There are many reasons you might be considering tattoo removal while pregnant. Maybe you started your tattoo removal journey before you found out the news. Or perhaps you have an unwanted tattoo you’d like to see gone before you take your beautiful maternity photos.
Whatever the reason, an expectant person’s first thought while considering laser tattoo removal during pregnancy is, “Will this be safe for the baby and me?”
Read on to discover more about the science behind tattoo removal, potential risks and side effects for pregnant people, and frequently asked questions when considering tattoo removal while pregnant.
Can you get your tattoo laser removed while pregnant? The short answer is “no.” Laser tattoo removal is a complicated cosmetic process. Because of specific risk factors during pregnancy, we recommend you wait until after your baby’s birth to begin your laser tattoo removal process.
Laser tattoo removal works by firing a laser into your skin, where it breaks apart the ink particles of your unwanted tattoo. Once the particles break down into smaller, “bite-size” pieces, your white blood cells carry them away and absorb them.
You’ll need several sessions to fully break down the tattoo, with the number depending on factors like tattoo size, color, position, and ink composition. Doctors often recommend that you wait to have any invasive (invasive meaning “going under your skin”) procedure until after your pregnancy, just to ensure no harm is done to you or your baby.
Additionally, laser tattoo removal is a financial investment. While price depends on many factors, the average tattoo removal costs about $3,500. There are many costs associated with a new baby, and pregnancy might not be the best time to take on additional expenses.
Finally, tattoo removal requires a schedule. Each session will take place about six to eight weeks apart, with most people needing around 10 sessions to see complete results. This scheduling means that your laser tattoo removal sessions would occur during your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
As a new parent, the last thing you want to do is carry your newborn to another appointment! It can also be difficult to schedule around birth and early babyhood. Babies work on their own schedules. You might find yourself having to reschedule your sessions.
While the factors above are important, you might still be wondering, “But how risky is tattoo removal during pregnancy?”
How risky is it to get a tattoo removed while you’re pregnant? The real answer is, “We don’t know.” Because of many factors, there’s not a ton of research about the effects of tattoo removal on an expectant person and their baby.
But because of some known health factors during pregnancy and what we know about the science of tattoo removal, we can make some educated guesses and recommendations about why you should wait until after you give birth to pursue laser tattoo removal.
One of the main issues with getting a tattoo laser removed while pregnant is that scientists just don’t have enough data about the risks. Researchers don’t study pregnant people.
Dermatologists rarely experiment using cosmetic procedures. Expectant people are not studied for “elective” procedures like tattoo removal due to the risk to parent and baby, so there’s little data about what the risks could be.
This lack of research means we don’t know what could happen when it comes to laser tattoo removal.
Another problem with getting a tattoo removed while pregnant has to do with the technology of laser tattoo removal itself. Laser tattoo removal works by breaking up the tattoo ink into tiny particles that your body can then absorb.
Tattoo ink can contain many chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzopyrene, a carcinogen. Other ink formulations can include metal impurities like nickel, cobalt, copper, and chromium.
When you’re not pregnant, your immune system can filter out all of these potential toxins before the ink passes through your body. But there’s not enough research about what happens with these chemicals when you’re pregnant.
Currently, there’s no definitive proof that ink particles can’t cross the fetal placental barrier (the placenta is the barrier filtering things between parent and baby). This uncertainty means that the chemicals in the broken-down tattoo ink could negatively affect the expecting parent and baby.
One thing we do know about pregnant people — their skin is more sensitive than their non-pregnant counterparts. Pregnancy leaves you more vulnerable to common conditions like sunburn. It can also change your skin pigmentation itself.
This sensitivity means you’re more reactive to all forms of light, including lasers. Using laser tattoo removal during pregnancy could lead to scarring or skin discoloration.
Pregnancy also leaves people more susceptible to infection. This concern is especially true of the skin, which is constantly stretching and changing during pregnancy.
Though tattoo removal is extremely safe, and most people are unlikely to have any issues, there is a small chance of getting an infection. Doctors treat such infections with antibiotics, which leads to another concern. Doctors have difficulty treating pregnant people with antibiotics because some affect fetal development.
If you caught an infection during laser tattoo removal, it could be challenging to treat it in a safe way that would protect you and your baby.
Now that you know more about the possible risks, you might still have some questions. What are other frequent concerns people have when considering tattoo removal while pregnant?
If you’ve already begun your tattoo removal journey before finding out you’re pregnant, no worries! There are no adverse effects to pausing your tattoo removal sessions until you’re ready to start them again. You can work with your Removery consultant to reformat your removal schedule to fit your new lifestyle as a parent.
You may also be concerned that you unknowingly had a tattoo removal session while pregnant. There is a low chance that tattoo removal would hurt your baby, but if you’re concerned, remember to always talk to your doctor. They can help put your mind at ease!
There are several reasons not to use tattoo removal creams while pregnant (or ever). The first is that they aren’t effective. Because tattoo ink is deposited deep into layers of the skin, and a topical cream can’t absorb deep enough to truly “remove” the ink.
A second reason is that tattoo removal creams can damage everyone’s skin. At best, they will fade your tattoo a bit, leaving a distorted image. At worst, they could leave you with severe scars.
A final reason not to use these creams while pregnant — none of them are FDA approved, and they all contain chemicals like topical acids and preservatives. As noted above, we don’t know enough about chemical transference between parent and fetus. Using these creams could lead to exposing your baby to dangerous chemicals.
Like with pregnancy, most researchers don’t do studies on breastfeeding parents and children. The lack of research is because harmful chemicals and substances can easily transfer between parent and child through the milk, making tests risky.
Because of the lack of research, doctors recommended that breastfeeding parents wait until they stop breastfeeding to begin or continue the laser tattoo removal process.
Because of the reasons noted above, it’s best to wait until after your pregnancy to consider laser tattoo removal sessions. Due to various potential risk factors and many unknowns, it’s safest to wait until you’re enjoying your new baby to start scheduling those removal sessions.
But that doesn’t mean you have to wait to start planning. Contact a Removery consultant today to discuss your tattoo removal goals, your options, and how Removery can help you achieve your tattoo removal dreams.
We’re on a mission to give you the most straightforward, easy and efficient laser tattoo removal experience. Your estimate will be entirely bespoke to your tattoo; the size, the colours, the ink. It won’t take long and afterwards you’ll have a plan to finally get rid of your unwanted tattoo and get back to being you.