Low-Level Laser Therapy, or LLLT, treatment for hair loss has gone high tech. This innovative and new therapy for thinning and hair loss has created quite a buzz recently, particularly with the launch of devices that make it possible to perform LLLT therapy at home. Many men and women suffering from hair loss have heard of LLLT, but there is a lack of credible information available about its benefits. This guide was designed to provide you with unbiased information and answers to your questions regarding LLLT.
What Is LLLT?
LLLT stands for low-level laser light therapy and is a method of stimulating the scalp in order to promote hair growth. The therapy involves the use of concentrated red light that is delivered either by an actual laser or an LED emitter. Currently, LLLT is performed in clinical settings like doctors' offices and outpatient clinics. There are also LLLT devices that are FDA cleared for home use. These include laser combs and laser helmets.
How Does Red Light Affect the Skin?
The length of space between the waves of red light gives it unique properties that scientists have been studying for years. When the skin is exposed to concentrated red light, it absorbs the energy that it gives off. Something must be done with the excess supply of energy, and as a result, the exposure to light prompts the tissue in the treated area to change. This phenomenon is called photobiomodulation.
How Does LLLT Treat Hair Loss?
It's important to understand that LLLT was actually discovered entirely by accident. A scientist working with red light lasers in Hungary in 1967 discovered light's ability to promote hair growth when experimenting on mice. He had treated one group of mice with a red light laser for an unrelated condition and did not treat a second group. Both groups of mice had been shaved as a part of the experiment. The mice that had been exposed to the light experienced a faster rate of hair regrowth than the mice that were untreated.
Since the 1967 study, scientists have duplicated the accidental findings of that first study in other animals and in humans. While it's clear that photobiomodulation can support hair growth, scientists are still working to determine exactly how it works. The dominant theory is that the energy given on by the enervated tissue causes a chemical reaction that makes hair cells grow in the hair follicles. There is also some evidence that developing hair cells that have been marked to die as a part of natural turnover shift out of the death phase when exposed to red light.
One thing that is not a factor in LLLT therapy is heat. Whether a laser or LED light is used for the therapy, the light given off does not create a feeling of heat. This means that there is no burning or discomfort to the skin during treatment and allows for the safe use of LLLT devices at home.
LLLT Devices Are FDA-Cleared. Is that the Same as Being FDA Approved?
Many people grow confused about the nature of U.S. Food and Drug Administration terminology. FDA approval means that the administration has carefully reviewed a product and established that it is safe and effective. The FDA approves only prescription and over-the-counter medications and major medical devices like those used to perform surgery.
A device like a laser comb or a laser helmet does not require full approval from the FDA and will not be evaluated with the same level of scrutiny as a medication for hair loss might. Still, the manufacturer of the device must submit information about the laser device that the FDA reviews. When the FDA determines that the product works similarly to other established devices that are already sold on the market, it receives FDA clearance. This means that the FDA has released it for sale but it does count as a mark of approval from the agency.
Is LLLT Effective for Hair Loss?
While results of any hair loss treatment can vary, LLLT has been demonstrated as effective in scientific studies. Many plastic surgeons and dermatologists recommend LLLT devices for patients to use at home or offer clinical LLLT treatments in their offices. A quick scan of the Internet reveals many articles, blog posts and consumer reviews that attest to the effectiveness of LLLT for the treatment of androgenic alopecia in men and women.
Who Is a Candidate from LLLT and Who May Benefit From It?
Hair loss can have many causes and what works to treat one form may not be successful at treating another. So far, LLLT devices have only been shown to be effective at treating androgenic alopecia. Also called male or female pattern baldness, this condition stems from sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Exposure to DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink, making hair strands grow narrower and narrower over time. Eventually, the follicles become fully unable to produce hair at all.
To be a good candidate for LLLT, a man or woman would need to have a diagnosis of androgenic alopecia from a physician. The therapy is typically only effective for individuals with mild to moderate hair loss. Generally, LLLT is not beneficial for those who have large bald patches or are completely bald.
How Long Does It Take to See Results From LLLT?
A single dose of red light energy is not enough to regrow hair. Photobiomodulation must occur regularly to provide benefits. Most experts recommend that men and women perform three to four LLT sessions at home per week and that each session last for roughly 20 to 25 minutes. Most people can begin to see results within 4 to 6 months of treatment. Once hair regrows to a satisfactory level of thickness, weekly or semiweekly sessions are required to maintain results.
What Scientific Evidence Supports the Use of LLLT?
There have been a number of studies regarding the use of LLLT for treating hair loss. Some notable studies include:
- A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Trichology examined the effects of the HairMax comb, an LLLT device on 32 people with androgenic alopecia. The patients used the laser comb with and without the oral hair loss drug finasteride. Eight patients showed major improvements in the amount of hair regrowth and 20 saw moderate improvements. Both standalone and combination therapy with finasteride were shown to be effective and results became noticeable within 3 months.
- A 2014 study published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine examined how an LLLT LED helmet device affected women with androgenic alopecia. There were 42 women who completed the study. Half used the genuine LLLT device, while the other half were given a device that did not deliver red light. The women used the laser helmet or placebo every other day for 16 weeks. At the end of the study, the women in the group experienced a 37 percent increase in hair growth, while the women in the placebo group experienced negligible growth.
- A 2013 study published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine used a laser helmet and a placebo device to evaluate the benefits of LLLT in 41 men with alopecia. Like the 2014 study published in the same journal, the men used their devices every other day for 16 weeks. The men who used the active laser helmet experienced a 35 percent increase in hair growth.
- A 2009 study published in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation studied the effects of the HairMax laser comb on a group of 110 men with androgenic alopecia over a 26-week time period. Two-thirds of the men were given the comb to use, and the other third were given a sham product that did not deliver red LED light. The men who used the comb saw a significant increase in the density of hair compared to little or no improvements among the men who used the placebo device.
Are There Any Side Effects to LLLT?
There are no known side effects to LLLT at this time. Because the lights used for the therapy do not produce heat, the procedure is painless.
What Products Should I Use Along with LLLT Devices?
One of the biggest benefits of hair loss treatment with a laser comb or laser helmet is that these devices can safely be used with other treatments to increase the potential for regrowth. Products to consider include:
- Regenepure DR Hair & Scalp Treatment - This daily use shampoo includes powerful ingredients, that has been shown to possibly reduce DHT levels in the scalp. This can benefit individuals who suffer from androgenic alopecia. The formula also includes herbs and nutrients that have been shown to support hair growth or address androgenic alopecia, including saw palmetto, caffeine, niacin, vitamin B6 and l-panthenol.
- Regenepure Intense Biotin Conditioner - The perfect follow-up to Regenepure DR, this nourishing conditioner provides biotin to the scalp. This essential vitamin is required for the production of new hair cells. In addition to biotin, the conditioner includes keratin and silk proteins to strengthen existing growth and jojoba oil for moisturizing. Saw palmetto is also added for its potential hormone regulating benefits.
- Regenepure Precision 5% Minoxidil Spray for Men - Minoxidil is a topical treatment for androgenic alopecia that is FDA-approved. It is clinically proven to slow down hair loss and can help hair regrow in areas of thinning and baldness. Regenepure Precision is the only 5% minoxidil product to use a fine mist spray applicator for delivery. This allows for optimal absorption of the topical drug and allows for quick, simple application with no drips.
How Much Does LLLT Cost?
For a high quality LLLT device made by a respected manufacturer, you should expect to pay somewhere from $450 to $750. Cheaper devices are also available, but many of these products are not well made or scientifically tested. Clinical treatments can vary in price based on the number of treatments needed and where you are located; however, the cost is usually significantly more than the cost of at-home LLT devices.
If you're considering LLLT, be sure that you have received a diagnosis of androgenic alopecia from your doctor before making a purchase. Your physician can determine whether or not your hair loss symptoms are due to male or female pattern baldness and likely to respond to treatment with a laser comb, laser helmet or clinical LLLT therapy.
Important: Statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results are not guaranteed. The testimonials are from real doctors and users and are for informational purposes only. All data and information provided on the BLOG is for informational purposes only. Regenepure.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.