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Last updated: Jun 20, 2022
5 min read

Botox during pregnancy: is it safe?

 

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant and are considering trying Botox or have been receiving injections regularly, you may find yourself asking, “Can you get Botox while pregnant?”  

Simply put, there isn’t enough research to definitively say that it’s safe. You may be able to continue receiving Botox while pregnant, but it’s unknown whether or not it could lead to problems for you or your baby. 

Keep reading to learn more about Botox and what the current research says about Botox during pregnancy.  

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What is Botox?

Botox is a brand name for an injection of a toxin called botulinum toxin type A. It’s considered an injectable neurotoxin because it acts on the nervous system to temporarily weaken or paralyze muscles.

While Botox is best known as a cosmetic treatment for fine lines and wrinkles (like crow’s feet or frown lines), it has other medical purposes and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for managing medical conditions like excessive sweating, chronic migraines, and more (FDA, 2016).

Multiple brands produce botulinum toxin injections, but most people refer to them as Botox. Other brands selling this injectable neurotoxin include Dyspot, Xeomin, and Jeuveau.

Can you get Botox while pregnant?

If you’re used to getting Botox treatments and become pregnant, you’re likely wondering if it’s safe to continue these treatments.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer for whether it’s safe to continue getting Botox while pregnant. According to the FDA, it’s unknown if Botox could harm an unborn baby (FDA, 2016).

However, some researchers believe Botox is likely safe during pregnancy (Li, 2020; Tan, 2013; Cardon, 2021). 

One reason some people believe Botox is likely safe is the size of the toxin’s molecules. Since they’re larger in size, properly administered intramuscular injections of botulinum toxin are unlikely to move throughout the whole body or cross into the placenta (Tan, 2013). 

Ultimately, data is limited, and there are only a few small research studies that look at the effects of botulinum toxin injections on people who are pregnant.

One review looked at seven cases of women who had botulism poisoning in their second or third trimester. There was no evidence of fetal birth defects or botulism in the infants in these seven cases (Tan, 2013).

And a larger 2015 review of over 500 pregnancies of people who received Botox injections found the rate of complications was similar to the general population, suggesting that Botox doesn’t increase the rate of problems for the mother or baby (Brin, 2016). 

Possible risks of using Botox while pregnant

The possible side effects and complications of Botox injections for people who are and are not pregnant include (FDA, 2016):

  • Blurred vision or double vision
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice
  • Trouble talking and saying words clearly
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Problems breathing
  • Trouble swallowing

These side effects could develop hours to weeks after receiving an injection.

As for risks to the pregnancy itself, again, there is not enough data to conclude that Botox produces complications during pregnancy. 

Can you get Botox while breastfeeding?

Similar to during pregnancy, it’s unknown whether Botox passes into breast milk or causes complications.

Researchers believe the risk of complications of receiving Botox while breastfeeding is low. It appears unlikely the botulinum toxin will pass to the infant through breast milk (Trivedi, 2017).

But even though it’s suspected to be safe, little scientific evidence supports this. 

So, while it may be safe to continue your Botox injections while breastfeeding, putting them on hold is also understandable. Talk with your doctor and pediatrician to discuss the possible benefits and risks.

When can I resume Botox after pregnancy?

If you choose to pause your Botox injections while pregnant and breastfeeding, you’re likely wondering at what point you can start them up again. 

Really, there’s no exact answer. 

It depends on your preferences and how you choose to weigh the possible risks and benefits.  

It appears unlikely the injections will cause harm to the baby. Still, the safest option is to avoid resuming Botox until you’re no longer pregnant or breastfeeding.

What about Botox for medical reasons?

If you use Botox for reasons other than cosmetic concerns, you may be wondering whether you can continue the treatments. 

Again, researchers believe the risks to the baby are unlikely (Trivedi, 2017). 

The best thing to do is talk with your healthcare provider to decide if the benefits outweigh the possible risks. 

In addition, your healthcare provider may be able to offer other treatments to manage your condition that are known to be safe during pregnancy.

Botox alternatives while pregnant

If you opt to pause your Botox injections while pregnant, you’ll likely want to find some safe alternatives. 

These options may not have the exact same results as receiving Botox and fillers. Still, they can help support your overall health and appearance.

Possible treatments and lifestyle tips include:

  • Consider a peel: Research suggests glycolic acid and lactic acid peels are safe during pregnancy. However, it’s best to stay clear of salicylic acid peels while pregnant (Trivedi, 2017).
  • Get a facial: Be sure to tell your esthetician you’re expecting so they use pregnancy-safe products.
  • Use a moisturizer once or twice daily.
  • Wear sunscreen daily with at least SPF 30.
  • Exfoliate a few times a week.
  • Talk with your dermatologist about pregnancy-safe treatments and skincare products.
  • Get enough sleep (adopting some good sleep hygiene practices may help).
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.

The bottom line on getting Botox while pregnant is that there is not enough research to definitively say whether it’s safe or not. It may be best to err on the side of caution and wait until after pregnancy to resume your Botox injections. But ultimately, talking with your healthcare provider about what’s healthiest for you, your baby, and your current medical situation is best. 

References

  1. Brin, M. F., Kirby, R. S., Slavotinek, A., et al. (2016). Pregnancy outcomes following exposure to onabotulinumtoxinA. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 25(2), 179–187. doi:10.1002/pds.3920. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5063122/ 
  2. Cardon, B. R., Smith, M. E., & Cerrati, E. W. (2021). Case series of botulinum toxin administered to pregnant patients and review of the literature. Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine, 23(3), 187–190. doi:10.1089/fpsam.2020.0234. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32783635/ 
  3. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2016). Medication guide Botox. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/media/77359/download 
  4. Li, W. & Tang, M. (2020). Application of botulinum toxin in pregnancy and its impact on female reproductive health. Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, 19(1), 83–91. doi:14740338.2020.1707803. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31868020/ 
  5. Tan, M., Kim, E., Koren, G., & Bozzo, P. (2013). Botulinum toxin type A in pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician, 59(11), 1183–1184. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3828093/ 
  6. Trivedi, M. K., Kroumpouzos, G., & Murase, J. E. (2017). A review of the safety of cosmetic procedures during pregnancy and lactation. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 3(1), 6–10. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.01.005. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418954/