Answer to Question #13003 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Pregnancy and Radiation

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


I am a dermatologist and use a laser for skin procedures. I just found out that I am pregnant and am concerned about using the laser during pregnancy. Is it safe to keep using the laser during pregnancy?


The short answer to your concern is that there are no restrictions or hazard from working with lasers during your pregnancy so your use of the laser during pregnancy is safe. The laser you are using is called a neodymium:YAG, or Nd:YAG laser, which is a type of laser made with several metals (yttrium and aluminum) and a garnet gemstone; hence the acronym YAG. This type of laser (Q switched rather than continuous wave) produces light at an infrared wavelength for deep skin lesions and a greenish wavelength used for surficial skin lesions.

There is a difference between the wavelengths produced by your laser and ionizing radiation which does have specific regulatory limits for pregnant women. The laser you use produces an intense focused beam of light yet does not cause any health or developmental hazards to the fetus. Unlike ionizing radiation, most types of laser lights used in medical procedures do not penetrate deeply. The infrared portion of the Nd:YAG laser can cause skin burns only as a result of direct exposures over an acute period of time.

In summary, the neodymium:YAG laser is safe to use during pregnancy. Any information you have heard to the contrary is a result of the word "radiation."

Kenneth Barat
Certified Laser Safety Officer

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 16 July 2019. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.