them much larger-well past the 500 Dalton threshold. Our encapsulated octinoxate is roughly in the 5-7 micron range, making it act like a large particle based filter. Encapsulation can be a huge innovation in the future where even two normally incompatible ingredients, like avobenzone and octinoxate, could be combined in the same formula with no risk of photo-degradation. It’s unlikely though that we will see these new technologies on masse in commercially available sunscreens as they tend to be much more expensive than their non-encapsulated versions. If you see any of the above filters (oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene)- you can most likely assume they are not encapsulated at this present moment unless they state specifically otherwise.  If you’re not sure, reach out and ask the brand.

Of course, once you remove these filters as options, you’re not left with many alternatives if you live in North America. In the future, I hope to see two European ingredients Tinosorb S and Tinosorb M get approval in North America. These are large particle based filters that offer excellent UVA/UVB protection. They’ll be a huge boon to our sunscreen market if and when they come. Due to their large particle size and excellent photo-stability, they are as controversy-free as I’ve seen of any sunscreen ingredient.

Until then, you are essentially left with zinc oxide as your main preferred ingredient. You need at least 10% of zinc oxide in your product and in pregnancy, I’d recommend to stick to higher concentrations for the added UVA protection. To me, the issue of nano versus non-nano is a bit of a red herring. It’s also well accepted that in the world of sunscreens, nano particles are huge compared to traditional low molecular weight filters. If you are still worried, repeated studies have shown that it does not go past the stratum corneum. You can look for the term non-nano on your label but since definitions of what constitutes nano vary- what might be non-nano to some could be nano to others. As proof of that, although we use the same form of zinc oxide in both formulas- it’s considered non-nano by one division in Health Canada but considered nano by another.

Zinc oxide can be combined with another filter like titanium dioxide or an encapsulated version of another non-mineral filter. Just remember- they are a bonus so to speak in terms of added protection mostly within the UVB range but the essential is to look for a high concentration of zinc oxide for truly balanced protection. Combine daily use with other sun protective habits like glasses, hats and seeking shade and you’ll be a healthy and happy mama-to-be in the sun protection department.