Mothers may be keen to maintain their youthful skin even while breastfeeding. To some, Botox may be an attractive treatment, as it can provide immediate relief to wrinkles and creases on the face. Its appeal can also be boosted by its popularity, with more than seven million Botox users in the United States in 2017. But, the big question remains: is Botox safe for mothers who are breastfeeding?
Overview on Botox
There are many legitimate advantages and concerns with Botox. For one, it contains the neuromodulator onabotulinum toxin type A, a drug that is produced from Clostridium botulinum, which can stop muscle contractions by blocking the transmission of acetylcholine to muscles.
This mechanism of action is effective for various muscle spasm-based conditions, including cosmetic indications like glabellar lines in between the eyebrows, forehead lines, and canthal lines drawn by the orbicularis oculi muscle at the corner of the eye. The constant muscle movement may deepen these folds. A simple Botox injection can help to relax these muscles and smooth the skin’s complexion.
Current views on Botox in breastfeeding mothers
As of now, there is no significant data regarding the presence of Botox in human milk, how it affects the milk production process, and how or if it has any effect on the breastfed child. Because of this lack data, many healthcare professionals do not recommend Botox treatments for nursing women.
Some researchers have pointed out that the large size of Botox particles may inhibit its infiltration into the systematic circulation of the body. Additionally, Tthe lack of evidence of Botox's effects on lactation can also be attributed to the low dose of Botox that has been administered into mothers in previous cases.
On the other hand, Botox is still considered a suitable medication for non-cosmetic purposes such as cervical dystonia. Botox should be prescribed under a doctor's discretion and only if it is determined that the potential positive outcomes from a Botox treatment outweighs its risks. Certain off-label uses of Botox can be applied if it is medically necessary.
Some mothers undergoing Botox treatments had concerns about Botox’s possible adverse effects on them and they resorted to a technique dubbed “pump and dump.” This is a method where women would express the milk and throw it out in the hope that harmful substances can be expelled along the way. However, this method does not affect the metabolization of Botox; it only affects the supply of breast milk. Plus, there is also no clear indication of botulinum toxin being metabolized in breast milk.
It is always better for a nursing mother to consult with their doctor about their suitability for receiving Botox.
Alternatives to Botox for breastfeeding mothers
If Botox is not recommended for nursing mothers, what other methods should they seek out?
Hyaluronic acid fillers such as Restylane or Juvederm may be suitable treatment choices because these substances’ high compatibility with the human body. Unfortunately, these too are under heavy usage restrictions with breastfeeding mothers because of a lack of data on their safety for that demographic.
What about mechanical aesthetic treatments, such as microdermabrasion and microneedling? Or even traditional procedures like acupuncture?
These methods are also dubious, although some physicians may be more lenient in terms of using them as compared to Botox. Postpartum patients who are still breastfeeding may have very sensitive skin that does not respond well to these methods. However, the use of shallow needles and less chemicals/substances like topical anesthetics may make these skin rejuvenating techniques more appropriate.
Overall, most doctors would suggest that patients finish breastfeeding before seeking out Botox treatments. If patients are still desperate for treatment, there are a few home remedies and practices that they can follow, including the following:
- Using sunscreens or sunblock when they are out;
- Staying hydrated by drinking water;
- Eating healthy foods, such as leafy greens, nuts, fatty fish, and avocados to repair damaged skin;
- Using hydrating and rejuvenating topical skincare products that are rich in hyaluronic acid and glycerin;
- Increasing the use of vitamins A, C, and E; keratin; and omega-3 supplements.
Due to the lack of convincing evidence on its safety, most doctors would steer away from prescribing Botox to their nursing patients. Although there have been no explicit claims that Botox can pass through the breast milk or affect its production, there are no significant results or studies that have said otherwise.
Ultimately, patients should inform their doctors if they are breastfeeding to avoid any misunderstandings or complications with treatments. Your doctor will determine whether Botox is suitable at the time.