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Beauty treatments while pregnant: are they safe?

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There’s no doubt the beauty industry is dominated by women. Both women aestheticians and women clients alike.

The thing with women is that they can get pregnant. Carrying a child can be a beautiful journey in itself. But that doesn’t mean it comes without days of feeling ‘blah.’ It also doesn’t mean that women experience flawless faces and bodies during gestation. Far from it!

During pregnancy, hormone changes are running rampant. This affects nearly every aspect of a woman’s inner and outer being. And, all the while, every doctor’s orders are to keep clear of almost everything that used to make a woman feel good – from pain killers to skin care!

So, when it comes to beauty treatments while pregnant, we can wonder: are they safe? What’s a little Botox® or laser hair removal going to affect during this time?

We asked our very own, Dr. Shah to give us some insight into this topic. Read on below to learn what he tells his own patients when he gets asked FAQs on aesthetics and pregnancy.

What happens to a woman’s skin when she becomes pregnant?

pregnant woman outdoors wearing a sun hat for sun protection - melasma prevention concept

There are 3 types of skin changes that can occur during pregnancy, which are quite common.

The first is irregular darkening of the skin. It is a condition called melasma. It is also known as “the mask of pregnancy,” because women commonly get it while pregnant. Melasma shows up on the cheeks and forehead in ‘patchy’ formations. It is made worse by sun exposure.

The second is acne. Acne can be pre-existing, but it can also be brand new to a woman’s skin experience after she gets pregnant. Either way, it seems to flare up during this time.

The third issue is increasingly dry skin. Like with acne, the dryness can occur in people with pre-existing dry skin, or it can just ‘switch on.’

Apart from the three main issues above, there are also pre-existing skin conditions like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis. Surprisingly, these can improve or get worse during pregnancy.

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What types of changes do you recommend for skin care routines when women become pregnant?

woman with lotion on face - skin routine concept

I would recommend the following changes, based on the three main pregnancy skin conditions noted earlier.

With regard to melasma…

The safest melasma treatment while pregnant, is to use mineral sunscreen, and use it obsessively. Using sunscreen 3-4 times a day is appropriate. I do not recommend chemical sunscreens during pregnancy. These chemicals can be absorbed into the body. Some contain or produce benzene, which can cause serious damage.

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After the pregnancy is over, we can begin to address the patchy spots on the skin using topical creams, certain lasers and chemical peels. Our clinic has successfully treated melasma on several women. It’s a bit of a specialty in the skin care world. It’s important to see a qualified doctor for this condition.

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With regard to acne flare ups…

Use a good face wash with salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid, a.k.a. BHA), or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). It’s also a great idea to follow cleansing with a hyaluronic acid (HA) based moisturizer.

Covering up with mineral makeup is also ok. Other types of makeup may have chemicals in them that can be absorbed into the body. They should be avoided.

Although popularly prescribed for acne, I do not recommend using retinoids during pregnancy. These are very strong, and have not been tested for safety on pregnant women.

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With regard to dry skin…

I recommend limiting the use of soap to once or twice a week. Also, aim to use a hyaluronic acid (HA) based moisturizer multiple times a day.

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Is it important to make the above skin routine changes when trying to get pregnant, or only after finding out you’re pregnant?

Ideally it is important to make these changes whilst attempting to conceive. This is especially true with regard to darkening of the skin. If melasma occurs, it can be a prolonged problem that can last well after pregnancy. With that in mind, commencement of mineral sunscreen use and protection against the sun is very important.

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Should a woman worry if she had Botox®, CoolSculpting® or was using retinol, Latisse®, etc. and then finds out she is pregnant by surprise? What steps should she take if this is her case?

Formal studies have not taken place where Botox® has been used in pregnant ladies. However, there have been plenty of retrospective studies done where women found out they were pregnant while still using Botox®. There were no associated problems with Botox® and pregnancy in these cases. So, I would not worry about it.

The same goes for CoolSculpting®, retinol and Latisse®. Once you realize you are pregnant, just stop using those treatments.

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For a pregnant woman, what types of medical aesthetic treatments can be done? Especially since pregnancy is hard emotionally and some days women feel like they want to look beautiful. What do you recommend on those occasions?

woman feeling down about skin and looks - beauty treatments concept

Absolutely, there are some treatments that can be done on pregnant women!

I would recommend facials like HydraFacial™, or microdermabrasion. We perform these regularly on pregnant women at our clinic.

Using good-quality, mineral make-up is also a great option, since it does not get absorbed into the body.

I would not recommend anything else, since no studies have been done to confirm their safety on pregnant women. So, stay away from things like laser treatments, injectables, fat removal and so on.

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Is there anything that can be done to prevent stretch marks before, during or after pregnancy, that you recommend?

Topical hyaluronic acid and peptides are great for preventing stretch marks. We recommend HA5™ Rejuvenating Hydrator by SkinMedica® to our patients. It also contains peptides.

You can also try the Colorescience® Pep Up® Collagen Renewal Face & Neck Treatment on the stomach area.

It’s best to begin applying these products even before stretch marks appear. Apply them where you think skin looks a bit stretched.

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Are some women more prone to getting stretch marks than others? How do some women come out with amazing, flawless bodies after pregnancy? Are they doing something special?

We can never predict who is going to get stretch marks. But generally, we notice that overweight people have a higher likelihood of getting them.

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Is there anything a woman can do during her pregnancy to ensure her baby doesn’t end up with acne or skin issues? :)

There is no evidence of anything that can be done in this regard, unfortunately.

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Are there any food choice recommendations you have for pregnant women, as it relates to the health of their skin?

Yes! Healthy, balanced meals with lots of fruits and vegetables. Combined with exercise, these are excellent for healthy skin and healthy pregnancy.

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Is there any other advice you give to pregnant women as a doctor?

My advice to pregnant women is always the same: good food, attention to mental health and physical activity are the best for a great pregnancy and healthy body.

With regard to exercise, my general rule is that if you were at ease doing a certain activity in a comfortable manner before pregnancy, then you can do it during pregnancy within reason. I would not recommend taking up skydiving!

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Are you looking for Vancouver aesthetic treatments while pregnant? We can help! We offer safe facials for pregnant women.

CALL / TEXT 604 580 2464

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