Cosmetic procedures in general should be postponed until after pregnancy. Factors to consider in a pregnant patient include the hormonal and physiologic changes of the patient during pregnancy, as well as the risk to the fetus.
Many dermatologic changes occur during a pregnancy. Pregnant women may develop hyperpigmentation, formation of vascular lesions and varicose veins, hirsutism, striae, acne, and increased skin growths. These changes may lead pregnant women to seek cosmetic treatments.
However, physiologic changes such as increased blood volume, decreased hematocrit, increased flushing, increased melanocyte stimulation, and decreased wound healing should prompt a delay of cosmetic procedures until 3-6 months after the postpartum period, when these factors return to normal and the risk of complications is reduced.
The safety of many cosmetic treatments during pregnancy remains unknown. This includes microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser treatments. Given the increased risk of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, as well as poor wound healing and increased risk of hypertrophic and keloidal scarring in pregnancy, these procedures are often avoided.
The safety of injectable treatments during pregnancy, such as liquid sclerosants and fillers, has not been evaluated. However, the manufacturers list pregnancy and breastfeeding as contraindications to treatment. Neurotoxins are also avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding, based on teratogenicity in animal studies. There have been no controlled trials in humans.
Though there have been incidental exposures of botulinum toxin in women who did not know they were pregnant, no documented reports of fetal anomaly during these incidental exposures has been reported. In addition, no studies have been conducted to evaluate whether the toxin is excreted in breast milk, or when it is safe to use neurotoxins, fillers, or liquid sclerosants prior to conception.
The 10 months of pregnancy and many months of nursing can be a long stretch to wait for women who get regular cosmetic treatments. The skin changes of pregnancy can be bothersome; however, the risks of complications to the mother and the fetus outweigh the transient benefits of cosmetic procedures. The hormonal and physiologic changes of pregnancy are widely different in each woman, and sometimes the long-term side effects and complications can be completely unpredictable. Thus, patience and thorough counseling are the best strategies for treating our pregnant and nursing moms.
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Morgan, J.C. et al. Botulinum Toxin and Pregnancy Skinmed 2006;5:308 .
Monteiro, E. Botulinum toxin A during pregnancy: a survey of treating physicians. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 2006;77:117-9 .
Lee, K.C., et al. Safety of cosmetic dermatologic procedures during pregnancy. Dermatol. Surg. 2013;39:1573-86 .
Goldberg, D. and Maloney, M. Dermatologic surgery and cosmetic procedures during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Dermatologic Therapy 2013;26:321-30 .
Dr. Talakoub and Dr. Wesley are co-contributors to a monthly Aesthetic Dermatology column in Dermatology News. Dr. Talakoub is in private practice in McLean, Va. Dr. Wesley practices dermatology in Beverly Hills, Calif. This month’s column is by Dr. Talakoub.