Low-Level Laser Therapy with HairMax LaserComb for Hair Loss: Data and Efficacy?

The laser was first discovered in the 1960s, after which its popularity for medicinal use has only increased. Experts believe that an infrared laser or red laser light may be used effectively to cause tissue repair and regeneration. The laser therapy, conducted at a low intensity, promoted cell activity and its corresponding functions inside the body. (1) The wavelength of a laser usually corresponds to a range between 5000 to 1100. This is also known as the optimal window of tissues. Low-level laser therapy may be used for nerve regeneration, wound healing, recovery from stroke, relief from joint pain, and prevention of mucositis. In addition, newer studies have shown low-level laser therapy to be effective at inducing hair growth. (2) This article focuses on how this low-level laser therapy may induce hair growth.

Meet the expert

Dr. Reena Jogi is a dermatologist who specializes in PRP Hair Restoration in Houston, Texas.


Hair Loss and Its Types

Hair follicles may undergo continuous cycles of regeneration, and each hair cycle consists of three phases known as the anagen phase, catagen phase, and telogen phase. The anagen phase is characterized by the hair follicle's active and rapid growth; the catagen phase is characterized by involution and apoptosis-induced regression. On the other hand, the telogen phase is the resting stage, usually associated with hair shedding. (3) The central part of the hair follicle associated with hair matric activation and proliferation is the dermal papillae. This also induces the terminal differentiation of trichocytes.

Low Levels Laser Therapy For Prevention of Hair Loss

Low-Level Laser Therapy was initially introduced in the 1960s after the Hungarian scientist Endre Mester conducted a number of studies on the carcinogenic ability of lasers. H specifically used low-power ruby on mice. The study results did not induce cancer promotion in the mice but instead caused hair growth on the areas shaved for laser application. (4) This is explained as the first example of the phenomenon known as photobiostimulation. (5)

More recent studies have shown that the application of laser can result in the growth of hair that is much denser, coarser, and darker in color. This may be referred to as paradoxical hypertrichosis and may be seen in 0.6 to 10% of the individuals. Another study proposed that the heat produced by laser therapy can induce increased proliferation and differentiation of the cells around the follicles by elevating levels of heat shock proteins like HSP27. (7)

Low Levels Laser Therapy For Hair Regrowth

FDA has approved low-Level Laser Therapy as a safe and effective method to treat male and female hair loss. While laser as a treatment for hair loss was approved for men in 2007, it was later approved for females in 2011. (6) The proposed mechanism responsible for this is that laser therapy can help the hair follicles that have reached the telogen phase of the cell cycles to reenter the anagen phase once again. It may help prolong the anagen phase duration for hair follicles already in this phase. 

Another mechanism through which Low-level laser therapy allows regrowth of hair follicles is that it prevents premature catagen development and incases the rate of proliferation of the hair follicles. The effect of low-level laser therapy on cell proliferation is further backed up by a study conducted on Sprague Dawley rats, which showed an upregulation of liver cell growth factor and the expression of its activator. (7)

The effects of low-level laser therapy may also be compared to the impact of a drug commonly prescribed for hair loss known as minoxidil. While the exact mechanism through which minoxidil exerts its effect is not fully understood, it is hypothesized that it may promote the release of Nitric Oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator and essential signaling molecule involved in numerous pathological and physiological processes of the body. 

Besides its role in promoting nitrogen oxide levels in the body, minoxidil is also engaged in opening ATP-dependent potassium channels. This can lead to the cell becoming hyperpolarized. Similar to the effects of Minoxidil, Low-Level Laser therapy may also be associated with increased Nitric Oxide levels in the body and the opening of the ATP-sensitive K channels in the mitochondria. Hence experts believe there to be an overlap of the mechanisms of both these hair growth treatments.

A study conducted by Weiss and coworkers, which used an RT PCR and Microarray analysis, showed that test subjects undergoing Low-level laser therapy might experience a modulation of the expression of enzyme 5 Alpha Reductase. This hormone is replicable for converting the male sex hormone testosterone to DHT, which stands for Dihydrotestosterone. This enzyme is also responsible for the alteration of the vascular endothelial growth factors, alteration of expression of Matrix Metalloproteinases, hair follicle growth, and the human dermal papillae cell regeneration. (8) Another mechanism by which Low-level laser therapy may help improve hair growth and prevent hair fall is by preventing the inflammatory activity - particularly around the hair follicles. This is particularly beneficial in individuals with higher DHT levels which is proposed to promote inflammation around the hair follicles, eventually leading to hair fall.

This is due to the higher activity of inflammatory infiltrates like interferon-gamma, IL-1α, and β, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, MHC, and Fas-antigen, and macrophage migration inhibitory factor disrupts the hair follicles. These inflammatory factors have also been previously linked to the development of androgenic alopecia. Hence, controlling the inflammatory activity, lower level laser therapy may effectively help treat conditions like Androgenic alopecia and other causes of hair fall.

The Bottom Line

Studies have shown Low-Level Laser therapy to be effective for several health conditions. Its therapeutic uses may include stroke recovery, wound healing, musculoskeletal pain relief, and even hair growth. The proposed mechanism through which it induces hair growth is by returning and maintaining hair follicles in the anagen phase, which is considered the active phase of the hair follicle.

Related articles

Start your free hair loss assessment

Get all of your questions about hair loss answered and see what treatments may work for you.