Can I Get Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant?

Laser hair removal treatment


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As your baby bump grows, you may notice that it gradually gets more difficult to move around or bend over—especially in your third trimester. Activities that are quite literally as easy as tying your shoes gradually become more challenging and may require multiple heave-ho attempts.

Shaving your legs easily falls into this category. Because of this, many people have considered a more long-term fix while pregnant, like laser hair removal. But with all the dos and don’ts you have to follow during pregnancy, it’s easy to wonder if it’s safe to get laser hair removal while pregnant—on your legs, or anywhere, for that matter.

To find out, we tapped two board-certified dermatologists to weigh in on the topic. Read on to learn all about laser hair removal, including if it’s safe to have done while pregnant. We’re even sharing some hair removal tips for people who are pregnant or planning to be.

What Is Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is exactly what it sounds like—removing hair with a laser. Most commonly, people get this noninvasive treatment on their face, armpits, legs, pubic area, and trunk. And it’s pretty popular. Prior to the pandemic, over one million people got laser hair removal in 2019. (That number dropped slightly due to nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns that occurred in 2020.) It works by using highly concentrated light, or lasers, to remove hair.

“The pigment in the [hair] follicle is targeted,” says Mary P. Lupo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Lupo Center for Aesthetic & General Dermatology in New Orleans. ”When it absorbs the laser’s energy, it generates heat that permanently reduces the follicle.” This inhibits hair from growing, decreasing or eliminating it in the treated area. 

 However, it’s not a one-and-done kind of treatment. It only affects hairs that are in an active stage of growth. Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC explains, “It requires multiple treatments, and works best on darker, thicker hairs.” When the hair grows back, it will be lighter, thinner, and sparser.

 Laser hair removal also slows down hair growth, but it’s not necessarily a permanent solution. Some people require maintenance treatments periodically.

Is it Safe to Get Laser Hair Removal During Pregnancy?

If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, the question of whether or not something is safe may be a frequent flyer in your mind. And just like the murky, pregnancy-safe waters where things like tea tree oil reside, when it comes to getting laser hair removal while pregnant, there’s just not enough research to definitively confirm its safety one way or the other.

Whenever you’re faced with a conundrum such as this, the best course of action is usually to practice an abundance of caution—just in case—and speak with your healthcare provider.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about getting laser hair removal while pregnant.

Why You Should Not Get Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant?

The most important things to keep top of mind while you're pregnant are you and your little one’s health and safety. When we said there hasn’t been enough research on getting laser hair removal while pregnant, we admit, we were being generous. In fact, there have been no studies on the topic—zilch.

It may not have any effect on your baby. But, then again, it might. No one knows. And, just like you wouldn’t walk around blindfolded while pregnant, nor should you venture into a treatment when the science behind it lives in the dark.

Risks of Getting Laser Hair Removal While Pregnant

Although there’s no research into getting laser hair removal specifically while pregnant, there are potential risks that being pregnant can make you more susceptible to. Dr. Nazarian lets us in on why it is strongly discouraged.

“There are risks of complications, specifically skin burns, and given the altered hormonal state in pregnancy, this risk may be theoretically increased,” she shares. “There is also potential for the laser treatments to be less effective during pregnancy.” She stresses that the benefits are far outweighed by the risk of complications.

Other reasons to avoid getting laser hair removal while pregnant also involve the aforementioned pregnancy hormones. “If a burn occurs, you heal slower when pregnant and are more likely to hyper-pigment,” cautions Dr. Lupo. The latter makes sense seeing as how conditions like melasma (a.k.a. the pregnancy mask) tend to arise in pregnant people, as well as those who get hormone replacement therapy or take birth control pills.

The additional hormones flowing through their systems cause telltale signs of melasma to appear—grayish-brown or brown patches on the face. And anything that irritates your skin, like lasers or even harsh skincare products, can also leave dark marks.

Mary P. Lupo, MD

If a burn occurs, you heal slower when pregnant and are more likely to hyper-pigment.

— Mary P. Lupo, MD

When Can I Resume Getting Laser Hair Removal? 

Whether you’ve gotten laser hair removal in the past or are a newbie, it’s best to wait until you’re no longer pregnant and your hormones right themselves.

“Laser hair treatments can safely resume three months after delivery, when most hormone levels have normalized,” Dr. Nazarian advises. Even though, to you, you’re no longer pregnant immediately after giving birth, it takes your body a little longer to accept that fact and gradually reset itself.

Pregnancy-Safe Alternatives 

Alternatives to laser hair removal while pregnant are fairly simple—back to the basic tried-and-true techniques that have been around for millennia. Both Dr. Lupo and Dr. Nazarian recommend shaving, waxing, or plucking as your go-tos to get rid of unwanted hair. 

If you’re still in the pregnancy-planning phase, however, you could try this proactive, strategic approach. “[People] should consider initiation of laser treatment before pregnancy to make grooming and styling habits easier when they're pregnant.”

Get ahead of the pregnancy curve and start laser hair removal before you become pregnant, if you can. Just remember to give plenty of leeway as you’ll need multiple sessions. The time you need between each one varies on the area being treated, but it is generally a four-to-six week period. So, give yourself a healthy buffer, and start a few months before you expect to become pregnant.

A Word From Verywell

The answer to whether or not you can safely get laser hair removal while pregnant is an elusive one. Though it’s a popular cosmetic treatment to give yourself smooth, hair-free skin, there’s been no research on the subject in pregnant people. When in doubt, skip it. And always speak to your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns you may have.

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6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2021. Plastic Surgery Statistics Report 2020. Page. 8.

  3. American Pregnancy Association. 2021. Laser Hair Removal & Pregnancy.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology. 2021. Melasma: Who Gets & Causes.

  5. American Academy of Dermatology. 2021. Melasma: Signs & Symptoms

  6. American Academy of Dermatology. 2021. Laser Hair Removal: FAQs.