A neurotoxin, Botox, as well as its substitutes Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau, have gained mass popularity as quick, in-office treatments that can temporarily freeze muscles in the face smoothing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. More recently Botox has been used to prevent underarm sweating, neck spasms, lazy eye, and chronic headaches. But even with more and more people finding the injections to be a solution, not just for cosmetic, but also medical needs, experts warn it’s impossible to say that there are absolutely zero risks associated with it. That’s where the question of getting botox while pregnant comes into play.
Experts In This Article
Why it’s unsafe to get botox while pregnant?
When it comes to any drug use during pregnancy, the FDA has set categories that are broken down by letter. The categories range from A, which are safe to use, to X, which are potentially fatal.
“According to the FDA, Botox falls under category C for use during pregnancy,” says Ira Savetsky, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon. “This classification indicates a lack of substantial studies demonstrating its safety during pregnancy. Therefore, Botox use during pregnancy is not recommended due to limited research on its effects on unborn babies.”
And because a person’s body changes drastically during pregnancy, including hormone fluctuations and skin changes, lip fillers and elective surgeries like facial plastic surgery are also not recommended at all during pregnancy, according to Dr. Savetsky. Continuing or starting any treatments may lead to unwanted results.
Is Botox safe if you’re trying to get pregnant?
Because the full impact of Botox on the reproductive system remains unclear, experts recommend stopping treatments as soon as you receive a positive pregnancy test.
“There is no need to stop prior to that since the Botox toxin leaves the circulatory system within a few hours after the injection,” says Amy Beckley, PhD, infertility specialist, CEO, and founder at Proov. “So getting injected the day before a positive pregnancy test poses very, very little risk to the woman’s pregnancy.”
In cases where there’s a significant chance of pregnancy before it’s detectable, such as during a late period or an IVF cycle, experts advise to postpone any Botox treatments until you can confirm you’re not pregnant.
Is Botox safe to use postpartum or while breastfeeding?
If you just can’t wait to get back in for your first Botox appointment postpartum, there may be some good news for you. If breastfeeding isn’t part of your post-birth plans, Dr. Savetsky recommends waiting until your facial swelling subsides, and then you’re clear to start injections. This is typically about a week after giving birth.
But if you are planning on breastfeeding, Botox injections should be something you discuss with your doctor.
“Botox almost always remains at the local site of injection, making breastfeeding very low risk,” says Dr. Beckley. “However there is a small chance the Botox could get into the mom’s circulation, and thus into the milk, so women can either choose not to use Botox while breastfeeding or pump and dump for several hours after the injection.”
No studies have been conducted on women who receive Botox while breastfeeding. But since the risk is not zero, most healthcare professionals suggest not using Botox until after you stop breastfeeding, Dr. Beckley adds.
Alternatives to Botox while pregnant
We know that Botox is off the table during pregnancy, but if you’re still looking to smooth out those fine lines or wrinkles during this time, there are plenty of great options that can provide similar benefits that are safe for you and your baby.
Topical skin care
One of the best ingredients you can add to your daily skin-care routine is a vitamin C serum. It contains antioxidants for repairing and protecting the skin against sun damage, and prevents signs of premature aging. Just be sure to pair it with SPF.
Another great topical treatment is a serum with glycolic acid. It’s a great alternative to harsh scrubs or chemical peels, and the alpha-hydroxy acid works to gently remove dead skin cells and reveal a brighter, smoother complexion.
And if you’re curious about what ingredients in skin care to avoid, products that contain salicylic acid, tetracycline or its derivatives, minocycline and doxycycline, are a major no-no. These are popular antibiotics used to treat a range of skin diseases, but have also been proven to have negative effects on both future moms and their fetuses.
“Non-invasive procedures like facials, light therapy, and microdermabrasion can be considered,” says Dr. Savetsky. “But it’s essential to consult with a skin-care professional who is knowledgeable about pregnancy safe treatments.” These could also include chemical peels, oxygen facials, and even dermaplaning (aka face shaving).
Hydration and nutrition
In addition to non-invasive procedures and skin care, Dr. Savetsky recommends maintaining proper hydration and a balanced diet to help keep skin at its best during pregnancy. This includes drinking water throughout the day, eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and wearing SPF daily. And if you’re looking for a way to boost hydration, add a humidifier to your office or even by your bed while you sleep. The extra moisture will add firmness and help boost that natural glow expecting mothers are already known for.
But as always, if you’re unsure about the safety of injectables, skin-care products, or procedures and their safety during your pregnancy, consult with your OBGYN or physician about any questions you may have.