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Can You Have Laser Hair Removal While Breastfeeding?

Can you have laser hair removal while breastfeeding?

It’s been four months since the birth of your baby. You’re doing well, and so is he! You’re getting into a rhythm, and life is starting to feel a bit normal. You even have time for some self-care – maybe some visits to the gym, maybe an occasional massage, maybe a shower! But you’re wondering if it’s okay to have laser hair removal while breastfeeding.

Good luck. There’s no evidence to confirm that laser hair removal while breastfeeding poses any particular risks for the woman or her baby. Yet, most laser hair removal centers refuse the procedure to a breastfeeding woman. Those that will do the procedure usually ask for a doctor’s note.

So what are they thinking? What’s the harm of having it done while breastfeeding? Let’s back up and look at the big picture.

How does laser hair removal work?

Laser hair removal works by a process called selective photothermolysis. That means that the laser light is used to heat up and selectively destroy the hair follicles on the skin.

Certainly, the light spectrum can be absorbed by the hair follicles and the skin. That might be uncomfortable for you – it’s a similar effect to a sunburn – but it doesn’t pose a risk to your baby. (And no one would ask you to get a doctor’s note before your trip to the beach, in spite of your exposure to light!)

Is breastfeeding a contraindication of laser therapy?

There are some contraindications to breastfeeding. Certain antibiotics and other drugs can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight and laser light, hyperpigmentation (including suntan), hypopigmentation, and possibly other skin-related issues. (For example, having a suntan may increase the risk of blistering and pigment change.) But I’ve looked at several leading expert sources, and breastfeeding is never mentioned as a contraindication.

Are there any studies about laser hair removal and breastfeeding?

No, there are no studies about laser hair removal and breastfeeding infants. Why would there be? There are no studies on the effects of a mother’s trip to a sunny beach on her breastfeeding infant, or – to think of another close-encounter of the mother’s skin with light – on blowing out the candles on a birthday cake! Yet two experiences/events are just as likely to cause harm to the breastfeeding baby as the laser treatment!

So what’s the hype?

Hyperpigmentation—During the childbearing cycle, hormones are more likely to cause hyperpigmentation of the skin (melasma). Hyperpigmentation may be an undesired effect in itself, but it also may cause some otherwise-invisible scarring to show.

Hair regrowth—It’s also possible that the hormones may cause the removed hair to grow back more quickly. It may be that it’s just not worth your while until you’re done breastfeeding.

Anesthetic—The other concern I’ve heard has to do with the topical anesthetic that is used in conjunction with laser therapy. There’s a chance that it may cause an allergic reaction for you, or for your baby.

The bottom line on laser hair removal while breastfeeding

There are no studies showing a risk of having laser hair removal while breastfeeding. The hype is more about the possible risks, or the waste of time and money. Want to get this done, anyway? Talk with your doctor.

Have you had laser hair removal while breastfeeding? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

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6 Comments

  1. Heather Smith

    This is such a great question and I think you have cleared every doubt that someone could have regarding getting a laser hair removal while breastfeeding. As you mentioned that there is no such studies that showed us any kind of side effects but in my opinion one should avoid getting treated with laser while breastfeeding to avoid any side effects. And if someone still wants to get treated then they should concern their doctor before taking any decision.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Heather, thank you for reassuring me that I’ve cleared every doubt! That’s the aim of this blog. But yes, the side effects, and the doctor conversations are important. Thank you for letting me know your thoughts.

  2. Jessica

    I had my baby girl February 2019 and I finally decided while I was out of work to start laser hair removal in July 2019. I did not have any lidocaine, however I was so happy with the results I decided to get more hair removal in different areas. These areas were so sensitive that I broke and had to have the numbing cream. ***side note I had to go to the dentist and everything I read and everything the dentist said was ok to nurse. *** my daughter has not had any issues or reactions. …. I am secretly scared or feel guilty that maybe there is some side affect later but I just think that I am over reacting.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh, Jessica, I think we all worry about those sorts of things. Good mothers are often hyper-vigilant, because they don’t want to bring any harm to their children. I wouldn’t call it “overreacting”. It’s just part of mothering. You may find it helpful to remember that there are very few situations that pose serious threats to nursing infants. Are they out there? Sure, absolutely! But everyday events like having some dental work done….try to have faith in your dentist’s reassurance. Thousands of nursing moms have dental work done. Meanwhile, congratulations on giving your baby a superfood and for being so careful to ask questions on her behalf.

  3. Katie

    I do want to do laser hair removal in the bikini part but at the same time I don’t want to waste $$ if the regrowth would be overwhelming since I’m breastfeeding. Welp!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      I think that’s the real key, Katie. Just knowing that you might be wasting dollars. Breastfeeding, even if you do it for an extended time, doesn’t last forever, so waiting might be the better choice for the moment. Thanks for reading, and kudos to you for breastfeeding your baby.

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