Laser Hair Growth Treatments - Reviewed

gloved hands shining a red laser medical device on a man's parted hair

If you’re considering laser hair growth treatments, it’s important to do your research and understand the potential risks and side effects. In this article, we’ll review the evidence for and against using lasers for hair growth, as well as the different types of laser treatments and products available. We will also discuss the mechanism of action behind laser hair growth and the science that supports it.

Laser Hair Growth Treatment Options

Lasers have been used for decades to treat various medical conditions, including hair loss. Laser therapy uses concentrated light to stimulate hair roots and promote hair growth. Light therapy for hair works through a process known as photobiomodulation and has been shown to be clinically effective in a number of published studies.

Low Level Laser Therapy

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is commonly used for the treatment of female pattern hair loss and male pattern hair loss. Several studies have shown that LLLT can increase hair density and thickness (including total hair count), as well as promote hair regrowth. However, not all studies have shown positive results, and the long-term effects of LLLT hair loss treatments are relatively unknown.

LED Light Therapy

close up shot of an array of red led lights on a black background

LED (light emitting diode) light is also used to improve hair growth. The difference between an LED and laser treatment has mostly to do with the way light is directed. Lasers produce a coherent beam of light – which means all of the photons of light are traveling in the same direction. Whereas LED light spreads in many direction – similar to a common lightbulb.

 

The good news is that LED lights and laser light have both been shown effective for hair regrowth. Laser hair growth products have been traditionally more popular than LED products. However, since LED lights are generally more affordable than laser diodes, there is a recent increase in LED products being sold to help regrow hair. Many of the popular “laser cap” devices available actually use LED’s instead of lasers.

Red Light for Hair Follicles

Red light therapy is a type of low-level laser therapy that uses red and near-infrared light to stimulate hair growth. Traditionally red light has been the popular choice for low level laser treatment devices. However, some recent research has shown that blue light may also be an effective way to stimulate hair growth.

How Does Laser Therapy Promote Hair Growth?

It’s thought that laser therapy can stimulate hair and promote hair growth by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the scalp, as well as by increasing the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a molecule that plays an important role in cell metabolism. This process of increased blood flow and ATP production is called photobiomodulation therapy (also known as PBM therapy or PBMT).

Are There Any Side Effects Associated with Laser Therapy?

Laser therapy is generally safe when performed by a trained professional. The most common side effects are temporary redness, itching, and swelling of the skin. In rare cases, more serious side effects, such as burns or eye damage, can occur.

Is Laser Hair Growth Treatment Effective?

The effectiveness of laser therapy for hair growth is still being investigated. Some studies have shown positive results, while others have not. The long-term effects of laser therapy are also unknown. If you’re considering laser therapy for hair growth, it’s important to consult with a board-certified dermatologist or other qualified healthcare provider to discuss the risks and benefits.

Lasers for Hair Growth vs. Laser Hair Removal

a woman wearing dark medical sunglasses is getting laser hair removal on her upper lip by gloved hands

It’s important to note that there are two different types of lasers: those used for hair growth and those used for laser hair removal. Hair growth lasers use low-level light to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair growth. Hair removing lasers, on the other hand, use high-level light to destroy body hair follicles in order to cause people to lose hair and prevent future hair growth.

Laser Therapy for Female Pattern Hair Loss

smiling women in medical sunglasses is receiving red laser therapy on her hair part

Female pattern hair loss, also known as androgenic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss in women – affecting an estimated 50 million women worldwide. While there are a number of ways to treat androgenic alopecia, low level lasers are one of the more promising options.

 

A 2014 study showed that low fluence red laser devices were effective in treating women with female pattern hair loss. This sham device controlled study demonstrated that laser hair growth devices were effective at stimulating new hair growth in women who had experienced hair loss.

Laser Therapy for Male Pattern Baldness

Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss that affects most men at some point in their life. A review study published in 2021 concluded that laser hair growth products, including laser combs and laser cap devices are effective for treating men with male pattern baldness.

 

According to this study, the available clinical evidence suggests that laser treatments, including those from laser cap devices, are an effective way to treat hair loss in men. Additionally, the study suggests that laser treatment can impact the hair growth cycle and actually increase hair thickness and lead to the growth of more hair in patients suffering from a receding hairline. Although not all patients in the studies reviewed saw significant improvements from laser cap devices, there was enough success to demonstrate that, overall, laser hair products outperform placebo devices for growing new hair.

Laser Therapy for Androgenic Alopecia

Androgenic alopecia (also known as androgenetic alopecia) is the medical term for hair loss caused by hormones. This type of hair loss can affect both men and women, but it’s more common in men. Laser hair growth products and other hair loss treatments, including minoxidil ( Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia), have all been shown effective for treating hair loss in clinical trials.

Laser Light and Hair Follicle Stem Cells

3D rendering showing how laser light penetrates skin to the hair follicle root

Light energy has been been clinically shown to have a direct impact on thinning hair by affecting the hair follicle. Although the exact mechanism of action between laser technology and hair regrowth is not clearly understood – studies have identified one potential contributing factor.

 

A 2021 study in the Journal Stem Cell Reports demonstrated that laser hair growth treatments are shown to activate hair follicle stem cells. Their study showed that the way a laser hair growth device can stimulate hair regrowth and treat hair loss is by interacting with these important specialized cells. While this may not be the only reason that laser hair loss treatments work, it’s likely an important factor.

At-Home Laser Hair Growth Devices

There are a number of at-home laser therapy devices available for purchase online. These devices are generally safe to use, and some have been clinically proven to be effective treatment options. Here’s a review of some of the more popular laser device products designed to grow hair:

Laser Comb for Hair Loss

The HairMax LaserComb is a handheld device that delivers low-level laser therapy to the scalp. This FDA cleared system claims to be for the treatment of genetic hair loss in both men and women. A 334 patient study published in 2014 found that the HairMax LaserComb was effective in promoting hair growth in men with genetic hair loss. This placebo controlled study showed substantial improvement in the patients that received laser treatments, with a significant number of patients able to grow thicker hair when compared to the placebo group.

Laser Helmet for Hair Loss

The iGrow laser helmet is a hands-free laser cap that delivers laser energy to the scalp. The device is FDA-cleared for the treatment of hair loss in both men and women. The iGrow laser cap has been clinically shown to be an effective option for treating hair loss.

Capillus Laser Therapy Device

The Capillus Laser Therapy Device is a popular laser cap device that delivers red light to the scalp. The device is FDA-cleared for the treatment of hair loss in both men and women and is backed by peer-reviewed science. The Capillus has become increasingly popular in recent years, even being sold at some Costco locations in the US.

Laser Brushes for Hair Loss

There are a number of at-home laser brushes available for purchase online. These devices are generally safe to use, but it’s important to consult with a board-certified dermatologist or other qualified healthcare provider before using any at-home device, as they can cause serious side effects if used improperly.

iRestore Hair Growth System

The iRestore Hair Growth System is another FDA-cleared laser cap device. This device has a hard exterior (making it more of a laser helmet than a laser cap) and uses a combination of red lasers and LED’s.

HairMax Laserband

The HairMax Laserband is a another hands-free device designed to treat hair loss in men and women. This device doesn’t cover the entire head, and instead delivers light along it’s head-band shape. The unique shape of this device makes it useful for people who only want to treat their front hairline, or who have hairstyles that make it difficult to wear traditional laser caps.

Other Hair Loss Treatments

In addition to laser therapy, there are a number of other treatments that can be effective in treating hair loss. These include:

Topical Minoxidil

Minoxidil is a topical medication that is available over the counter. It is approved for the treatment of genetic hair loss in both men and women. A small study published in 2016 found that minoxidil was effective in promoting hair growth in women with genetic hair loss.

Finasteride

Finasteride is a prescription medication that is approved for the treatment of genetic hair loss in men. A small study published in 2014 found that finasteride was effective in treating genetic hair loss in men.

Hair Transplant Surgery

Hair transplants are a surgical procedure that is used to treat genetic hair loss. You can learn more about hair transplant surgery in our guide.

PRP Therapy

middle aged man receiving an injection from a gloved hand in his hairline

PRP therapy is a treatment that uses the body’s own blood to promote healing. We discuss PRP therapy for hair restoration in depth in this article.

Microneedling

Microneedling is a treatment that uses tiny needles to create microscopic wounds in the skin. A small study published in 2017 found that microneedling was effective in promoting hair growth in women with genetic hair loss.

Hair Growth Shampoo

There are a number of shampoos that are marketed as being effective in promoting hair growth. A small study published in 2016 found that one such shampoo was effective in treating genetic hair loss in men.

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