When women become pregnant, their bodies undergo a series of dramatic changes both inside and out. Outwardly, women often notice weight gain, changes in their skin, and even an increase in unwanted body hair. Increased body hair growth during pregnancy is usually due to hormonal changes; but understanding this change doesn't mean it's a welcome one. This is why some pregnant women find themselves seeking hair removal products and services even more so when they're pregnant than when they aren't. But are certain hair removal treatments like laser hair removal safe and effective for pregnant women to use? Read on to learn more about hair removal treatments and pregnancy.
Pregnant women experience more hair growth because of higher hormone levels, which can encourage hair to enter the resting phase and thus minimize the number of hairs that are due to fall out and begin regrowth. This makes hair appear thicker and more plentiful. On top of the head, this is a pleasant side effect. Elsewhere, the growth of coarse hair in new places, or an increase of hair in certain areas is far from desirable.
Most increased hair growth will taper off post pregnancy, but new hair growth on body areas like the upper lip, chin, breasts, and even the back and stomach might take longer to return to normal. This is why pregnancy might be a good time for re-evaluating your hair removal regimen, so that you can find just the treatment that works for you during pregnancy and afterwards. Today's most popular hair removal treatments include electrolysis, laser hair removal, shaving, tweezing, waxing and depilatory creams. But which methods are the most effective, the safest, and the most convenient for pregnant women?
This is probably the most permanent method of hair removal, but it is far from being the most convenient or the safest for pregnant women to use. This method requires that a needle be inserted into the hair follicle, and then an electric current passes through the needle to disable hair at the root.
In particular, electrolysis that utilizes galvanic current is not safe for pregnant women to use. This is because galvanic current passes through the body and back to the device, and it just so happens that the amniotic fluid surrounding an unborn baby can act as a conductor for this current. If a thermolysis current is used then it's possible the procedure won't directly affect the baby, but just to be sure, pregnant women should steer clear of electrolysis.
Laser Hair Removal: N/A
One of the other more permanent means of hair removal is laser hair removal. It also disables hair at the root, but accomplishes this through the laser's use of heat and light energy, which targets and destroys unwanted hair follicles. It doesn't include the convenience of at-home usage, and it has been known to cause some discomfort during application, but it's often considered worth it for the level of long-term results achieved. Most laser hair removal side effects are also reportedly minor, and are usually only temporary
When it comes to pregnant women using laser hair removal, it's hard to find any definite answers confirming the treatment to be safe or dangerous. According to the American Pregnancy Association, studies done on pregnancy and laser hair removal have been inconclusive in their findings, and not extensive enough to definitively prove whether treatment is harmful or safe. Because of the lack of certainty, most doctors advise that pregnant women shouldn't undergo laser hair removal.
However, some doctors have given consent for pregnant patients to undergo laser hair removal on certain areas like the face and legs (away from the stomach and breasts). They believe that there isn't enough evidence to prove laser hair removal is a threat to pregnant women, and if used on specific areas, treatment should cause no harm to the baby or the mother. If you are pregnant and considering laser hair removal, don't proceed with treatment before discussing the possible pros and cons at length with your doctor.
Arguably the most convenient method of hair removal available, shaving removes unwanted hair with a razor at the skin's surface. The only real problem with shaving might be the difficulty of performing it yourself as the baby grows, and the discomfort of maintaining the positions necessary to shave different body areas—especially when considering the frequency required with shaving!
Also very convenient, tweezing removes unwanted hair by plucking out individual strands with tweezers. This treatment method often loses points due to how time-consuming and inefficient tweezing can be for pregnant women with more dense hair growth areas. This method works best on stray facial hairs, and results last for about a week.
Waxing is a popular hair removal method because it's convenient, it's proven effective, and it is available in at-home kits and as a professional treatment. Hair removal wax also comes in a variety of substances and application methods, and it doesn't pose many major side effects.
Minor waxing side effects include bleeding, light bruising and possible skin infections. Probably the biggest factor against waxing is the pain that many report with usage. This doesn't mean that the wax hair removal method is a bad choice during pregnancy, it just means that on the whole, it could be very painful and it still may not guarantee the length of results that you're after.
Depilatory creams: N/A
Depilatory creams and products are typically very affordable and convenient. Their results are reported to last a couple of weeks, and they don't carry a high risk of side effects. As far as pregnant women are concerned however, they may not be the safest hair removal method to use. Because depilatory products contain powerful chemicals, there is a chance of absorption during usage that could be potentially harmful.
But like laser hair removal, there haven't been conclusive studies to prove that depilatories are definitely unsafe for pregnant consumers. If you are pregnant and wanting to use depilatory creams, you should, at the least, not use the products near the stomach or the breasts—depilatories should definitely not be used on the breasts post pregnancy either, as they can negatively affect breastfeeding.
It doesn't matter whether you are in the first, second or third trimester, you don't want to expose your body or your baby to anything potentially harmful during your pregnancy. That's why it's so important that you consult with your doctor and with a professional hair removal provider before undergoing treatment.
No matter whether you are considering laser hair removal or a professional wax, you will want to discuss all the possible side effects, the hair removal costs, and the details of treatment prior to choosing a procedure. A licensed aesthetic specialist will be able to inform you about all of these hair removal factors, and assess which treatments should promise the best and safest results for you.