How much numbing cream is safe to use at a time for laser hair removal?

I'm a male with fair skin and dark hair. I have quite a lot of coarse body hair, which I recently purchased an at-home IPL hair removal device for. I would like to pre-treat with EMLA 5% lidocaine, but read about overdose & deaths in my research. My question is: What's the safest amount of area to apply it to at a time? One whole leg? I'm rather thin and 5'7, so one leg wouldn't be too much surface area. I would do a different body part each day this way for overdose safety. Thank you!

Doctor Answers 4


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An 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper size is usually ok, but I wouldn't recommend applying any of this at home. Lidocaine toxicity is very dangerous and potentially deadly. Your provider should be able to apply a safe amount of lidocaine for you at the office.

Columbus Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Dosing topical EMLA

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The typical adult dose of EMLA is 2.5 to 10 grams. It would be advisable not to exceed this. Most likely you will need to do half leg at a time ( thigh separate from lower leg). Extremities and torso we usually wait 6 to 8 weeks between sessions, face/bikini/underarms 4 weeks.


Lisa Vuich, MD

Lisa Vuich, MD
Nashua Physician
4.7 out of 5 stars 11 reviews


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Lidocaine can be potentially dangerous especially if applied to larger areas for longer periods of time or occluded with a plastic wrap. In general, it is best to have it applied at the clinic unless your provider gives you explicit instructions for home use. I do not advise using this at home. A trained physician is the best person to be using Lidocaine.  Please see a physician for laser hair removal treatment.

Hardik Soni, MD (not currently practicing)
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician

Lidocaine and Hair Removal

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I suggest you speak to your physician.  There is no guideline on the amount of lidocaine that can be used to treat these areas. Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 207 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.