Is Botox for pregnancy headaches safe?

Chrissy Teigen said she takes neck muscle Botox to help her cope with "really really bad" pregnancy headaches.

Laura Hensley 3 minute read September 10, 2020
Chrissy Teigen botox

Chrissy Teigen told her Twitter followers Botox helped relieve the pain of pregnancy headaches. Chris Galley/Getty Images for GQ

Candour is Chrissy Teigen’s brand.  

She’s admitted to a boob job (and recent implant removal). She’s talked about depression, anxiety and infertilty. And this weekend, the model and cookbook author copped to Botox — while expecting. 

Lest the haters get too excited, the 34-year-old celebrity suffers “really really bad pregnancy headaches,” which according to the American Migraine Foundation is a thing, particularly during the first trimester.  

And sure, Advil is out during pregnancy. But “neck muscle Botox with a crazy combo of beta blocker shots and radio wave frequency something something doctor terms” — is that actually safe? 

A protein complex produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, Botox blocks certain nerve signals that cause muscles to contract. When you get an injection, you are telling targeted muscles to relax.   

Relaxing wrinkles is what Botox is best known for, but research has found that injections into specific head and neck muscles can help reduce the pain of migraines. In Canada, neurologists and  pain specialists may offer Botox to patients who experience headaches 15 days or more per month, lasting at least four hours a day. 

Botox is also used to treat eye twitching, bladder dysfunction and excessive sweating. (Teigen swears by that last one, too: “I can wear silk again without soaking woohoo!”) 

Unfortunately, Botox is not a one-time fix. Its effects only last around three to six months.  

There’s also some risk. According to Health Canada, if Botox is injected incorrectly in the forehead or around the eyes, the result may be droopy eyelids; too much Botox in the neck can cause muscle weakness.  

Although very rare, it’s even possible for the toxin in the injection to spread throughout the body. People with underlying neurological disorders, swallowing difficulties or breathing problems should exercise caution when seeking Botox treatment.  

There’s also some concern around Botox during pregnancy. One U.S. study concluded that the treatment “appears to be relatively safe for both expectant mother and fetus.” But the authors note that further data is needed and  “recommend that physicians and patients carefully consider the risks and benefits before using [Botox] in pregnant women.” 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns outright against injections for eye wrinkles during pregnancy.  

Teigen’s own advice to a follower who said no one would give her Botox during pregnancy —  go to a neurologist instead of cosmetic it’s a lot better and safer because they talk to your OB.” 

Given how often women’s pain is ignored or misdiagnosed, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that even fans who are not expecting responded to Teigen’s tweet with a plea for more information about Botox procedures. 

“(G)oing on 3 weeks of a headache that’s presumed to be a migraine not even touched by over the counter meds and only dulled by migraine medications,” wrote one. 

“Jaw Botox for my grinding was a MUST for my regular headaches,” Teigen responded. “You can also do behind the brow for migraines. Life changing.” 

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