Whether planned or unexpected, pregnancy brings a lot of changes into one’s life. If you are going through a laser treatment, you may wonder whether your treatment will be affected. You may also experience unusual hair growth during your pregnancy, tempting you to try permanent hair removal. Can pregnant women undergo laser hair removal though?
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal is a long-term hair growth reduction method. The FDA does not qualify it as permanent. Indeed, a laser treatment will reduce hair growth by up to 95%. However, a lot of patients do indeed experience permanent removal.
Laser hair removal relies on selective photothermolysis. It is a precise microsurgery technique used to target tissue in a specific area. It matches the specific wavelength of light and heats the tissue and destroys it with a laser without affecting or damaging surrounding tissue.
In the context of a laser therapy, the light targets the pigment in the hair.
The laser will emit light energy. Once absorbed by the melanin in the hair, the energy will travel to the hair follicle. There it will turn into thermal energy. It is that heat that will damage the follicle, thus preventing any further growth.
The procedure only works when the hair is actively growing. This happens in the anagen phase of growth. Indeed, it is the only time the hair and follicle connect. Any other time the energy cannot travel from the former to the latter. Unfortunately, only 20% of all body hair is in the anagen phase of growth at any point in time.
Thus, one laser session can only target up to 20% of hair on the chosen area. This explains why laser packages always include at least six sessions. After four sessions, at least 60% of the hair will have been treated. Waiting six weeks between sessions will give the hair time to move into the right stage of growth.
Is laser hair removal safe?
Whether pregnant women can undergo laser hair removal or not depend on whether it is safe or not. Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure involving laser machines. Just like any other treatment, it has risks and potential side effects. However, those are rare.
Possible risks of laser hair removal include minor burns, hyperpigmentation on dark skin, hypopigmentation on light skin, redness and irritated skin. Other more serious consequences include sun damage and major burns.
However, the likeness of negative side-effects significantly reduces when the service is performed by a certified laser technician and when patients listen to pre and post-care recommendations.
Patients must avoid the sun and UV rays before and after their treatment. A physical sunblock with SPF 30 is essential too, especially if you cannot avoid exposure to the sun. The skin is sensitive after a treatment and thus more vulnerable to sun damage.
Patients need to shave at least three hours prior to their laser session. Their skin must be cleaned off of any lotion, makeup or cream. After the session, patients must not go to the gym or take a hot shower for at least 24 hours.
Following guidelines will ensure the treatment is as safe as it can be and reduce the likeliness of side effects.
Can pregnant women undergo laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal is safe.The FDA approved laser hair removal as a hair removal method back in 1990. However, since then, no research has been conducted to conclude whether laser hair removal can have adverse effects on pregnant women.
The journal Lasers In Gynecology published a study on the effects of laser procedures in pregnant rats. Results showed adverse effects. However, nothing confirms whether laser hair removal has adverse effects on pregnant women.
Thus, it is the absence of research and the lack of availability of information on the negative consequences of laser hair removal on pregnant women that explains why doctors suggest postponing the procedure until after the delivery.
Since we do not know what effect could laser treatments have on the fetus, it is better to be safe. Pregnant women should thus avoid carrying one with their treatment or starting a new one. Regardless of whether you wish to treat your face or bikini, it is just better to stay on the safe side of things.
Hair removal for pregnant women
Since laser hair removal is unavailable to pregnant women, patients may still want to find an alternative. Electrolysis should not be used during pregnancy either. Remains waxing, shaving and using depilatory creams.
However, hair removal may be a very tricky business while you are expecting. Pregnant women experience intense hormone changes, which will impact their hair growth cycle. Pregnancy hormones delay the final phase of the hair growth cycle, the telogen phase. Thus, the hair does not fall out as quickly.
That is why some women may notice thicker, fuller hair growth or new hairs appearing in places where they did not appear before. Pregnant women can expect their hair growth to go back to normal six months after giving birth.
Shaving is the safest hair removal option for pregnant women. Thus, patients should consult a doctor before trying anything else. Depilatory creams are very harmful to the skin. Using a product that is so packed with chemicals may not be advised during pregnancy.
Because pregnancy disrupts the hair growth cycle so much, it may be easier to just wait after giving birth before removing unwanted body hair. Indeed, it is not worth struggling with hair that will grow back quickly and take longer to shed.
The skin is also much more sensitive during pregnancy. Thus, even a wax may feel even more painful than usual. That is why pregnant women should wait before removing their body hair.
Laser hair removal while breastfeeding
There are no studies on the effects of laser hair removal on pregnant women and fetuses. The same goes for breastfeeding and nursing. Medical professionals generally accept that laser hair removal is safe while breastfeeding. However, some experts advise against getting the procedure on your chest.
Laser hair removal is generally fine while breastfeeding as long as it is not done on the areola or breast tissue. However, patients must be mindful of using numbing agents. Indeed, these medications travel through the skin to the blood. It has happened that traces of numbing agents were found in breast milk.
Safety comes first. During pregnancy, the health of the mother is primordial. The fetus must develop well. Thus, it is safer to postpone any laser hair removal treatment until after pregnancy and breastfeeding.