Laser light therapy has always been associated with advanced hair removal techniques. Now, it is becoming increasingly popular for just the opposite. Hair growth.
The new buzz describes this therapy as a miracle-working treatment for anyone dealing with thinning hair, a receding hairline, or a bald head.
Furthermore, it is claimed to be effective in halting progressive hair loss and has the ability to return short, thinning hair to its thick, healthy glory.
You would not be blamed for being skeptical about such assertions. In fact, many have dismissed them as nothing but marketing sensationalization. Is there some truth in it all?
Does laser light therapy for hair loss really work? Is it a solution you should consider?
We can conclude that it does work to restore hair growth. However, it may not work for everyone who tries it. Read on to find out why.
Male Hereditary Hair Loss
The most common cause of hair loss in men is known as male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, more than half of all men over the age of 50 are affected by male pattern baldness. More and more men are experiencing it earlier, with some noticing it creeping in as early as their twenties.
Androgenic alopecia has its roots in a complex weave of the man’s hormones and genetics. Here is how the two relate.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the male hormone responsible for hair loss in men. It is a sex hormone that is important because it is behind what are described as ‘male sex characteristics such as body hair and increased muscle and bone mass.
Hair growth cycle and genetics
Your hair goes through a growth cycle which includes a growth phase when it grows about 2 cm every month. This phase lasts anywhere between 2 and 5 years.
Effects of DHT on hair growth
DHT contributes to reducing the size of hair follicles which then produce progressively fewer and finer hairs. It also shortens the growth phase of hair strands, therefore, minimizing overall growth.
It is worth noting that DHT affects hair growth in everyone to some extent. However, it is your genes that determine how sensitive your scalp is to its effects. Higher sensitivity means increased chances of hair loss.
How Laser Light Technology Works
Understanding how the technology behind laser light therapy for hair loss works takes us back to biology class because experts compare it to photosynthesis in plants.
The laser light used penetrates 5 mm into the scalp and produces a specific wavelength with the unique ability to be absorbed by the hair follicles. It works by shifting hair follicles into the growth stage in two ways.
i. It stimulates the cells responsible for the regeneration of hair follicles, therefore, promoting hair regrowth.
ii. It increases blood flow to the area surrounding the hair follicle thus increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to individual follicles. The result is longer hair strands with increased diameter. This is what you observe as longer, fuller-looking hair.
Another critical effect of laser light is that it removes the DHT hormone, therefore, restoring what was a shrunken hair follicle to normal size. With DHT removed, the hair can also return to normal growth cycles with the growth phase lasting as long as it should.
Does It Actually Work?
The technology and associated devices such as laser hats have FDA approval, although the body admits that it is yet to carry out its own conclusive research to confirm their efficacy.
Several studies have been carried out including a 2018 one published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venerology, and Leprology. It linked laser therapy to image satisfaction in men with androgenetic alopecia.
A similar 2019 study published in Lasers in Medical Science confirmed that a laser helmet effectively covered bald patches and increased hair thickness in men with androgenic alopecia.
Many doctors have prescribed laser hats and had patients come back with glowing reports of hair growth.
However, it doesn’t work for everyone.
However, it doesn’t work for everyone.
Laser light therapy has been found to be most effective in men in the early stages of hair loss. Men with more advanced hair loss report minimal effects as hair that is almost completely gone is harder to stimulate.
It also follows that laser light therapy is only effective in cases where hair loss is caused by hormonal interference with hair follicles. When hair loss is caused by other factors such as poor nutrition, stress, or medications, it can only be resolved by addressing the root cause.
Negative Aspects of Laser Light Therapy
Light therapy for hair restoration has its advantages in that it is an effective, non-invasive process. It is also totally painless, unlike alternatives such as hair transplants and scalp micropigmentation.
It does, on the other hand, come with a few negatives which you should be aware of before starting on treatment.
First, it is quite time-consuming. You will need to commit to several sessions a week for a few months in order to see significant results. Some experts recommend continued treatment for the rest of your life.
Secondly, it can be expensive. Montana Laser and Medical Center put their prices at between $50 and $150 per session, with 9 treatments being the average course of treatment.
You can opt for home-use laser devices such as caps, helmets, and phototherapy combs. These also don’t come cheap.
Finally, it could interact with some medications. If you are on photosensitizing medications which are used to increase skin sensitivity to light, laser light treatment is not recommended.
Laser light therapy does indeed work as a solution to hair loss challenges. It works by stimulating hair regrowth and creates an environment suitable for the development of long healthy strands. On top of that, it, albeit in a small way, helps to mop up DHT which is the male hormone responsible for the most common type of hair loss.
However, it is minimally effective in men whose hair loss is at an advanced stage, therefore making it ideal for thinning hair rather than a totally bald head.