Is Laser Hair Removal Safe While Pregnant? Experts Explain

Is Laser Hair Removal Safe While Pregnant? Experts Explain

Let’s talk lasers. We all know that you have to take extra care while pregnant to avoid treatments and ingredients that might harm the bun in your oven. But when it comes to treatments like laser hair removal, where there are at-home options you could also consider using, it can be confusing to know what is really allowed. The real deal is that you’d be hard pressed to find any dermatologist who would recommend you get laser hair removal while pregnant. But why?

Featured Experts

  • Doris Day, MD is a dermatologist based in New York City
  • Gilly S. Munavalli, MD is a dermatologist based in Charlotte, NC
  • Bertha Baum, MD is a dermatologist based in Aventura, FL
  • Amy Peterson is a celebrity aesthetician
  • Milena Nayadenov is 111SKIN’s global head of aesthetics and lead aesthetician

Is Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant Safe?

There are some treatments, like radio frequency, that we know could have an impact on a growing baby. Others, like lasers, haven’t been tested enough to know for sure.

111Skin’s global head of aesthetics and lead aesthetician Milena Naydenov explains that devices like radiofrequency are also off the table. “We do not recommend pregnant women to get any radiofrequency-based treatment, because it could interfere with the baby’s heartbeat,” Naydenov says. “We also don’t recommend lasers, as they have never never been tested on pregnant women.”

And can you blame anyone for not wanting to put their baby’s health to the test for some laser hair removal?

According to founder of Amy Peterson Skincare and Miami aesthetician, Amy Peterson, there are a lot of ingredients that we just don’t know a lot about in terms of how they might impact a pregnancy, and so most practitioners will resort to an abundance of caution. “As we know pregnancy is not something people want to risk,” Peterson says. “There’s nobody that’s going to say, ‘yes, test this product on me to see if it’s pregnancy-safe.’ In general, we know how ingredients behave, so if they pass into the bloodstream we know to avoid them.”

Though a laser won’t pass into your blood stream or directly interfere with your growing child’s heart, no one is ready to sign on the dotted line and swear it has no effect. And there probably isn’t going to be anyone willing to risk their pregnancy to prove it, either.

“I just would not do it,” says Charlotte, NC dermatologist Gilly S. Munavalli. “There are several medical and legal reasons.”

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

“Traditional laser hair removal systems relied on targeting the pigment (melanin) in the hair follicle,” explains New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD.

The problem was that patients with darker skin couldn’t use this method at all, and it made those with light or white hair unable to be candidates as well. As laser hair removal technology advanced, newer models opted for different wavelengths and to go deeper into the skin to remove hair without harming the surface of the skin.

Hormones May Make Laser Hair Removal Less Effective

Did you know your hair is hormone-sensitive?

You might have some idea that pregnancy can create pretty marked shifts in your hair—my mom actually got a brand new curl pattern after being pregnant with me—but those changes can also effect how we get rid of hair, too.

Hormonal hair growth, like the kind you get during pregnancy or if you have PCOS, can be particularly tough to treat with a laser.

“Lasers like Nd:YAG Lasers and some Diode lasers have longer wavelengths that can penetrate deeper into the skin, bypassing the melanin in the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and targeting the hair follicles more effectively,” explains Aventura, FL dermatologist Bertha Baum, MD.

In a person with hormonal imbalance, excess testosterone may prompt quick regrowth, meaning you’d need more treatments.

Can I Use At-Home Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant?

These days, there are a lot of fancy options for an at-home laser hair removal device, and you might be tempted to use it while pregnant. These devices are significantly less powerful than in-office options, after all. Again, while there aren’t any smoking gun studies that show this could cause a problem with your pregnancy, a dermatologist isn’t exactly going to recommend it either.

According to Dr. Munavalli, they may be even less effective due to those pregnancy hormones. “From a biological standpoint, hairs are hormone-sensitive so those devices would be even less likely to work in that setting,” Dr. Munavalli explains. “The patient /client would achieve less results per treatment than normal for those at home devices.”

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