By Angela Messer, MS, Teratogen Information Specialist, MotherToBaby California
“I love the way my eyebrows look!” Emily just found out she was 6 weeks pregnant, and had started the process of microblading (a cosmetic tattooing technique, in which a tool made of small needles is used to add semi-permanent pigment to the skin; resembling the hair on the brow) before she knew she was pregnant. Logging into the MotherToBaby chat for some guidance, after online searching resulted in mixed answers, she wanted to know if it was still ok to continue microblading during her pregnancy.
Emily’s question is a common one we receive here at MotherToBaby. With new and upcoming products in the beauty industry, many women want to know if it is ok to start or continue treatments like microblading when they become pregnant. Procedures like these often require more than one visit, broken up between weeks or even months. For pregnant women, the “nine month stretch” raises questions about their use in pregnancy.
The difficulty in answering a question like Emily’s comes down to the lack of information about these types of procedures in pregnancy and also while breastfeeding. Without the research available, we simply do not know about how they may, or may not, affect your pregnancy or your breastfed infant.
The pigments used in microblading are made up of different types of chemical compounds, like oxides, which can be pre-mixed and purchased by the cosmetic tattoo artist. They may also be mixed by the professionals themselves. A few unknowns are how much pigment, if any, is going into the skin, is entering the mom’s blood, crossing the placenta, and reaching the baby – which also means we do not know if the ingredients in the pigment could pose any risk. The same goes for breastfeeding moms – without good data, we do not know how much pigment, if any, is getting into the milk reaching the breastfed baby.
Possibility of infection
Another thing to consider about microblading in pregnancy and breastfeeding is the risk for infection. As previously mentioned, during the microblading process, a cosmetic tattoo artist deposits pigment into the outer layer of the skin by penetrating the skin with tiny needles. There is a possibility that the needles used may not be completely sterilized, which can lead to a higher risk of health issues such as staph infection, abscess, skin inflammation, or other infections like Hepatitis B and HIV. Medications like antibiotics may be needed to treat these conditions, sometimes requiring weeks or months of treatment. If left untreated, they can lead to health issues for mom and baby. Visiting a reputable business with good hygiene practices in place is a good idea should you choose to have microblading done during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Some women report that the microblading treatment can be painful. If that’s the case, the cosmetic tattoo artist may recommend the use of additional medications to control the pain (e.g. a topical lidocaine cream, or Tylenol). During pregnancy and breastfeeding, Tylenol (acetaminophen) is considered by most healthcare professionals to be the preferred pain reliever: https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/acetaminophen-pregnancy/. With topical exposures, like lidocaine cream, a significant amount is generally not expected to enter the mom’s blood and result in an exposure to the pregnancy. Consider these additional exposures during pregnancy or while breastfeeding when deciding whether or not to book an appointment.
With all these unknowns in mind, it can be difficult to evaluate what possible risks a developing baby or breastfed infant might face. Ultimately it comes down to weighing the risks vs. the benefits, and this is exactly what I discussed with Emily on our chat. Having gone to a licensed cosmetic tattoo artist, Emily was reassured that her microblading procedure early in pregnancy was unlikely to be a concern. Moving forward, she decided that given the lack of research, she would prefer to wait until she was no longer pregnant or breastfeeding to resume further treatment. “My eyebrows might not look as great for the next year, but I won’t have to constantly worry about the ink reaching the baby or the possibility of infection from having this done!” she shared as we wrapped up the chat.
If you have questions about microblading while pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t hesitate to contact a MotherToBaby specialist via phone, text, chat, or email.
Angela Messer, MS, is a Teratogen Information Specialist with MotherToBaby California. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Chapman University and her Master’s degree from Kansas State University in academic advising/counseling. Angela has been with MotherToBaby since 2009 and holds a special interest in maternal medical conditions in pregnancy. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in her hometown of San Diego, CA with her husband and 9 month old daughter.
MotherToBaby is a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets. Also, make sure to subscribe to The MotherToBaby Podcast available on iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify and podcatchers everywhere.