What is low dose laser therapy? - Low level laser therapy is a safe form of light/heat treatment under investigation for a variety of health indications. It is being used to treat the genetic forms of hair loss common in men and women, androgenetic alopecia or pattern balding. Low level laser therapy is also called red light therapy, cold laser, soft laser, biostimulation and photobiomodulation.
Pattern balding - Androgenetic alopecia can affect up to 70% of men (male pattern balding) and 40% of women (female pattern balding) at some point in their lifetime. While men typically present with a distinctive alopecia pattern involving hairline recession and vertex balding, women normally exhibit a diffuse hair thinning over the top of their scalps. For both men and women, losing their hair is a frustrating experience. The current treatment standard for pattern balding is therapy with minoxidil and finasteride, with hair transplantation as a surgical option. However, low level laser treatment for hair loss is now also promoted as a safe alternative or additional treatment.
Low level laser therapy for pattern balding - Laser therapy used for hair loss treatment depends on devices that emit a light that can penetrate the scalp. Excimer (308 nm), helium-neon (632.8 nm), and fractional erbium-glass (1550 nm) lasers have been used. Low level laser therapy (LLLT) uses devices with diodes that emit red light (wavelength 630-670 nanometers), or infrared radiation, available as:
* in-salon hoods or overhead panels
* bonnet or head caps
* hand-held devices
Laser Hair Growth System with diode red lights and infrared laser was cleared for marketing in 2016. It is a head cap indicated to promote hair growth in females with androgenetic alopecia who have Ludwig-Savin Classifications of I- II, males who have Norwood-Hamilton Classifications of lla- V and for both, Fitzpatrick Classification of Skin Phototypes I to IV.
How is laser hair therapy supposed to work? - The hair growth cycle consists of three phases: growth (anagen phase), resting (telogen phase) and shedding (catagen phase). Hair loss in androgenetic alopecia depends on a testosterone derivative in the skin, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Low level laser therapy is believed to increase blood flow in the scalp and stimulate metabolism in catagen or telogen follicles, resulting in the production of anagen hair. In theory:
* The photons of light act on cytochrome C oxidase leading to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is converted to cyclic AMP in the hair follicle cells, releasing energy and stimulating metabolic processes necessary for hair growth.
* Release of nitric oxide from cells leads to increased vascularisation to the scalp distributing nutrients and oxygen to the hair roots.
* Excessive build-up of DHT is prevented.
Benefits of laser therapy for hair loss
* Low level laser thereapy can be used in both men and women
* No adverse effects have been reported
* It is clean and painless
* Low level laser hair therapy is relatively inexpensive
* It requires minimal time commitment
* Some low level laser therapy devices are portable
* Hair growth may occur on the top of the head/crown and along the hairline of forehead
* Improvement is reported in at least some users after 12 to 26 weeks of use, with reduced hair fall and noticeable hair growth.