Lasers are cool! We have seen lasers used in movies about futuristic epic intergalactic battles, from massive starships, to light sabers, the idea of light as a weapon has fascinated popular culture for decades. Now we can use lasers as a weapon against hair loss!
So just how would a laser work against hair loss? Well, it's called low-level laser therapy (LLLT), so it's not exactly an intergalactic missile of light zapping the hair follicle into smithereens and somehow coming back to life stronger than ever, but more of a gentle nudge to wake the follicle up. LLLT is also referred to as red light therapy or cold laser therapy, and it irradiates photons, and when this is directed at the scalp, the photons are absorbed by weak hair follicle cells and triggers a more robust growth through increasing blood circulation and stimulation of the hair growth cycle.
Is it safe? Good question! By all standards in which LLLT has been studied it appears to be safe. And no major side effects have been noted in multiple studies. However, it is cautioned to use LLLT in the setting of photosensitizing medications usually topical medications such as antihistamines, coal or tar derivatives, sulfonamides, sulfonylureas, thiazide diuretics, tetracyclines, tricyclic antidepressants. So make sure to ask your doctor before starting to use the treatment if you are on medications or unsure of the possible interaction of the laser therapy with your medications. Long-term safety has not yet been established. Laser devices are classified as medical devices by the FDA so they don’t have the same level of scrutiny and testing that medicines go through prior to approval.
The amount of light emitted is not concentrated enough to cause burning of the scalp, and there are no major side effects such as the problems we run into with the oral medication finasteride which can cause rare instances of erectile dysfunction. It is not painful like platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections of the scalp, nor is it painful as the hair transplant surgical procedure we offer here at Texas Hair Restoration Center.
What is nice about low level laser therapy is that it is non-invasive, painless, with no side effects and increases hair strength. Sounds like a win-win and we enjoy that here.
But the important thing to note is just how effective laser hair therapy really is, and this is where the benefits become less impactful. Though efficacy is not fully established yet, in a study from 2013, 41 males ages 18 to 48 found that laser hair treatment provided a 39 percent increase in hair growth over a period of 16 weeks.
Some downsides to laser hair restoration include the fact that it is time consuming, and in order to see results it requires multiple sessions per week over months and must be continued for the rest of your life. And though you can come into the clinic for laser hair therapy with stronger lasers, there are also now a few devices available that are FDA approved to prevent hair loss, though be mindful they will often have mixed results as not all the lasers used in each device are the same. But if you have a long commute or some downtime in your day where you can wear a hat, the laser hats can be an added therapy to help prevent further hair loss and possibly grow some hair back.
Another drawback of the laser treatments is that they can be expensive, Clinical laser treatments for hair loss can cost thousands of dollars, which excludes it as a therapy choice for a lot of men and women. The FDA approved hats are also not very cheap and can cost several hundred even up to over a thousand dollars.
Remember with male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) it is important to remember that the sooner you start to take care of the problem the better the results. A pre-emptive intergalactic warning laser blast over the bow of your hair-robbing Klingon starship may be the best approach. Considering using low level laser light therapy for hair loss prevention? Call and ask Dr. Pearce at Texas Hair Restoration Center about your hair loss needs. We can serve as a trusty ally in your battle against hair loss. Okay enough cheesy puns! Let us know how we can help!