Ironically, lasers are used both to treat hair loss and to prevent hair from growing back in unwanted places. Laser light has been used to assist healing after hair transplants and also at low levels to stop hair loss. When applied to the scalp, lasers have improved the quality of hair by increasing the diameter of the hair shaft.
Lasers work by turning Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) into Adenisone Diphosphate (ADP) and stimulating the red blood cells. The process releases energy that causes change at a cellular level. In addition to the laser energy the scalp is exposed to nutrients and oxygen to assist the process. Essentially, the laser changes the composition of the chemicals used in the production of hair. It stimulates cell activity that allows more of the needed nutrients to reach the hair follicle and enable it to grow hair.
Laser light is applied to the scalp by seating the patient under a hood-like device similar in appearance to a commercial salon hair dryer. It is painless and free of side effects but costs more than topical remedies. Studies conducted over the past few years have indicated that laser light can stimulate growth of hair, prevent hair from falling out and revitalize dying hair follicles. At worst, the treatment has no effect whatsoever.
There are “laser comb” devices that are sometimes given to patients to use at home. These hand held units are powered up and dragged gently through hair and over the scalp to provide additional therapy. These combs are meant to enhance the results of physicians’ treatments in the office.
The FDA has determined that low level laser treatment does indeed give results with a 90% success rate. This type of treatment, photobiostimulation, has been used for three decades in the treatment of pain and various injuries. Only recently have lasers have been used to facilitate hair growth and reversal of hair loss.
The good news is that laser hair treatment only fails in around 10% of those that try it. Although a patient may not grow back a full head of hair after treatment it can stop hair loss and make hair follicles healthier. The average participant will see his or her hair growing back at around 19 new hairs per centimeter.
Laser treatment can be supplemented with topical applications of Propecia (for men only) or Minoxidil for both men and women. Together, the two treatments may halt hair loss and help live follicles begin to produce hair once more.
Unfortunately, laser hair treatment can be quite costly. As the treatment becomes more mainstream and the devices are easier and cheaper to produce, this type of treatment will become more affordable. If you’re on a limited budget but are noticing hair loss, a dermatologist can give you an impressive list of affordable options to choose from.