May 19th, 2017 Written by a Staff Member of Hair Loss in Women
What is Low-Level Laser Light Therapy?
Also known as cold lasers, low-level laser light therapy (LLLT) devices produce no heat, so they won’t burn your or damage your skin. Low-level laser is an exciting option for women dealing with hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia, and has been used postoperatively for hair transplant patients to speed recovery and expedite hair growth. It’s FDA approved, and studies such as one published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, concludes that LLLT are both safe and effective. Other studies have shown that it can be effective in regrowing hair.
Does Low-Level Laser Therapy for Hair Work?
According to hairfoundation.org, the first discovery regarding the hair regrowth potential of low-level lasers was in 1967 in Hungary. A scientist was studying the effects of lasers in treating skin cancer in mice, and found that the group of mice that received low-level laser treatment to their shaved backs grew their hair back more quickly.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Dermatology,Volume 5, Number 2, 2003:
“The authors wished to confirm the efficacy of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) using a HairMax LaserComb for the stimulation of hair growth and also to determine what effect LLLT with this device had on the tensile strength of hair. Thirty-five patients, 28 males and 7 females, with androgenetic alopecia (AGA) underwent treatment for a six-month period. Both the hair counts and tensile strength of the hair were affected very beneficially in both sexes in the temporal and vertex regions with the males and vertex areas showing the most improvement.”
Other studies, such as one published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology have found similar positive results.
According to Dr. Marc Avram, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, in an article published in the LA Times, “In fact, a small percentage of people who undergo laser hair removal end up with more hair than they had to start with.”
At higher intensities, hair removal is a popular use for laser therapy. But at a lower intensity, some people are able to regrow hair. Laser therapy for hair growth appears to do several things:
- increase blood and lymph circulation to the hair follicles,
- decrease inflammation (some people use it for joint pain)
- increase microcirculation
LLLT can be used with other hair regrowth treatments, such as minoxidil or finasteride (Propecia).
Are You a Candidate for Low-Level Laser Therapy For Hair?
Find out what’s causing your hair loss by talking to a dermatologist. There are many causes of hair loss, and it’s important that you find out what’s causing your thinning hair.
The best candidates for laser therapy are those dealing with the most common cause of hair loss in women, androgenetic alopecia, and with hair loss rated on the Ludwig scale of I-4, II-1, II-2, or frontal hair loss:
So far, LLLT has yet to prove to be effective for women with hair loss past III on the Ludwig scale. If your hair loss is at advanced stages, you may want to talk to your dermatologist about getting a hair transplant.
They should also have Fitzpatrick skin types I to IV:
It may be a good option for you for several reasons. It’s non-invasive, painless, has no negative side effects, and relatively inexpensive.
How is Low-Level Laser Therapy For Hair Administered?
There are a few ways that you can get laser light therapy for hair regrowth: at a salon, at a skin and hair care professional’s office, or you can buy a unit to use at home.
The units are usually a “brush” or a hood that covers your head. They are considered “cold” lasers because there is no heat. Some users report a slight tingling sensation. Treatments generally last 7-15 minutes, and the recommendation is to have treatments two to three times per week, for at least 6 months.
Another option is to use a hand-held laser that you wave over your scalp for 15-20 minutes. These units are cheaper, but your arm will tire. Also, you’re only applying the laser to a small part of your scalp at a time, giving you less exposure overall. You also run the risk of an inconsistent exposure. Additionally, many handheld devices are not as powerful as the hood units. However, they’re much cheaper than the hood units.
The recommendation that you use low-level laser therapy for several months on a regular basis to see if it works for you.
Is Low-Level Laser Therapy For Hair Safe?
As of 2007, the FDA claims that laser light therapy is safe and has no adverse side effects.
If you are taking any drugs that cause photosensitive reactions (an abnormally high reaction to sun or other radiant light), you may want to not use laser therapy. Another option is to patch test a small area to check for reactions. Also, people who are using topical or systemic steroids, or NSAIDS for pain or skin conditions may want to avoid laser therapy.
Have you used laser therapy for hair loss? How did it go? Please comment below.