Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) for Hair Loss

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) for Hair Loss

HairMax LaserComb LLLT
Low-Level Laser Therapy with HairMax LaserComb.

Until several years ago, I used to be a skeptic when it comes to low-level laser therapy (LLLT) for hair loss. This is not to say that I felt there was zero logic in using lasers to treat scalp hair loss.

In fact, for years, I have heard of laser body hair removal causing the unwanted and opposite side effect of laser hair growth stimulation in some people. A phenomenon termed as paradoxical hypertrichosis.

However, I felt that the benefits of LLLT aka photobiomodulation (PBM) on scalp hair are modest at best. Lasers used for body hair removal are more powerful and quite different from those used to treat scalp hair loss.

Updated: April 13, 2022

New Studies on LLLT for Hair Loss

Since I first wrote this post, a number of new studies in support of low-level laser light therapy for hair growth have been published.

  • A December 2021 study from China found hair growth promoting effects from 650 nm red light stimulation.
  • A May 2021 study concluded that low-level light therapy downregulates scalp inflammatory biomarkers in men with androgenetic alopecia. Moreover, LLLT also boosts the effectiveness of Minoxidil on hair growth. Note that this research was conducted in France by the reputable L’Oréal.
  • A 2020 literature review of ten controlled clinical trials concludes that LLLT appears to be safe and effective for treating pattern hair loss in both men and women. However, the authors caution that some studies “have a relationship with the industry”.
  • According to this summary, as of September 2020 there were 66 LLLT devices registered with the US FDA.

Low-Level Laser Therapy Wavelengths

The lasers that are used in LLLT typically have a wavelength of anywhere between 600 to 900 nanometers (nm). Anything below 600 nm tends to work less effectively. However, one study found lower wavelength blue light (453 nm) to be more effective.

The bestselling laser hair growth devices all use wavelengths of red or near-infrared light (i.e., around 650 nm). Of note, a study from South Korea found that a higher wavelength of 830 nm gave the best results (albeit in mice). For more on this subject, see my posts on low level laser therapy for hair loss wavelengths. Also check out my post on the use of higher wavelength fractional lasers for stimulating hair growth.

LLLT Debate

This old debate from 2008 between Dr. Feller and Dr. Bauman is quite interesting. Dr. Bauman was also part of a now famous 2004/2005 Dateline NBC show that followed 5 patients on different treatment protocols. The HairMax Lasercomb resulted in the most favorable (but not stellar) hair regrowth results. See patient “George” and his before and after photos at 8:10 onwards in this video:

YouTube Video

Laser Devices for Hair Growth

Nowadays, numerous physicians support the use of FDA cleared at-home low-level laser devices for hair growth. The Amazon.com customer reviews for LLLT products typically average around 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.

However, I would advise always looking at reviews with a critical eye. Only give credence to reviewers who have their names verified. Make sure to focus on those who have posted reviews of many different types of products over several years.