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 concerns 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."
Certified Laser Safety Officer