When it comes to regrowing hair, plenty of products and techniques are available on the market. Some work but many do not.
One that gets a ton of attention is a process known as low-level laser therapy, or LLLT. So how effective is it?
What is Low level Laser Therapy?
Low-level laser therapy is one of the most advanced non-surgical hair-loss treatment options on the market. It uses LED laser lights attached to a specially designed “cap” that gets placed on the head.
These lasers stimulate dormant follicles in the scalp to improve growth, volume, and thickness of the hair. LLLT is safe, painless, and approved for in-home use by the FDA for both men and women.
It’s typically used to treat male or female pattern baldness (though it can be employed in a variety of other applications as well).
Understanding the Hair Growth Process
Before we dig into the science behind LLLT and how it works, let’s get some context. More specifically, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with regard to the four basic phases of the hair growth cycle:
- Anagen. This is the growing phase. It typically lasts for three to five years – though hairs can grow in the anagen phase for as long as seven years. During this phase, hair grows until it’s cut (or reaches the end of its lifespan). At any given moment, roughly 90 percent of all our hair is in the anagen phase.
- Catagen. This is a fairly brief transition period. It typically lasts no more than a week or two, during which hair follicles shrink and growth slows down. The hair also separates at the bottom of the follicle while still remaining physically attached to the scalp.
- Telogen. During this phase, which lasts approximately 90 days, new hairs start to form inside the follicle. These begin to prepare for another anagen phase.
- Exogen. During the exogen phase, the old hair falls out and a clear pathway opens for the new hair to begin poking through. It’s normal to lose between 50 to 100 hairs per day.
The average hair follicle may only go through four or five complete cycles before it loses some of its strength and becomes incapable of re-entering the anagen growth phase on its own. When that happens, most people accept hair loss as a natural course of events.
Fortunately, there are ways to coax tired follicles back into the hair-growth process.
How LLLT Helps With Hair Growth
LLLT was discovered in the 1960s by a Hungarian physician by the name of Endre Mester. It was originally used for other purposes (for example, shrinking an enlarged prostate), but was quickly found to be an effective method for growing hair.
Also known as cold laser therapy or photobiomodulation, LLLT once was available only in clinical settings. But thanks to advances (and FDA approval), it can now be performed in the comfort of your home.
Photobiomodulation occurs when the laser light from the cap is absorbed by the cells in the follicle, which stimulates new cell functioning and circulation. This encourages hair to re-enter the anagen phase of the growth cycle.
Here are some laser cap before and after pictures to give you an idea of how it works. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a perfect hair-loss solution, but laser therapy has been shown to work 93 percent of the time.
It typically takes three or four months for the first results to be perceptible. It takes six to nine months for the full effect to transpire.
It’s recommended that you use LLLT for 30 minutes every other day. Thanks to the advanced technology built into laser caps, you can wear it around the house, in the yard, or while doing work at the office. It can also be used in conjunction with other hair-loss treatments, including minoxidil, finasteride, DHT blockers, or hair serums.
Putting it All Together
If you’re one of the millions of men or women who suffers from hair loss, low-level laser therapy could be the solution you’ve been searching for. It’s one of the safest and most effective options on the market. Speak with your doctor to find out whether LLLT is a good option for you!