Can I Get Laser Skin Resurfacing During Pregnancy?

Women getting laser skin resurfacing

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Your body is epicholly transformed when you’re pregnant—especially as the floodgates to your pregnancy hormones fly open. While it’s necessary for the healthy development of your baby, some changes may not be so welcomed.

Case in point: It’s extremely common to notice certain skin conditions popping up during pregnancy. These can range from discolorations like melasma to texture changes such as stretch marks or even acne breakouts.

And while the decision to address them with certain skincare treatments, such as laser skin resurfacing, likely takes little thought before you’re pregnant—beyond how much free time you have and what’s in your wallet. During pregnancy, every decision you make regarding your body has the potential to affect both you and your baby.

When faced with the seemingly endless catalogue of things to avoid while pregnant, it can be hard to know what’s a go vs. no-go. Even seemingly innocuous skincare, like retinol and tea tree oil, can potentially pose serious dangers to your unborn child.

So, when in doubt, ask the pros—which is exactly what we did. We tapped two board-certified dermatologists to help explain all about laser skin resurfacing, including what it is, what it does, and whether or not it’s safe to get laser skin resurfacing during pregnancy.

What Is Laser Skin Resurfacing?

Laser skin resurfacing is a minimally-invasive, in-office cosmetic skincare treatment also known as a laser peel, lasabration, or laser vaporization. It’s used to reduce the appearance of a wide range of skin issues from lines and wrinkles to discolorations and scars.

“[This type of] skin resurfacing uses laser energy to powerfully stimulate the production of collagen to treat signs of sun damage, like fine lines to moderately deep wrinkles, enlarged pores, textural changes, hyperpigmentation, scars, and stretch marks,” shares Blair Murphy-Rose, a board-certified dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery of New York in NYC.

She goes on to explain that the laser causes controlled microscopic injuries while removing your surface layers of skin. As it heals, your skin responds by generating new collagen under your fresh layers of skin, which helps remodel the treated area and quite literally resurface your skin. 

Although laser resurfacing can be performed anywhere on your skin, it’s particularly useful for treating delicate areas such as the skin around your eyes, mouth, or forehead. This is because the laser uses short, pulsating beams of light to precisely remove irregular skin, one layer at a time. 

Results of laser skin resurfacing vary person to person, depending on the intensity of the treatment and the length of healing time. Some people see an immediate improvement in their skin, with continued improvement for up to a year, while others may take five to seven days to recover. No matter the course, it’s not a permanent solution, and retreatment is usually required every few years. 

Is It Safe to Get Laser Skin Resurfacing During Pregnancy?

We get it, the idea of smoother, firmer skin can be tempting, particularly when you’re dealing with new pregnancy-induced skin concerns. But, unfortunately, research is limited as to whether or not it’s safe to get laser skin resurfacing during pregnancy. So, it may be best to hold off on until your little one arrives.

"It is not recommended to undergo laser skin resurfacing while pregnant,” Dr. Murphy-Rose says. “And it is recommended to always avoid cosmetic laser procedures, [especially] during the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is the highest.”

Though, she admits, there are some healthcare providers out there who will perform the treatment on pregnant people—or even get it themselves in their second or third trimester. But the majority recommend postponing it until after delivery.

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

Why You Should Not Get Laser Skin Resurfacing During Pregnancy

Whenever any potential benefits outweigh the risks of a given treatment—even unknown ones—it’s probably best to take a pass. “While it is not believed that laser skin resurfacing will harm a fetus, there is not sufficient data available to show that it is safe,” cautions Dr. Murphy-Rose. “Given all of the many variables in pregnancy, and because laser resurfacing is not necessary, it is wise to wait until you are no longer pregnant.” 

After all, though each month of pregnancy may feel like an eternity, it’s only a temporary state. And with all that comes with preparing and caring for a new baby—even if this isn’t your first time around—there are other pregnancy-safe options you can try to help improve your skin concerns. (More on those in a bit.) First, let’s go over some risks that come along with laser skin resurfacing—pregnant or not. 

Risks of Laser Skin Resurfacing During Pregnancy

With every in-office cosmetic treatment comes the potential for side effect risks. And laser skin resurfacing is no exception. Generally, they mimic a mild to severe sunburn—again, according to the intensity of treatment and the skin’s reaction to it—and cause some redness and swelling. In more intense cases, blistering may occur, which shouldn’t be picked to prevent scarring and undoing all that laser resurfacing magic.

For pregnant people, laser skin resurfacing can pose further risks due to the influx of hormones. “Resurfacing has issues of delayed healing and the risk of hyperpigmentation,” explains Mary P. Lupo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Lupo Center for Aesthetic & General Dermatology in New Orleans. This could make the treatment less effective, recovery more drawn out, and ultimately counterproductive, especially if a blister forms.

Deeper skin tones are especially at risk, as they tend to be more susceptible to cell damage and discoloration after laser treatment—though, depending on the device used, the risk can be mitigated in non-pregnant people.

There are also ancillary risks that are possible when getting laser skin resurfacing during pregnancy. “It is wise to avoid topical numbing agents while pregnant,” Dr. Murphy-Rose advises. “Since some of the anesthetic will be absorbed into your bloodstream.” 

Numbing formulas, like lidocaine, are considered . This is because, although it’s known to cross the placenta in animal studies, there have been no well-controlled or adequate studies on using lidocaine in pregnant people. Translation: The subsequent effect on your baby is unknown.

When Can I Resume Getting Laser Skin Resurfacing? 

If laser skin resurfacing is not recommended while pregnant, yet generally considered safe when performed properly on non-pregnant people, it stands to reason that the best time to resume (or start) getting it is after your baby is born.

“It is best to resume laser skin resurfacing after delivery,” confirms Dr. Murphy-Rose. “[It] can have many skin benefits for patients after pregnancy, including treatment of hyperpigmentation, like melasma, and improving stretch marks.” Since those are two common skin conditions you may develop while pregnant, it may just be best to get the treatment when you may need it most. 

Just be sure to be diligent with sunscreen, as your healing skin can make you more susceptible to real sunburn and the resulting photodamage. Dr. Murphy also recommends being gentle with your skin, keeping it hydrated, and babying it as you would, well, your baby.

Pregnancy-Safe Alternatives 

Of course, being pregnant—and parenthood, in general—is all about getting creative. Just because you should hold off on laser skin resurfacing during pregnancy, that doesn’t mean your skincare has to take a backseat. There are ways you can’t help your skin look its best and get on top of any pregnancy skin concerns. The following are all considered safe when used as directed.

Laser Genesis

If you’re still in the mood for a little in-office pampering that can help improve your skin concerns, dermatologists, like Dr. Lupo, have some tricks up their sleeve: “We do Laser Genesis, since [it leaves] no surface wound,” she shares. 

Laser Genesis is a laser that’s on the milder side, with minimal to no downtime, and only treats the top layers of skin. It’s best for improving the look of superficial skin concerns, like light discolorations and fine lines.

DiamondGlow

DiamondGlow can have results that are similar to Laser Genesis, but, rather than a laser, it uses a diamond-tipped wand to gently exfoliate your skin while also infusing it with nutrients. For pregnant people, Dr. Lupo suggests a way to get it that is totally noninvasive: “DiamondGlow, with just hydration.” Y

ou have the option to customize your treatment and only go for the intense hydration, which can help plump the appearance of fine lines and give your skin a youthful, radiant, healthy-looking glow.

Alpha-Hydroxy & Beta-Hydroxy Acids

You can also choose from a wide range of alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids, known as AHAs and BHAs. These skin-loving acids offer a host of benefits similar to laser skin resurfacing—plus, they can be safely used by pregnant people.

“Glycolic acid and lactic acid peels are excellent alternatives to laser resurfacing during pregnancy,” boasts Dr. Murphy-Rose. (These naturally-occurring acids are found in sugar and milk, respectively.) “AHA peels can help with hyperpigmentation and acne, and they stimulate collagen to prevent fine lines.” Though, she adds, to a lesser degree than lasers. 

Another AHA, azelaic acid, comes from Malassezia furfur and is present within rye, barely, whole grains, and various animal products. It also works well on acne and other inflammatory conditions such as rosacea.

You can find AHAs and BHAs in a breadth of over-the-counter skincare products, like Paula’s Choice Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($30), which stars both glycolic and lactic acids, along with other topical alpha-hydroxys. Naturium Azelaic Acid Emulsion 10% ($22) also offers skin-smoothing and brightening benefits similar to laser skin resurfacing.

A Word From Verywell

Laser skin resurfacing can be an effective, minimally-invasive in-office treatment for a wide range of skin concerns having to do with tone, texture, and acne. That said, you may want to hold off on getting laser skin resurfacing during pregnancy due to the lack of research into its effect on pregnant people and their babies.

However, there are pregnancy-safe alternatives out there, like the mild Laser Genesis, hydrating DiamondGlow exfoliating wand, and over-the-counter skincare, that are safe to use while pregnant. To be sure, though, before starting any treatment or using any new ingredient while pregnant, always run it by your healthcare provider first.

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11 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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