- There is very little research on the effects of Botox on babies.
- During pregnancy, the skin may not respond well to certain rejuvenation treatments.
- There are procedures you can safely do at home to promote healthy skin.
Pregnancy comes with a natural glow, but for some, that’s not enough. Even while expecting, many women fret over fine lines and wrinkles, especially if they’re accustomed to regular Botox treatments.
As a mother-to-be, it is only natural to consider if such treatments are safe while pregnant or breastfeeding. In this article, we take a look at what science says about Botox and new moms. We also explore alternative routes to great-looking skin.
Is Botox Safe for Pregnant Women?
There have been no clinical studies on the topic, so unfortunately, a definite answer is not known. Most doctors will urge you to be cautious and suggest you avoid treatments until after you have given birth and finished nursing.
A 2006 survey of 396 physicians in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry looked at data on the effects of botulinum toxin A (Botox) on human pregnancies. It was reported that the effects of administering Botox during pregnancy were largely unknown due to the limited data. However, they did not recommend injection of pregnant women (as per product labeling) until more data could be available.
A more recent study highlighted the possibility that this powerful toxin can move beyond the injection site. This was reinforced in 2009, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a warning to Botox prescribing information “to highlight that botulinum toxin may spread from the area of injection to produce symptoms consistent with botulism,” including “unexpected loss of strength or muscle weakness.”
The Botox product monograph itself claims that the drug may cause fetal harm.
However, if you had a Botox treatment before you learned of your pregnancy, don’t panic. Very small doses are unlikely to have an effect on the baby.
» If you’d like to learn more about Botox and pregnancy, ask a doctor on our forums for more information.
Botox and Breastfeeding
All that you ingest comes out in breast milk. But does this include Botox?
Again, the answer is not known as there have been no formal studies on the subject. Medical professionals don’t know for certain if Botox can pass into breast milk.
But if you’re considering “pumping and dumping” (expressing breast milk and throwing it out) as a solution, think again. Unlike alcohol, which leaves the body in a matter of hours, Botox stays in the system for months. Pumping and dumping to ensure there is not toxin in the breast milk is not sustainable for the length of time it takes to breastfeed.
Use your best judgement: with what is known—and especially what is unknown—it may not be worth the risk.
Skin Rejuvenation Alternatives
Botox is not the only path to younger looking skin. There are a variety of alternatives, although medical professionals are mixed on whether some of these alternatives are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
General guidelines: if you are pregnant, avoid facial treatments that involve chemicals, lasers, and light therapy. If you are breastfeeding, some of these treatments may be safe. Discuss your options with a physician first.
Microdermabrasion might seem like a tempting option, but it’s not advisable for pregnant women. The practice of sanding the skin to encourage new skin growth is usually very safe. But medical professionals have concerns over whether pregnant women can really benefit, citing that pregnancy may interfere with the growth of new skin cells. What’s more, skin is highly sensitive during pregnancy and prone to breaking out. Microdermabrasion could irritate and damage the skin.
When it comes to breastfeeding, the water is a little muddier. Many medical professionals still advise women to avoid microdermabrasion, as their skin is still highly sensitive. Others suggest it could be safe as long as no acids or caustic serums are used.
Depending on whom you ask, microneedling could be fine or best avoided during pregnancy. Most medical professionals advise against it for the same reasons that they advise against microdermabrasion. Others say that it’s fine as long as it’s done with shallow needles and no serums or topical anesthetics.
Given the lack of clinical research and mixed feelings in the medical community, it might be best to save this treatment until after you give birth. Physicians are also mixed on the subject of microneedling and breastfeeding. However, there are some claims that microneedling can help with stretch marks and, it’s safer for your baby than Botox injections.
» Want to know which facial rejuvenation procedures are safe for you? Use our virtual consultation tool to discuss your options with multiple cosmetic doctors.
Why not take the natural route? Consider some the following methods for treating your skin in a safe way. These tips won’t result in the dramatic transformations that can be expected from Botox and other clinical alternatives, but they will help keep your skin looking its best at a sensitive time, with no risk to your unborn baby.
- Stay hydrated
Water hydrates your skin, which keeps it smooth and clear. Dehydrated skin overcompensates by producing more oil, making it more prone to breakouts. It’s also associated with premature aging of the skin.
- Eat well
Focus on eating skin-healthy foods that are also healthy for your baby. Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are a great place to start. These vegetables contain antioxidants that help to repair damaged skin. Other skin-healthy foods include fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
- Get enough sleep
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. A healthy sleep schedule rids you of those dark under-eye circles. It also combats fine lines and wrinkles. Consistent lack of sleep can prematurely age the skin. Of course, sleep is a precious commodity when you’re a new parent. But that’s just all the more reason to get those naps in when you can.
- Exercise regularly
Exercise improves circulation and helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin while flushing waste and toxins from the skin.
- Stick to your skincare ritual
When you are a new parent, it’s easy to let things slip, like your bedtime skincare rituals. But a clean face is a face free from bacteria, pollutants, and other substances that cause your skin to break out and look dull.
- Wear sunscreen
Sun can prematurely age skin. Too much sun leads to sunspots and wrinkles. Frequent sunburns lead to skin that appears leathery and worn. And remember, it doesn’t have to be sunny outside for this to happen: sun damage is possible even on overcast days.
Pregnancy Skin Changes
Pregnancy is a sensitive time for your skin. Your body produces more hormones, including androgen, estrogen, and progesterone. These hormonal changes can cause your skin to produce more oil, making you prone to breakouts. Pregnant women are also prone to hyperpigmentation, pregnancy rashes, and more.
Due to fluctuating hormones, this may not be a volatile time for your skin, so it’s probably not the best time to be seeking intense facial cosmetic procedures. What’s more, if you’re considering Botox to treat pregnancy-related skin concerns, you need only wait.
Much of the time, these concerns resolve themselves as your hormones return to their pre-pregnancy baseline.