In all fields of medicine, lasers have become very popular. Therefore, it is not unusual that they are finding their effective application in the treatment of hair loss both in men and women. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), called also red light therapy, stimulates cellular activity, showing beneficial effects for a variety of medical conditions such as in wound healing, nerve regeneration, relief of joint pain, and eczema.
LLLT is painless administered at home, where it is effective in the majority of patients with androgenetic alopecia. As a treatment for hair loss, LLLT has several proposed mechanisms of action. It is presumed to stimulate the re-entry of telogen follicles into anagen (the growth phase), prolong the duration of the anagen phase, and increase the rate of cell division in active anagen hair follicles. On a mitochondrial (cellular) level, LLLT stimulates the mitochondria resulting in an increase in the metabolic processes necessary for hair growth, which can also lead to increased vascularization of the scalp and the supply of nutrients delivered to hair roots.
Low level laser therapy can provide a benefit to both men and women suffering from genetic baldness, where it seems to benefit as many as 70% of patients. We have found it to be particularly beneficial in cases where there is hair shedding, and in post-menopausal women, and in women with diffuse miniaturization of the hair follicles. In addition, according to some studies, it appears that LLLT improves a variety of non-scarring alopecias (alopecia areata and chemotherapy induced alopecia). On the other hand, the excimer (308nm) laser has shown to be effective in treatment of cicatricial alopecias.
LLLT can be administered at home, using a variety of portable “cap” units. While a specific treatment plan is provided to each patient, in general the therapy is performed three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes for the first six months, after which it can be decreased to once or twice a week for maintenance. Besides having no side effects, what is particularly nice about laser therapy is that if it is discontinued, rather than a rapid shedding of the hairs that the therapy was responsible for keeping around, the hair loss will slowly restart. LLLT can also be used after hair restoration surgery to expedite the healing process and enhance viability and earlier growth of the grafts. Patients report thicker and shinier hair after continuous laser therapy. No adverse effects have been reported and treatment itself is painless.
The LLLT devices (wavelength 630-670 nm) available include:
In-salon hoods- Revage 670
Hand held devices- Laser Comb
Head caps – I Grow, Laser Cap, Capillus
Because the head caps are more powerful and thus more effective than the Laser Comb, and as effective as In-Office hoods but with the convenience of home use, they constitute the great majority of devices used by patients. Today the most popular device is the LaserCap, which features 272 true laser diodes, and can be concealed inside of a hat or scarf. Patients can use it in the car, or while watching TV or reading.