Q: I have thinning hair and have heard about Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) for hair loss. I know that I can either buy a machine over the internet or go to a doctor’s office or medical spa for treatments. Which one should I do?
A: The advantage of the in-office LLLT systems are that the units are more powerful and that the delivery of the energy is the same each time. The treatment is also not dependent upon the patient having to remember to do the treatment and does not require the person to spend 15 minutes each time concentrating on using the hand-held machine correctly. It also had the important advantage of requiring an initial evaluation by a physician who can diagnosis the hair loss and make sure that it is the genetic type that may respond to this type of therapy. And the effectiveness of the treatment can more readily be monitored over time.
The disadvantage of the office- or medispa- based system is that the treatments are significantly more costly than the home machine and require periodic visits over an extended period of time – a nuisance for working people, or for those who do not live close to a facility offering this service.
The advantage of the hand-held system is that it is much less expensive than the office based machine and it is much more convenient to do the treatment at home than to go to a doctor’s office several times a week. There may also be a potential advantage for patients that still have a significant amount of hair. In these people, the hand-held system (that is able to part the hair) may allow the laser light to more effectively reach the scalp.
The major disadvantage of the hand-held device seems to be with patient compliance as people get tired of having to run the instrument through their hair for 15 minutes several times a week. It is also hard for the person himself to judge if the treatments are working, how to taper the treatments and if, and when, to stop.
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