What Cosmetic Treatments Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Can you get aesthetic treatments when pregnant?

With all the things you have to give up when you’re pregnant (and lactating), you may be wondering whether anything is still safe. There are still some safe cosmetic procedures during pregnancy, but much of aesthetics will be off-limits until breast-feeding is completed.

SKIN CARE

What skin care ingredients to avoid during Pregnancy and Lactation:

Retinols or Retin-A

Avoid all retinols and Retin-A (tretinoin) during pregnancy and lactation. These are forms of Vitamin A, and have been associated with abnormal fetal development. All forms of retinoids should be avoided: 

  • Tazarotene (Tazorac)
  • Tretinoin (Retin-A)
  • Adapalene (Differin)
  • Alitretinoin 
  • retinoic acid
  • retinol
  • retinyl linoleate
  • retinyl palmitate
  • Bexarotene
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane)

Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening agent that is highly effective. Hydroquinone hasn’t been studied in pregnant humans, but can cause problems when given in high doses to animals. It should not be used during pregnancy or lactation.

What skin care ingredients are safe to use during Pregnancy?

Salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy-acids, BHAs) (topical only)

It is recommended that pregnant people not take aspirin pills, due to an increased risk of bleeding, especially in the brain. However, topical creams with salicylic acid under 2% do not pose a risk of bleeding, as very little is absorbed through the skin. Salicylic acids in cleansers that are washed off are also not absorbed and are considered safe for use in pregnancy. 

Glycolic acid and other alpha-hydroxy-acids (AHAs) like lactic acid

Topicals with AHAs are generally considered safe during pregnancy. These are not well absorbed by the skin and are safe in low concentrations in creams and safe in products that are washed off in rinses or cleansers.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is a wonderful hydrating ingredient and makes the skin soft and supple and plump. It is safe to use during pregnancy and lactation.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is an antioxidant naturally produced by yeast found on the skin and has both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a tyrosinase inhibitor, decreasing pigment. So it can be used to prevent hyperpigmentation and and treat melasma. It is often used to treat acne and is safe to use during pregnancy and lactation.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient used to fight acne. It is considered safe to use in limited amounts, but you should consult your OB/GYN before using this product as a daily treatment. 

COSMETIC PROCEDURES

What cosmetic procedures should be avoided during Pregnancy and Lactation?

  • Botox, Dysport and other Neurotoxins: these are strictly off-limits. 
  • Dermal Fillers and other injectables like Sculptra and Kybella
  • Any procedure that requires topical anesthetics, such as Microneedling, RF Microneedling, some laser procedures. The use of anesthetics in pregnant people is restricted to medically necessary procedures.
  • Chemical peels using salicylic acid or TCA should not be used. The use of glycolic and lactic acid peels have been used safely and there is conflicting advice about this, but we recommend avoiding all facial peels until after childbirth.
  • Sclerotherapy (vein injection treatment)
  • Body Sculpting

What aesthetic treatments are safe during pregnancy?

  • Facials
  • Dermaplaning
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Laser Procedures like Laser Hair removal, BBL/IPL, or V-Beam (as long as it is done without anesthetic). There has not been a comprehensive study of laser procedures on pregnant patients; however, these procedures are generally considered safe as long as topical numbing is not required.. One caveat here is that we generally do not recommend any laser procedure on the face during pregnancy. Some patients who are pregnant develop melasma during pregnancy for the first time. Lasers can aggravate this condition. However, laser hair removal on the legs for instance is considered safe.

What beauty treatments can I get while breastfeeding?

Everything that is OK during pregnancy is also OK during breastfeeding, as you might expect. In addition, local anesthetics needed for some procedures are safe, and do not pass into the breast milk. We still recommend avoiding Botox, Deep chemical peels, retinols, and hydroquinone while breastfeeding. But many treatments are now ok, once you are past childbirth. The following is a list of treatments that are safe during lactation:

  • Facials, dermaplaning, microdermabrasion, light chemical peels
  • Laser Hair removal
  • Laser treatments (like resurfacing for the face)
  • Microneedling and RF Microneedling
  • Dermal fillers, Sculptra, PRP
  • Body Sculpting

Summary

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, it is important to continue to take care of your skin, but make sure you avoid retinols and some other risky ingredients. Looking for a great safe regimen to take the place of your regular one? We can help recommend products that are safe and effective.
  • Most cosmetic procedures are off-limits during pregnancy, but facials, dermaplaning and microdermabrasion are still great options! Please ask us if you have questions about whether a laser procedure is still OK. We will wait until you are done breast-feeding to resume Botox or Dysport.
  • Though there are still a few restrictions, many procedures are safe during breastfeeding.

References:

American Academy of Dermatology: IS ANY ACNE TREATMENT SAFE TO USE DURING PREGNANCY?

International Journal of Women’s Dermatology: A review of the safety of cosmetic procedures during pregnancy and lactatio

Mayo Clinic: What's the best way to treat pregnancy acne?

Dermatologic Surgery: Safety of cosmetic dermatologic procedures during pregnancy

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