Low level laser therapy (LLLT), also referred to as red light therapy, and cold laser therapy, irradiates photons into scalp tissues. These photons invigorate circulation and stimulation into hair follicles, thus encouraging hair follicles to grow hair.
Hair follicles contain cytochrome C molecules that absorb red light. The absorbed red light ‘activates’ molecules, sending signals to the other cells in the hair follicle. What this does for the hair follicle is it results in reduced inflammation and programmed cell death, which produces stronger and more pigmented hair.
Low level laser therapy is believed to increase blood flow in the scalp and stimulate metabolic processes in hair follicles necessary for hair growth.
Success for low level laser therapy for hair loss treatments depend on the devices used. There are several devices available, like the Excimer (308 nm), helium-neon (632.8nm) and fractional erbium-glass (1550 nm).
LLLT is used to treat male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss. Male and female patients lose hair differently. Male pattern hair loss is usually presented with a distinctive alopecia pattern involving hairline recession and may lead to complete baldness, while female pattern hair loss is characterised with an overall thinning of hair.
LLLT best works on patients with hereditary hair loss, such as male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor to identify the cause of your hair loss and whether LLLT would be an appropriate treatment method. You should also communicate your health history with your doctor beforehand.
LLLT is delivered to the scalp through the use of a specialised comb, cap or dome. All three methods are effective and non-invasive.
Laser domes can only be used by a professional, so the only way of receiving LLLT through a laser dome is at the doctor.
Laser combs can be used at home; however, the application and use of the comb might be difficult and time-consuming.
Laser caps are portable and hands-free.
For LLLT to be effective, 2-3 treatments weekly are recommended. Each treatment consists of exposing the scalp to light-emitting diodes under a bonnet or head cap for 8 to 15 minutes. Scalp treatment and massages that promote blood circulation may be included at the end of the treatment.
No adverse side effects of the LLLT have been reported by patients and it is generally clean and painless with minimal time commitment. Hair growth usually occurs on the crown and along the hairline of the forehead. There are also no scalpels, cutting and burning from the lasers.
Lasers have been used as a hair removal method for years, but its long term impact on hair follicles have only been made known in recent years.
Warning: Laser therapy should not be used concomitantly with medication that are photosensitising, so it is advised patients speak to a doctor beforehand.
As LLLT is not a one-off treatment, repeated treatments are required to achieve results on hair restoration and hair growth. Patients have reported improvements after 12 to 26 weeks of use, with reduced hair fall and noticeable hair growth.