Can I Get Botox While Breastfeeding?

Woman getting Botox


Anamaria Mejia / EyeEm

Everyone’s pregnancy journey is unique—whether you’re having your first kid or your fifth. But one thing is certain: There’s a long list of foods, activities, and products you should avoid. And some of them still apply even after your baby is born.

We know, after many months of being pregnant, you may be anxious to get back to some of your personal luxuries that aren’t safe for you or your infant while pregnant. However, there are ones you may want to hold off on for a bit longer if you are or are planning on breastfeeding—Botox among them.

Even if you’ve never heard of this treatment, have merely been Botox-curious, or are a fervent fan of getting the skin-smoothing injectable, you may want to place any consideration of it on the back burner until you’re no longer pregnant or breastfeeding.

Ahead, two board-certified dermatologists help us explain what Botox is and the potential risks it can pose for your little one before they’re born and while they’re nursing. We’ll also share some breastfeeding-safe skincare alternatives.

What Is Botox?

Botox is the most frequently performed cosmetic procedure in the U.S—around 5 million treatments are performed each year. It’s an in-office injectable treatment that temporarily smooths fine facial lines and wrinkles. Results are usually seen in a few days to weeks, and typically last three to four months before retreatment is needed.

One common misconception about Botox is that it’s an aesthetic treatment category, like lasers or chemical peels. In truth, Botox is the brand name. Dan Belkin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the New York Dermatology Group in NYC, explains: “Botox is a brand name of botulinum toxin, which is a neuromodulator that relaxes muscles when injected locally into the skin.” Other brands that commonly get lumped under the Botox banner are also neuromodulators and used for the same purpose. They include Jeuveau, Dysport, and Xeomin.

He continues, “By carefully using it to relax certain muscles of expression on the face, we can reduce wrinkles and gently contour certain areas like the brow.” In a nutshell, if you limit the activity of the muscles in your forehead that you use to frown, you limit the visibility of your frown lines. Ditto with horizontal forehead lines and crow’s feet.

It only takes a near-microscopic amount of its active ingredient, botulinum toxin, in each vial of Botox to interfere with muscle movement, leading to smoothing of the skin over the injected muscles.

The History of Botox

Botox was initially used to treat medical conditions before its cosmetic benefits were discovered. In the 1970s, Botox’s active ingredient, botulinum toxin, debuted as a groundbreaking treatment for people with crossed eyes (a.k.a. strabismus).

It then evolved into a treatment for a surprisingly wide range of issues such as chronic migraines, incontinence, and more, including a painful, involuntary neck muscle contraction disorder called cervical dystonia. Likewise, issues with spasticity, like muscle tone and stiffness, can be treated with Botox. Mary P. Lupo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Lupo Center for Aesthetic & General Dermatology in New Orleans, adds that it can even block the nerve receptors that make you sweat. A call many soon-to-be-brides have heard loud and clear when planning their big days.

Overall, botulinum toxin injections are relatively painless—like a small pinprick—with minimal common side effects and effective results. That said, they’re not for everyone, especially during certain stages of your life.

Is It Safe to Use Botox While Breastfeeding?

Not all of life’s little queries have clear, steadfast answers. But when it comes to your precious infant, it’s always best to err on the side of caution—especially when the science isn’t quite in yet. 

Dr. Lupo points out, “While the amounts [of Botox] injected are minuscule, there are no studies to see if it gets into breast milk . . . and if it is absorbed by the baby.” So, while the effects of Botox on your skin’s appearance may be alluring, rather than take any chances with your little one, it’s best to wait until you’re no longer breastfeeding.

Plus, let’s not forget that Botox is a prescription medication. And, like all medications, it comes with potential side effects—breastfeeding or not. These may include headache, neck pain, fatigue, vision disturbances, pain or bruising at the injection site, and allergic reactions.

Whether you’re breastfeeding, planning to, or in the process of weaning your baby off of breast milk, always speak to your healthcare provider before getting Botox to see if it’s right for you.

Every breastfeeding journey is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any other questions about using Botox while breastfeeding.

Why You Should Not Use Botox While Breastfeeding

Due to the lack of research, the FDA warns against pregnant and breastfeeding people using Botox.Best practices suggest that all cosmetic procedures are limited during pregnancy, in order to mitigate the risk of unnecessary complications. However, according to dermatologist, Rachel Nazarian, MD, botox presents no direct risk to the fetus.

Dr. Belkin does note, however, that using Botox while breastfeeding is a controversial topic. “Some physicians will offer it if mom agrees to pump and dump for the day, and others will offer it once the baby is over six months old,” he says. “However, due to the limited data, some physicians won’t offer it [at all].”

Whenever you’re treading in murky waters such as these, it may be best to follow an old medical rule of thumb: If the potential risks clearly outweigh any benefits—and seeing how we’re discussing using Botox cosmetically, not medically—the most prudent course of action would be to avoid putting your infant in possible harm’s way. But, of course, you’re always free to run it by your healthcare provider to get their take. After all, the two of you know your situation best.

Risks of Getting Botox While Breastfeeding

The risks of getting Botox while breastfeeding hinges on whether or not it travels through breast milk. Though there’s been a lack of research into this type of transmission, there have been some preliminary findings on using Botox while pregnant, which we’d be remiss not to mention. These include the risk of malformations and abortion, as well as premature birth, low birth weight, and impairments in bone development.

When Can I Resume Using Botox? 

Just like dermatologists hold varying opinions on whether or not it’s safe to use Botox while breastfeeding, they can differ on when you can resume it, as well. If you follow the centuries-old scientific and philosophical tenet of Occam’s razor, however, the simplest guidance would be the correct one—resuming Botox (or trying it for the first time) when you’re no longer breastfeeding.

As far as how long after you stop breastfeeding you can safely use Botox, speak with your healthcare provider to nail down the right timeline for you.

Breastfeeding-Safe Alternatives 

Hard-hitting aesthetic treatments like Botox may be no-gos while breastfeeding. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw your entire skincare regimen out the window too. Although topical skincare products can't deliver the same anti-aging punch as Botox, there are some safe ingredients you can use to help improve fine lines and winkles.

Argireline

Dr. Lupo explains that topical peptides can have a similar effect on smoothing out the appearance of fine lines. One synthetic peptide in particular, called Argireline, mimics Botox’s effect of inhibiting the neurotransmitters that control movement in your face. It has been shown to be effective at improving the look of wrinkles by up to 48% following twice a day application for four weeks. 

When you’re breastfeeding and Botox is off-limits, Argireline may just be your next best bet. You can find it in serums, lotions, and creams in all price ranges, like DermaSet  Anti-Aging Cream with Argireline & Plant-Based Stem Cells ($135) and MATRIXYL 3000 + Argireline ($21).

Glycolic Acid

Another ingredient known for its ability to help improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles is glycolic acid, the most effective alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). You can find it in diverse skincare products such as serums, moisturizers, and chemical peels. It gently exfoliates the top layer of skin to remove dead skin cells and reveal fresher, younger-looking skin underneath. By doing this, it also helps promote collagen production to help your skin look more plump and smooth.

While glycolic acid has not been tested in pregnant or breastfeeding people, unlike Botox, the science is aligned on its safety. The minute amount of glycolic acid in skincare formulations is unlikely to absorb into your bloodstream and contaminate your breast milk. Try it in Sunday Riley GOOD GENES Glycolic Acid Treatment ($85) or NEOSTRATA Smooth Surface Glycolic Chemical Peel ($54). 

Hyaluronic Acid

Last, but not least, is one of any skincare fanatic’s holy grails—hyaluronic acid (HA). This water-loving molecule is found naturally in your skin and joints. It soaks up hydration like a sponge, enabling it to draw moisture to the surface of your skin. HA is a gentle and effective ingredient that can be used on all skin types, even allergy-prone and sensitive skin. Best of all, it’s known to be safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

HA is a common ingredient in numerous cleansers, serums, masks, and moisturizers for both skin and hair. There are luxe formulations, such as SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier ($102), which ramps up your skin’s natural HA levels by 30%. There are also more affordable HA options, such as The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum ($7), that are a little lighter on your wallet.

A Word From Verywell

It can be challenging to know what you can and can’t use while breastfeeding, such as whether or not you can get Botox. However, the potential risks—developmentally to your baby—of Botox being transmitted to your newborn through your breast milk likely outweigh the cosmetic wrinkle-smoothing benefits. But don’t just take our word for it, speak to your healthcare provider for their professional opinion on the topic. 

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11 Sources
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