updated 26 Sep 2013, 09:32
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Fri, Jul 26, 2013
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The risks of botox during pregnancy

My friend has been trying to have a baby, but she still gets skin treatments and injections, especially Botox. I tried to warn her that it could be harmful to the baby, but she dismissed my concern. Am I right to be worried?

She should talk to her dermatologist about her plans and make sure she's not yet pregnant before getting another injection. Most of these injections are repeated every three to six months, and it's possible she could get pregnant during that time frame.

Although there has been no evidence that these substances can be harmful during pregnancy, a lot of dermatologists are against any non-essential services being offered to a pregnant patient, just to be on the safe side.

If she has a botulinum injection and then finds out she's pregnant, it is unlikely there will be any risk to the baby. Studies have shown that when botulinum is injected into facial muscles, the amount used is so small that it doesn't circulate throughout the body, and is therefore unlikely to reach the baby.

However, if she is pregnant and considering injections, the lack of data suggests it's better to wait until after the baby has been weaned from breast milk. Although it is not known whether botulinum is excreted in the milk, many drugs are, and caution should be exercised.

This is not to say that botulinum would affect fertility or interfere with the growing foetus - again, this is not yet proved or disproved. However, you might be more assured to hear that the substance usually binds in the injection areas, and only tiny amounts, if any, reach the bloodstream.

Still, due to liability issues, most dermatologists recommend that those who are trying to have a child, are already pregnant or are breastfeeding avoid Botox and other non-necessary |cosmetic treatments.

Also to be avoided during pregnancy is any treatment that requires skin-numbing solutions, because they might leech into the bloodstream and harm the growing foetus.

Not all skin treatments have to be avoided during pregnancy. You just have to be extra careful and make sure you consult a dermatologist before making a decision.

Most importantly, choose one who is credible, safe and trustworthy. The dermatologist should be able to answer your or your friend's questions and offer other safer choices in case she doesn't want to take a risk.

Thanisorn Thamlikitkul MD is a member of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery and certified in dermatological laser surgery. Send your questions for her to [email protected]

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