Low Level Laser Therapy to Re-Grow Hair
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LLLT Hair Care / Growth & Restoration

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Hair Growth and Restoration by Low Level Laser

an original article by Dr. Julia Breur, PhD, LMFT

Hair restoration is a tricky business for physicians and surgeons. There is a fairly stark contrast between which treatments are deemed more effective depending on whether you speak to a hair transplantation surgeon or a dermatologist. The surgeon will tell you that hair transplantation is the only definitive treatment but the physician will tell you that there are too many side effects and the cost is prohibitively high in most cases (up to and over $10,000 for follicular unit extraction and transplantation). On the other hand, surgeons are quick to point out that topical or oral treatments, which are the mainstay treatments of dermatologists and internists, do not help everyone. Hair restoration by low level laser may eventually become the middle ground that medicine and surgery needs.


Hair restoration by low level laser is not a perfect science but it is certainly improving as physicians better understand how to administer the light therapy. They are beginning to answer questions like: What is the right wavelength? What is the right intensity? How long do I treat? Studies are emerging that show how hair restoration by low level light can be accomplished in the clinic1-3 and how it works at the cellular and molecular level.4 


Ironically many of the findings related to hair re-growth and lasers/light therapy were noticed by doctors and patients that wanted hair removed. Lasers are being used extensively in hair removal and epilation treatments because the hair follicle can be destroyed without the pain and discomfort of electrolysis or waxing. What was quite astonishing to some (those physicians that did not work with low level laser hair removal techniques) was that certain patients that wished to have their hair removed actually grew new hair in areas around the treated area.5;6 While this paradoxical effect should be of concern to physicians and surgeons that use high intensity lasers or other high level light sources for hair removal, it is actually very hopeful to doctors that wish to restore hair.
We do know that hair restoration using low level light therapy accomplishes a few things. Low level laser can stimulate the expression of genes (and hence the proteins) that are involved in hair growth. When low level laser therapy was applied to cells, the expression of mRNA for pro-hair growing genes was increased, in similar fashion to minoxidil (published in abstract form at the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, April 1st, 2005).


Low level laser treatment also increases the blood flow to the scalp in the treated area.1 Lack of blood flow has been associated with hair follicle deterioration and destruction, especially in male pattern baldness.


One hurdle to low level light therapy for hair restoration has been treating hair follicles that are still contain viable hair shafts. Laser Therapeutics has released a unique brush set that overcomes this hurdle and restores hair in two ways. The Laser Therapeutics Duo Laser Hair Rejuvenation Comb includes a laser hair brush and a lotion application system. Each device in the Laser Therapeutics Duo Laser Hair Rejuvenation Comb contains bristles to deliver either light therapy or hair treatment lotion to the hair follicle. In regions of the scalp that no longer contain active hair shafts, the vibrating head delivers the treatment lotion deep into the dormant pore.


For patients with earlier stages of hair loss, the Laser Therapeutics Laser Hair Comb provides 17 fiber optic red LEDs (660 nm) in one brush. The fiber optic “bristles” deliver low level laser energy directly to the scalp—this prevents the hair from absorbing the light energy (and defeating the purpose of light therapy for hair restoration).


While there is much to be learned about hair restoration with low level laser therapy, the initial results are quite promising. In clinics that have established solid parameters, low level laser therapy is restoring hair in many patients without the expense of surgery and the side effects of topical or oral drugs.

 

Reference List

 

  1. Pontinen PJ, Aaltokallio T, Kolari PJ. Comparative effects of exposure to different light sources (He- Ne laser, InGaAl diode laser, a specific type of noncoherent LED) on skin blood flow for the head. Acupunct Electrother Res 1996;21:105-118.

 

  1. Kontoes P, Vlachos S, Konstantinos M, Anastasia L, Myrto S. Hair induction after laser-assisted hair removal and its treatment. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006;54:64-67.
  1. Bernstein EF. Hair growth induced by diode laser treatment. Dermatol Surg 2005;31:584-586.

 

  1. Karu TI, Pyatibrat LV, Afanasyeva NI. Cellular effects of low power laser therapy can be mediated by nitric oxide. Lasers Surg Med 2005;36:307-314.
  1. Alajlan A, Shapiro J, Rivers JK, MacDonald N, Wiggin J, Lui H. Paradoxical hypertrichosis after laser epilation. J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;53:85-88.

 

  1. Radmanesh M. Paradoxical hypertrichosis and terminal hair change after intense pulsed light hair removal therapy. J Dermatolog Treat 2009;20:52-54.

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