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The use of low-level light for hair growth: part I

Avram MR, Rogers NE.
Cornell Department of Dermatology, New York
Cosmet Laser Ther. 2009 Jun;11(2):110-7

Background and Objective

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a new therapy for the treatment of hair loss. It has received enormous media attention and tremendous marketing budgets from companies that sell the devices, but no independent, peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated its efficacy in this application. Here we investigate the efficacy of LLLT in enhancing hair growth.

Methods

A total of seven patients were exposed to LLLT twice weekly for 20 minutes each time over a period of 3-6 months. Five patients were treated for a total of 3 months and two were treated for 6 months. Videomicroscopic images were taken at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months, and analyzed for changes in vellus hair counts, terminal hair counts, and shaft diameter. Both videomicroscopic and global images underwent blinded review for evidence of subjective improvement. Patients also answered questionnaires assessing hair growth throughout the study. Neither patients nor physicians conducting the study received any financial compensation.

Results

The results indicate that on average patients had a decrease in the number of vellus hairs, an increase in the number of terminal hairs, and an increase in shaft diameter. However, paired i-testing indicated that none of these changes was statistically significant. Also, blinded evaluation of global images did not support an improvement in hair density or caliber.

Conclusions

LLLT may be a promising treatment option for patients who do not respond to either finasteride or minoxidil, and who do not want to undergo hair transplantation. This technology appears to work better for some people than for others. Factors predicting who will most benefit are yet to be determined. Larger, longer-term placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm these findings, and demonstrate statistical significance, or refute them altogether.