Efficacy of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in Treating Hair Loss

hair-stimulation-closeupLaser is a device that works on the principle of light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (Hecht and Jeff, 2005). Apart from various industrial applications, laser has an established spot in medicine.

Laser Therapy for Hair Loss

It was the accidental discovery by Endre Mester (1967)at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, that laid the foundation for laser therapy to treat hair loss. While investigating the effects of laser on skin cancer, Mester observed and demonstrated that laser exposure stimulates hair growth.

The Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) Paradox

It is quite appealing to note that the lasers used in various medical procedures primarily bring about destruction of the target tissues that includes cutting, mending or removal of tissue parts (ablation) and operate at higher wavelengths. For instance, the Free Electron Lasers (FEL) employed to cut or ablate soft tissues like skin, cornea, and brain cells operate in the infrared wavelengths of around 6.45 micrometres (Edwards et al, 1994).

On the contrary, the therapeutic laser beams employed to promote hair growth are typically low intensity visible red spectral band laser beams that stimulate cell growth instead of destroying them and ideally operate around 308 nm (Raulin et al, 2005) to 655 nm (Lanzafame et al, 2014).

Postulates on the LLLT Paradox

Numerous postulates are in place to explain the mechanism of this LLLT paradox in stimulation of hair growth. Research studies do point to an active role of the enzyme cytochrome c oxidase that mediates the ATP production in mitochondria of the cells because of its photo-reception to laser beam (Karu et al, 2008).

The paradoxical effect could also be perhaps due to ‘similia similibus curantur’, a principle employed by Hahnemann (1833), that states that anything capable of producing morbid symptoms in a healthy entity can eradicate similar symptoms when dispensed in calibrated diminished levels of dosage.

Research Evidence

Studies on LLLT for hair growth promoter activity have shown that LLLT decreases the number of vellus hairs, increases the number of terminal hairs, and hair shaft diameter (Avram and Rogers, 2009).

Research studies to investigate the effect of a 632.8 nm helium-neon laser irradiation on hair follicle growth cycle have shown a significant increase (p < 0.05) in percentage of anagen hair, indicating stimulation of hair growth (Shukla et.al, 2010).

A randomized, double-blind, sham device-controlled, multicentre trial on laser phototherapy devices in the treatment for male androgenetic alopecia has shown that LLLT increases mean terminal hair density and overall hair regrowth (Leavitt et.al, 2009). Further, a recent double-blind randomized controlled trial to define the safety and physiologic effects of LLLT on women with androgenic alopecia have also shown that LLLT significantly improves hair counts (Lanzafame et.al, 2014). A multicenter, randomized, sham device-controlled, double-blind study on low-level laser devices in the treatment for male and female pattern hair loss also suggest the same (Jimenez et al, 2014).

In addition to the use of LLLT, the Regenepure family of products helps to ready the hair & scalp for the therapy. Regenepure DR helps to tackle on the scalp of DHT build up, allowing the lasers to get directly to the scalp.

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