What is low level laser (light) therapy (LLLT)?

What is low level laser (light) therapy (LLLT)?

Low level laser therapy, also known as low level light therapy (LLLT), uses red light to stimulate hair follicles to grow. Laser light therapy is used to treat many dermatological conditions, as well as wound healing and joint pain relief. Possible mechanisms of action include extension of the growth phase of hair follicles (anagen) or re-entry of resting hair follicles into the growth phase (telogen to anagen).1, 2 LLLT requires hair follicles to be present in the dermal (mid) and subcutis (deep) layers of the skin.

In office LLLT devices have more diodes/ LEDs and are more effective than the devices available for home use. When in-office treatment is not possible then there are devices that can be used at home or combined with in-office visits. Home use devices include laser helmets/ caps/ combs. The only devices cleared for home use by Health Canada are the iGrow Helmet (Apira Science) and the HairMax Laser Comb (Lexington).

Clinical research has demonstrated that the efficacy of LLLT therapy may be similar to that of the use of 5% minoxidil (Rogaine) and oral finasteride. However, individual results may vary. For optimal results the source of the light has to be close to the scalp. The effectiveness of LLLT likely depends on consistent use (3 times/week) for at least 6 months,3–5 and as long as 12 months, depending on the individual’s response.

References:

  1. 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;46:144–51.
  2. Keene SA. Part 2: LLLT Devices, Medical Device Regulation, and Impact on Development. Hair Transpl Forum Int 2015;25:10–2.
  3. Jimenez JJ, Wikramanayake TC, Bergfeld W, Hordinsky M, Hickman JG, Hamblin MR, et al. Efficacy and Safety of a Low-level Laser Device in the Treatment of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Multicenter, Randomized, Sham Device-controlled, Double-blind Study. Am J Clin Dermatol 2014;15:115–27.
  4. Lanzafame RJ, Blanche RR, Chiacchierini RP, Kazmirek ER, Sklar JA. The growth of human scalp hair in females using visible red light laser and LED sources. Lasers Surg Med 2014;46:601–7.
  5. Lanzafame RJ, Blanche RR, Bodian AB, Chiacchierini RP, Fernandez-Obregon A, Kazmirek ER. The growth of human scalp hair mediated by visible red light laser and LED sources in males. Lasers Surg Med 2013;45:487–95.

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