Every day, most people lose about 100 hairs from their scalp. While the majority of people grow those hairs grow back, some people don’t due to:
- hormonal changes
- medical conditions, such as lupus and diabetes
- poor nutrition
- side effects of a medical treatment, such as chemotherapy
Treatments to stop hair loss and possibly reverse it include:
- medications such as minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia)
- hair transplant surgery
- laser therapy
What it does
Low-level laser therapy — also referred to as red light therapy and cold laser therapy — irradiates photons into scalp tissues. These photons are absorbed by weak cells to encourage hair growth.
It’s widely accepted that the procedure is safe, tolerable, and less invasive than hair transplant surgery.
The theory of laser treatment for hair loss is that the low-dose laser treatments invigorate circulation and stimulation that encourages hair follicles to grow hair.
Because the results of laser therapy are inconsistent, the conclusion of the medical community seems to be that it appears to work for some people, but not for others.
More research is needed, but some studies have yielded encouraging results:
- According to a 2014 study, low-level laser therapy appeared to be safe and effective for hair growth in both men and women.
- A 2013 study of 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.
There are a number of reasons that advocates cite to encourage participation in the procedure, including:
- it’s noninvasive
- it’s painless
- there are no side effects
- it increases hair strength
There are a number of reasons that some people are not as positive about the procedure, such as:
- It’s time consuming. To see results, treatment often requires several sessions a week for a number of months. Although the number of sessions might taper off, most providers suggest that you continue treatments for the rest of your life.
- It’s expensive. Clinical laser treatments for hair loss can cost thousands of dollars a year.
- It may not be effective. The procedure appears to be less effective for people in the advanced stages of hair loss as opposed to those in the early stages.
- It can interact with certain medications. Laser therapy should not be performed on people taking medications that are photosensitizing. Photosensitizing is a chemical alteration to the skin that increases someone’s sensitivity to light.
- Long-term safety and effectiveness have 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. Long-term safety and long-term effectiveness have not yet been established.