Survey Finds Red, Low-Level, Laser Light Therapy is an Effective, Alternate Treatment for Androgenic AlopeciaJuly 2nd, 2015
Currently, only two FDA approved medical treatments exist for androgenic alopecia — minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) — but these drugs are not effective in all individuals, and to remain effective, both require consistent, daily, life-long use. Additionally, finasteride is not FDA approved for use in women.
Because of the need for additional hair loss treatment options, researchers have begun to look at low-level light laser therapy (LLLT), specifically red and near-infrared LLLT, due to its ability to promote hair growth by stimulating hair follicle cells — a process called cellular photo-biostimulatiostimulation.
While many studies have investigated the effects of red and near-infrared LLLT on hair loss, specifically in the ranges of 635 to 780nm, there’s been no comprehensive survey of these studies to see if this treatment option has a consistent, positive effect on androgenic alopecia (genetic balding) for men and women.
To answer this question, researchers from the Harvard Medical School surveyed five clinical studies designed to measure the effects of LLLT on androgenic alopecia in both men and women. In each case, they found that red and near-infrared LLLT was a safe and effective treatment option for both men and women with genetic balding.
The authors propose that LLLT may work by supporting the anagen (growth) phase of the hair follicles affected by androgenic alopecia while also protecting them from alopecia’s inflammatory effects.
While the results in the studies were positive overall, the authors did note that the most therapeutic light wavelength and dosing remain to be determined.
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- Avci P, Gupta GK, Clark J, Wikonkal N, Hamblin MR. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss. Lasers Surg Med. 2014 Feb; 46(2):144-51. [↩]