For a number of years, low level laser therapy (LLLT) has been a controversial subject in the field of hair restoration. Some physicians believe LLLT – both as an at home treatment and a therapy offered in a medical office – is an effective hair loss therapy and recommend it to their patients; others do not think it offers any benefit and believe the science behind laser treatment is lacking. However, a new study reevaluated laser therapy as a hair loss treatment and came to a conclusion that may help shed light on the ongoing controversy: LLLT may – in fact – be an effective hair restoration treatment.
The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, tested the HairMax laser comb on 272 men and women with genetic patterned hair loss (androgenic alopecia and female pattern hair loss) to determine if it created an increase in terminal hair density. The study – which was conducted at multiple dermatology institutions in the United States – recruited 146 male and 188 female hair loss sufferers (128 males and 141 females of which were selected for the study) and randomized them into two groups: those who received therapy with the laser comb (one of three different models that differed by the number of laser beams in the device) and those who received no treatment from a “sham” device. The patients received treatment over the entire scalp three times a week for 26 weeks. The density of terminal hair was analyzed at the start of the study, the 16 week, and the 26 week point, and both the researchers and the patients were unaware of which treatment group they were in (“double blinded”).
At the 26 week mark, the results showed the following: the mean terminal hair count at 26 weeks increased from baseline by 20.2, 20.6, 18.4, 20.9, and 25.7 per cm2 in 9-beam laser comb-treated female subjects, 12-beam laser comb-treated female subjects, 7-beam laser comb-treated male subjects, and 9- and 12-beam laser comb-treated male subjects, respectively, compared with 2.8 in sham-treated subjects (all at statistically significant levels). The increase in terminal hair density was independent of the age and sex of the subject and the lasercomb model. Additionally, a higher percentage of lasercomb-treated subjects reported overall improvement of hair loss condition and thickness and fullness of hair in self-assessment, compared with sham-treated subjects. No serious adverse events were reported in any subject receiving the laser comb in any of the four trials.
Simply put, the researchers noticed a reportable difference in the hair density of those treated with the laser comb compared to patients treated with the “sham” device. Based on this evidence, the researchers came to the conclusion that LLLT may be a safe and effective treatment for both male and female hair loss sufferers. It is worth noting that the researchers recommended additional studies to evaluate whether these effects remain in the long-term and which type of laser therapy is most effective. It is also important to mention that the study was partially funded by Lexington International, the company that makes the HairMax laser comb. Regardless, it appears to be one of the largest studies to evaluate LLLT as a hair loss treatment and did report some statistically significant increases in hair density. Whether or not these findings are repeatable or will be maintained in the long-term is yet to be seen, but it is an interesting turn in the LLLT debate.
To review the entire study, please see the following: Efficacy and Safety of a Low-Level Laser Device in the Treatment of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Blake Bloxham – formerly “Future_HT_Doc”
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