Long story short: we recommend you wait until after your baby is born.
During pregnancy, the body goes through a lot of changes. Hormones are raging, feet get swollen, and body hair starts popping up in unexpected areas. This can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the stomach, breasts, and face. If that isn’t embarrassing enough, hair removal can be tricky when you’re pregnant. Once the belly gets to a certain size, shaving can be nearly impossible. While a lot of women these days prefer permanent hair removal options such as laser hair removal, many don’t know what’s safe and what’s not. Unfortunately, not enough research has been done on the subject to determine whether the procedure is safe during pregnancy or not. Here’s everything you need to know.
What Causes Excessive Hair Growth?
During the second trimester of pregnancy, the body’s hormones are unbalanced, leading to excessive body hair. Doctor Alyssa Dweck explains, “Hair growth or hirsutism in pregnancy is usually due to hormonal fluctuations — an increase in secretion of male hormones or androgens from the ovaries and placenta.” Fortunately, the body hair caused by pregnancy hormones doesn’t stick around and everything tends to go back to normal just six months after the baby is born.
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Using wavelengths of light, laser hair removal targets the melanin, or color, located in the hair follicle. This is why lasers work best when removing darker hairs such as under the arms and in the pubic area. Using today’s most advanced laser technology, the hair follicle can be destroyed without damaging the skin’s surface. A cryogenic coolant spray is used during each treatment to numb the area being treated and minimize discomfort.
Depending on the area being treated, your skin type, and skin color most people will need anywhere between five and ten laser sessions in order to achieve complete hair removal. After each treatment, the hair will go through the shedding process. Because body hair grows in cycles, the treatments will need to be spread out at a minimum of eight weeks apart.
See how laser hair removal treatments are performed in this video:
Is Laser Hair Removal Safe For Pregnant Women?
While laser hair removal and all FDA approved laser procedures have been deemed safe, there hasn’t been enough studies done on how pregnant women are affected. In 2017, the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology published content on the safety of laser cosmetic procedures and mentioned there weren’t enough studies performed on the effects on pregnant women to come to any conclusions. Even though lasers have been used to treat medical conditions like kidney stones and genital warts in pregnant women, it’s often suggested to wait until after the baby is born to partake in any laser cosmetic treatments.
Other Reasons to Wait For Laser Hair Removal
The fact that very little research has been done on the safety of pregnant women receiving laser hair removal treatments isn’t the only reason why it’s recommended to wait until the baby is born. Here are some other reasons to wait:
Pregnancy Causes Skin Hyperpigmentation
It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to experience skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation. Darkening of the skin decreases the contrast between the color of the skin and the body hair, making it harder for the laser to target the hair follicle. Not only does that mean the treatment is less likely to work, but it can end up costing you more when you need to buy more laser sessions.
Pregnancy Throws Off the Hair Growth Cycle
Being able to predict the hair growth cycle is a large part of what makes laser hair removal successful. The extra hormones released during pregnancy will throw off the hair growth cycle, making laser treatments less effective. Like skin hyperpigmentation, this can also end up costing you more as you’ll need more laser treatments.
Pregnancy Causes Extra Sensitivity
Pregnancy boosts the body’s blood supply and stretches out the skin on the abdomen and breasts. This makes the skin extra sensitive and tender to the touch, hardly making it an ideal time to have laser hair removal treatments. Even though numbing creams and cryogenic cooling systems can help make laser sessions more comfortable, it may still cause more discomfort while pregnant than it would otherwise.
While you will certainly be busy with a new baby, once you’ve healed from labor, you should treat yourself. Being a mom isn’t easy and you deserve to be pampered. Scheduling your laser hair removal every eight weeks forces you to get out of the house and have some time to yourself. Since laser treatments only take an average of twenty minutes, you can schedule a massage, trip to the salon, manicure, or anything else that makes you happy!