Pregnancy and aesthetic procedures: making patients aware of the risks - Hamilton Fraser


Pregnancy is both an exciting and an emotional time as expectant mothers prepare themselves physically and mentally for the birth of their baby. Most women still want to look and feel their best while they are expecting, but at the same time would not want to jeopardise the health of their growing baby. Some women will have been undergoing regular aesthetic treatments like Botulinum Toxin or Laser Hair Removal before pregnancy and will want to know what procedures they can safely continue to have.

Advising patients of the risks

Practitioners therefore need to know which procedures they can perform safely and what advice they should give to their pregnant patients. Not surprisingly, the topic of aesthetic treatments during pregnancy is commonly debated among practitioners.

“Research findings showed that certain ingredients and procedures were likely to be safe when treating pregnant women, but that studies to support this are limited.”

Victoria Smith, Director of Aesthetics at Absolute Aesthetics

Clearly, the growing baby’s health must be the prime consideration and risks must be weighed against benefits. For example, many women notice more moles during pregnancy and if changes are concerning, a biopsy can be performed safely at this time. As is generally the rule, prevention is better than cure – to avoid aggravating pregnancy associated lesions and dermatoses, meticulous use of sunscreen during pregnancy is advisable.

While isolated events of miscarriage have been reported in women with a previous history of miscarriage where high doses of toxins have been used, these are rare. Taking a ‘light’ treatment such as Laser Hair Removal, pregnant women can continue to undergo treatment while pregnant, but they are advised against using the topical numbing cream, so the treatment may be more painful. This applies with other laser treatments too, so although there may be no harmful radiation in the lasers, it is important that the patient is comfortable – they may be better off leaving treatment until after the baby is born.

What if the practitioner is not aware that the patient is pregnant?

Practitioners may inadvertently perform procedures on a patient during the first trimester, before the patient herself is even aware of the pregnancy. Or a patient may choose not to reveal her pregnancy to the practitioner. These scenarios highlight the importance of carrying out a thorough consultation with patients before every treatment, even if the patient is a regular customer. Patient circumstances are constantly changing and practitioners need to be aware of this in order to select patients and advise them appropriately – check out the Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance #patientselection campaign for more information on the importance of responsible patient selection.

Many cosmetic procedures have not been studied adequately on pregnant patients and, should there be a complication, treatment options may be limited.

The lack of controlled trials addressing the safety of many cosmetic procedures during pregnancy suggest that it is advisable to delay elective aesthetic surgery until after the baby is born. A large number of changes occur in the body during pregnancy, many of which will resolve naturally postpartum. However, some pregnancy-related changes such as sagging and pigmented skin, stretch marks and excess fat may lead women to seek out aesthetic procedures following the birth of their baby. Responsible practitioners who have advised patients during pregnancy should be well-placed to help women address the unwanted physical after-effects of pregnancy and discuss their individual cosmetic goals at this time.

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