Laser Hair Removal and Breastfeeding

OK, folks, every time I think I’ve seen or heard it all, I haven’t!

A woman who is now 4 months postpartum is exclusively breastfeeding
her infant son. All is well with mother and baby. She wants to have
laser hair removal for the hairs on her chin. The people at the hair
removal place will not do it until she weans the baby, or until she
provides a written note from her doctor saying that it’s okay to have
the laser treatment!

Hmmmm. I wonder if she should be required to get a note from her
doctor before she sits out in the sun, or blows out the candles on
her birthday cake! Because those two things are just as likely to
cause harm to the breastfeeding baby as the laser treatment!

I think I can explain it like this: 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 also the skin. So holding a match over your chin
would expose your skin to light, too, and the heat could be absorbed
by the skin! The mother who gets a sunburn on her chin (i.e., a
first-degree skin burn) might be uncomfortable, but she is not
endangering her breastfeeding infant! No one would ask a
breastfeeding mother to get a doctor’s permission before she goes out
in the sun. Why then, should laser removal of chin hairs require a
doctor’s permission?

No, there are not any studies on the relationship between laser
removal of chin hair and harm to a breastfeeding infant. Why would
there be? It would be ludicrous, and an incredible waste of money to
conduct such a study!

Several credible sources list contraindications to laser removal of
body hair. Among these are certain antibiotics and other drugs that
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. Breastfeeding is never

Let’s all just try to keep in mind that breastfeeding is a NORMAL
function. In the absence of studies to show that something is safe
during breastfeeding, let’s use some common sense.

Marie Biancuzzo, RN MS IBCLC

Author. Educator. Speaker. Nurse. Online radio host.

Resources to support breastfeeding mothers, nurses, lactation consultants, other care providers —see my shop for all of your breastfeeding and lactation education needs, or visit this site for free podcasts and more.

9 thoughts on “Laser Hair Removal and Breastfeeding

  1. meher

    It’s not about the treatment’s affect on the mother or the baby. I asked my doc the same thing and she explained that while breastfeeding, harmones fluctuate drastically. Therefore, the hair grows back and the treatment is not as effective. It is just a way of saving your laser treatment money. Get it done when your harmones are not raging(when the baby is completely weaned off) so that the treatment lasts.

  2. A

    The hormones cause a greater chance of hyper pigmentation (like melasma). Also, if you elect to use the topical anesthetic, the medication can be excreted in breast milk. A small amount yes, but enough to trigger a reaction if your baby has an allergy to the medication.

  3. Julie

    As a previous person mentioned, it’s due to the hormones and it affecting the healing process. I’ve heard about many people who have done facial lasers during breastfeeding that have do more work on their facies after the laser to remove hyperpigmentation or scarring. I know this because I was going to get laser removal for my semi-permanent eyebrow tattoo (when I was EBF) but was soon educated about the risks.

  4. Jazzey

    What about IPL at home while breastfeeding? I have Lumea Philips so unless my skin gets darker or spotted I don’t see a problem?!

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