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The Effects of a Glycolic Peel During Pregnancy

author image Sarah Davis
Sarah Davis has worked in nutrition in the clinical setting and currently works as a licensed Realtor in California. Davis began writing about nutrition in 2006 and had two chapters published in "The Grocery Store Diet" book in 2009. She enjoys writing about nutrition and real estate and managing her website, RealtorSD.com. She earned her bachelor's degree in nutrition from San Diego State University.

Glycolic peels are facial treatments that use glycolic acid to strip off the top layer of skin. They are usually done in doctor's offices or medical salons. Many women undergo glycolic peels because they make the skin smoother and younger looking. Although the safety of glycolic peels during pregnancy has not been extensively studied, there could be some possible side effects.

The Risk of Birth Defects

According to the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, all women have a risk of about 3 to to 5 percent of having a baby with a birth defect. It is currently unknown whether getting a glycolic peel would lead to a birth defect directly.

Probably Safe for the Baby

Dr. Stephen Mandy, a Miami dermatologist, discussed his feelings about glycolic peels during pregnancy at RealSelf.com, a website that reviews beauty services. He states that he doesn't believe glycolic peels would cause any harm to the unborn baby, but may cause skin concerns for the pregnant woman.

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Unknown Effects on the Baby

Whereas glycolic peels on pregnant women will probably not cause serious side effects for the baby, Dr. Bryan Chen, a San Diego dermatologist, reported that the baby may absorb a small amount of the chemicals used in glycolic peels. He states that it is best to stay away from glycolic peels during pregnancy to avoid any unknown harmful effects to the unborn child. Dr. Jeffery Zwiren, a plastic surgeon in Atlanta, told RealSelf.com that the chemicals involved in glycolic acid peels have not been tested on pregnant women.

Redness and Peeling

According to the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, the sensitivity of a woman's skin is increased during pregnancy. Therefore, a pregnant woman may be more likely to experience the normal side effects of glycolic peels like peeling and redness than a woman who is not pregnant.


Melasma is a skin condition that causes altered pigmentation of the skin and brown and gray patches on the face. The cause of melasma is unknown; however, Dr. Mandy believes that glycolic peels may increase the likelihood that a pregnant woman will develop melasma. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that the brownish-gray patches will likely fade after the pregnancy ends.

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