In recent years, our colorectal surgery practice has noticed an increase in questions about anal bleaching — what it is, how it works, whether it’s safe, and if it’s permanent.
And while we don’t perform the procedure at our clinic, we want to ensure our patients are well-informed on health-related concerns, so they can make the right decisions.
This is why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand how anal bleaching works and if it’s right for you. Let’s take a look.
What is anal bleaching?
Anal bleaching treatment is a cosmetic procedure that is used to lighten the color of the naturally darker skin around the anus. It can be done using a variety of methods, such as laser anal bleaching procedures, chemical peels, or topical lightening agents.
It is believed to reduce the appearance of dark spots or discoloration caused by age, hormonal changes, and other factors. It can also be used to make the anus look “cleaner” or more aesthetically pleasing.
Interestingly, there is no bleach involved in anal bleaching. You should never use bleach on your skin as it can be harmful. What’s more, the anus is not the only part of the body that can be “bleached”. Other areas include nipples, armpits, and genital areas.
Here, it’s important to be aware of a medical condition called acanthosis nigricans. It refers to dark patches of skin, most commonly in the armpits and groin area.
This condition can be a sign of an underlying health problem — such as diabetes or cancer — and should not be treated with laser treatments or skin-lightening products.
This is why it’s always a good idea to visit a board-certified dermatologist for professional advice before undergoing any type of bleaching procedure.
Who performs anal bleaching?
Most dermatologists (skin doctors) and cosmetic surgery centers can perform this procedure, although cosmetic professionals in spas or salons often do it.
It is important to note that not all professionals are trained in this procedure, and the results may vary depending on the person performing it.
This is why it’s crucial to research the provider before having the procedure done and make sure they are experienced in this type of treatment.
You can also perform this procedure at home, but the results are not as good and long-lasting as with professional treatment. That’s because at-home bleaching kits are weaker than professional-grade products.
How does anal bleaching work?
The exact technique used for anal bleaching varies depending on the provider and the desired results. But typically, it involves applying a lightening or whitening chemical to the skin.
The most common ingredients used are hydroquinone and kojic acid, which work together to inhibit the production of melanin, the dark skin pigment that gives your skin its color.
During the first session, a cream is applied to the anal area and left on for around 10 hours.
After a week, the provider checks whether there’s any irritation and if the skin tone is right. If everything is good, apply the bleaching cream twice a day and return after a month for a follow-up.
The procedure is not permanent and will need to be repeated in order to maintain the desired results.
Does anal bleaching hurt?
No, anal bleaching does not hurt. Most people experience minor discomfort or tingling during the procedure, but this is usually temporary and fades away after a few hours.
It is important to keep in mind that everyone’s pain threshold is different, so if you are worried about discomfort, it is best to talk to your provider about potential options.
For example, they may apply a mild numbing cream to the area before beginning the procedure.
Is anal bleaching safe?
Anal bleaching is generally a safe procedure. But again, this depends on how experienced your provider is and the quality of the skin-bleaching products they use.
With professional-grade treatments, the chemicals might be too strong and cause skin damage, such as burning or scarring. And if hygiene is not well-maintained, you may even develop skin infections.
If you go the DIY route and use an at-home bleaching product improperly, you can also develop permanent skin changes. And if the bleaching product comes into contact with the inside of your rectum, you may develop anal strictures as a result of scar tissue.
An anal stricture refers to a narrowing of the rectal passage — or anal stenosis in other words — which can be uncomfortable and cause difficulty with bowel movements. This is why consulting a professional before you begin any type of bleaching procedure is important.
How long does anal bleaching last?
The results of anal bleaching can last anywhere from a few weeks to months, depending on your skin type, lifestyle, and the type of treatment you received. To maintain the results, the procedure will need to be repeated every few months.
You may also want to avoid any activities that cause friction or skin irritation in the anal area, as they lead to increased pigment production and may warrant more frequent treatments. Examples include sex, waxing, shaving, running, and wearing tight clothes.
How to prepare for an anal bleaching session?
Before you go for your anal bleaching session, it’s important to avoid sex, hair removal, sweaty activities (like running and hot yoga), and tight underwear.
All of these can lead to friction and small tears in the anal area, increasing the risk of the treatment’s side effects.
How much is anal bleaching?
Anal bleaching cost varies widely and depends on the provider and technique used.
For professional treatments, a single session can range anywhere from $100 to $300 and more if you get laser anal bleaching. At-home kits usually cost around $50 to $100.
You should also account for potential follow-up sessions in order to maintain the desired results.
Anal bleaching: the bottom line
Anal bleaching is a cosmetic procedure that involves the use of lightening chemicals or laser treatment to reduce the darkening or discoloration of the perianal skin.
It is generally a safe procedure, but it is important to consult with a professional before undergoing the treatment and follow their instructions closely in order to prevent any potential side effects.
The results of the treatment can last anywhere from a few weeks to months, and additional sessions may be needed in order to maintain the desired results.
If you have any more questions about anal bleaching — or think you may have acanthosis nigricans — feel free to reach out to us. Again, we don’t perform the procedure at our clinic, but we may be able to refer you to someone who does.