- Best Results4-8 months
- Treatment RecoveryNA
- Procedure Time12-15 min
- Skin SpecialistTherapist
- Duration of ResultsVariable
- AnaestheticNil required
- Back to WorkImmediately
Low Level Light Therapy & Hair Loss
Low level laser therapy also known as light emitting diode or LED therapy is a safe & potentially effective hair loss treatment. It is best used to prevent hair loss, however there are limited studies to suggest that hair counts can increase by up to 39%. Treatment is life-long. Ideally low-level lasers should be combined with medical & surgical therapy including anti-androgens, PRP & follicular unit extraction.
FactsFacts on Low Level Light Therapy for Hair Loss
- LLLT or low-level laser therapy is a treatment for hair loss disorders
- Whilst the literature show it can potentially stimulate hair follicles, the clinical outcomes are less impressive
- Laser therapy should be viewed as adjunct treatment for hair loss disorders
- Early & effective medical management of hair loss will preserve remaining hair follicles
- A highly effective combination is LLLT & Platelet Rich Plasma injections
- A medical dermatologist can guide you as to the most effective pathway
What types of hair loss responds best to low level lasers?
Lasers have been effective in managing the following forms of hair loss-
- Female pattern hair loss
- Male pattern hair loss
- Alopecia areata
- Telogen effluvium
- Lichenoid disorders including frontal fibrosing alopecia
When will I see the results?
Within 4 months. Previous trials typically end at 16 weeks, with a few extending to 24 weeks. The best results to date have shown a 37% increase in follicular counts. Keep in mind that most studies are short term.
My advice? See a medical dermatologist for early adjunctive management of hair loss. A dermatologist can discuss & implement a long-term plan to help you retain your hair, & in most cases regrow.
How do lasers work to regrow hair?
Lasers, including low level laser therapy can reduce hair loss & regrow hair via the following mechanism-
- Prolongs the growth or anagen cycle. This keeps your remaining hairs and prevents future hair loss / shedding.
- Stimulates resting or telogen hairs to enter anagen
- Stimulates new hair growth from stem cells & the dermal papillae
- Reduces inflammation
- Stimulates cytokines & growth factors
How often is Low Level Laser performed?
Treatment protocols range from once a week with more powerful in-clinic devices, to 30 minutes 3 times a week for home devices.
It is unclear as to the optimal number of sessions & power output from each device. A scientific way of measuring dose is the amount in millimoles over time. Further studies will give dermatologists a better understanding of optimal dosing.
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Why should you consider medical therapy as adjunctive for hair loss?
Remember the aim of any hair loss treatment is to slow down the process of follicular atrophy early & effectively. Studies have shown that topical minoxidil combined with LLLT yields more hair regeneration compared to either therapy alone.
Medical therapy is aimed at either reducing hormonal input to the follicle (classically anti-androgens or DHT inhibition), or modulation of the follicle life cycle. Minoxidil orally or topically increases the anagen phase as well as reducing telogen cycling. This drug also reduces miniaturization of the hair follicle itself.
Discuss with your medical dermatologist various topical & tablets that can potentially slow down your hair loss.
How do home devices compare to in-clinic devices?
Power. Clinical devices used by dermatologists deliver a specific wavelength within a much shorter time frame. When considering devices, take into consideration three factors-
- Wavelength (610nm to 1100)
- Power delivery or intensity (measured in millijoules)
- Delivery method (comb vs helmet vs panels)
The majority of home devices are either combs or helmets. Power is delivered over 15 to 30 minutes. Most clinical devices deliver power over 7 to 15 minutes.
What are the potential side effects of low level laser therapy?
Low level laser, as the name suggests, consists of low energy light. Though not side effect free, LLLT is extremely safe. Reported side effects include-
- Transient itchiness of area
- Transient acne like eruptions
- Reactivation of cold sore virus (very rare)
- Flare up of melasma (very rare)
Dermatologists are not concerned with the majority of potential phototoxic reactions associated with LLLT, the reason is that most reactions occur in the shorter wavelengths of light, namely long wave UVA & blue light. LLLT in the context of hair is delivered in the 600+ to 1000nm spectrum.
What is the difference between low level laser vs laser therapy for hair loss?
Lasers for hair loss can be divided into LED or light emission diodes & true lasers. The latter has one specific wavelength. True laser therapy is an in-clinic treatment consisting of fractional non-ablative / ablative lasers, most commonly with 1927 Thulium, 1440 to 1550 erbium glass & CO2 10,600 nm lasers.
True laser therapy is much more powerful (but still classified as very gentle) compared to low level laser therapy or LED. True lasers are performed once a month, compared to three times a week for home use LLLT.
Why should lasers be combined with PRP?
This minimally invasive treatment gives the fastest results. PRP, or platelet rich plasma is derived from your blood. It consists of a super dense mix of platelet products including growth factors, chemokines & cytokines.
PRP is then injected into the areas of hair loss & then the area is treated with low level laser therapy.
3 sessions a month apart is the standard protocol. The vast majority of patients will have a demonstrable outcome with this combination.
To see if this combination is best for your pattern of hair loss, book a consultation with the hair experts at Clinic Cutis.
Can laser therapy be combined with follicular unit extraction/ hair transplantation?
Yes. The combination of LLLT pre & post FUE transplantation would be a sensible option as this may improve graft survival rates. To date (as of end 2021) there are no trials confirming this theory.
How do I get started on low level lasers?
Ideally a dermatologist should supervise your hair gain treatments. Remember, lasers are best utilized as adjunctive therapy. We encourage patients to consider medical therapy including topicals & possibly oral medications.
You can purchase LLLT devices online. There are over a dozen brands, mostly in the United States. The other option is to consider in-clinic laser sources, including LEDs & Thulium 1927 lasers. Book an appointment with a medical dermatologist to discuss your options.
Disclaimer: My clinical practice is procedural, for hair loss disorders, please book an appointment with my colleagues @cliniccutis
Davin’s Viewpoint on Low Level Laser Therapy for Hair Loss
LLLT has many potential benefits on skin & hair. In the context of skin, low level lasers can rejuvenate & repair. For disorders of the scalp & follicles it can reduce & in some cases increase hair density. Low level light emission diodes work by stimulating the stem cells within the follicle. This results in thicker hair, reduction of the number of follicles entering the resting phase (telogen), an increase in the actual number of follicles (increased conversion from vellus to terminal hairs) whilst simultaneously reducing the number of miniaturized/ atrophied follicles.
There are over a dozen (good) scientific studies, however we do not have a conclusive indication of the exact wavelength (most within the 600-1000nm range), nor do we have an indication of the energy required & frequency of exposure. Nevertheless, this treatment is safe, cost effective & can be considered as adjunctive management to medical & surgical treatments. I look forward to more studies over the next few years.
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