Low Level Laser Light Therapy
Low Level Laser Light Therapy (LLLT) is a non-thermal light therapy method that has a photobiomodulatory effect. In 1967, Endre Mester first observed that mice treated with lasers during experiments investigating the potential carcinogenic effects of laser exposure regrew hair in shaved areas significantly faster than unexposed mice. Subsequently. several studies-ranging from experimental animal studies to clinical studies-were conducted to show the effectiveness of LLLT for promoting hair growth, and LLLT was approved for hair loss treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2007.
Although the exact mechanisms have not yet been identified, some cellular and molecular mechanisms have been identified in recent studies. LLLT is assumed to release nitric oxide from cytochrome c oxidase, a chromophore responsible for the absorption of red/infrared light, driving the electron transport chain to generate adenosine triphosphate and reactive oxygen species, as well as inducing transcription factors. As a result, it has been speculated that LLLT exerts its effects on hair growth by stimulating anagen re-entry in telogen hair follicles, prolonging the duration of the anagen phase, increasing the rate of proliferation in active anagen hair follicles, and preventing premature catagen development.
What is the evidence?
There is evidence that LLLT at 650/655nm has some effect. There are now more that 60 peer reviewed papers on LLLT and hair stimulation.
In 2019 Evidence based guidelines for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia were published by the European Dermatology Forum. As part of the process the review of the efficacy of LLLT in male and femal patients with androgenetic alopecia found 3 studies that met the guideline criteria for the guidelines. When used for 16 and 26 weeks there was an increased hair count, however no long term follow up was performed. Further controlled randomized clinical studies are required to estbalish the efficacy of these devices for hair growht in comparison with establsihsed therapies and to evaluate long term use.
However it is expected that further developments are to come.
The consensus seems to be that the current products are likely to give some form of benefit to the user by increasing hair health rather than hair growth. The evidence suggests that it can be associated with an improvement in hair thickness and faster growth.
What are the likely side effects?
LLLT is generally well tolerated.
Reported adverse events are usually mild including scalp dryness, itching, tenderness and a warm sensation.
How the clinic can help
This type of hair loss treatment is not available in the NHS as it is seen as cosmetic. Dealing with hair loss without using surgery needs a variety of approaches.
The treatment should ideally be used at home every other day/three times per week. Anecdotally other clinics are using the devices less frequently (e.g. every 2 weeks) in combination with topical hair loss medications such as Minoxidil. Topical Minoxidil is available from the clinic on request.
An appointment can be booked at the clinic to try a short treatment with a HairMax laser device.
The HairMax Laser band 41 comfort flex is a laser device that has been clinically proven to treat hereditary hair loss in men and women.
It is indicated to treat androgenetic alopecia and promote hair growth in females who have Ludwig (seven)1 -4, II-1, II-2 or frontal patterns of hair loss and in males who have Norwood Hamilton classifications of IIa to V and you both have Fitzpatricks skin types I to IV.
This does not mean that it will not work on the darker skin tones but unfortunately due to the limitations of digital photography and hair counting software the manufacturers were unable to test the darkest skintones.
Hair Max works by providing Laser energy to stimulate hair follicles. For optimal results the laser must not be blocked by the hair and must have an unobstructed path to the scalp.
HairMax has teeth that part the hair and allow the maximum amount of laser energy to reach the scalp.
Hair Max should be used three times a week spaced out every other day. Clinical studies demonstrate the most users see benefits in as little as 16 weeks.
Results may vary.