Electricity and Hair Growth

No matter how many years I research hair loss, virtually every month still brings a major surprise. The latest eyebrow-raising story concerns electricity stimulating hair growth, and comes to us from UW Madison.

Baseball Cap to Zap your Scalp and Stop Hair Loss

Electricity Stimulation for Hair Growth
Electric Stimulation to Grow Hair. Source: ACS Nano, Wang et al.

Yesterday, an article in Futurism discussed a new baseball cap invention that mildly electrocutes your scalp and leads to hair growth. Moreover, the cap is powered by small head movements from whoever is wearing it. i.e., no battery or electricity needed. Of course I initially laughed off this whole concept. However, upon further examination, there is some logic to this story.

The scientist who made this invention is Dr. Xudong Wang from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He leads the nanoscience and nanotechnology group at this university. His lab has done an especially large amount of work in the bioelectronic and energy harvesting sectors. This particular invention makes use of something called the triboelectric effect.

Dr. Wang is a world leading expert in the design of energy-harvesting devices. Among the inventions that his lab is most famous for include electric bandages that stimulate wound healing; and a weight loss implant that uses electricity to trick the brain into thinking that the stomach is full.

Note that this work was only proven in mice, and supposedly in one human (Dr. Wang’s father). The cap will not regrow hair in completely bald men, but it may regrow recently lost hair as in the case of Mr. Wang’s lucky father.

This work was published in ACS Nano. It was also covered in New Scientist magazine and Science Daily, all fairly reputable magazines as far as I can tell. Dr. Wang’s team aims to conduct human clinical trials in the near future.

Prior Work on Electricity and Hair Growth

Moreover, all the way back in 1990, Canadian scientists discovered that they can help restore thinning hair by stimulating the scalps of balding men with a pulsed electrical field. Their theory on how this works was that:

The turning on and off of the electrical stimulus at the electrodes causes the alternate polarising and depolarising of the (root and follicle) cell. This opens electrically sensitive calcium channels in the cell membrane, allowing calcium and other positively charged ions to enter the cell where they will stimulate the production of DNA and, from there, protein (and hair) synthesis.

Revian Red Light Therapy for Hair Growth

Update: Revian Red September 2019 Press Release.

Quote from Dr. Rodney Sinclair:

“It took almost 20 years to work out the ideal wavelengths of light, the best fluence or ‘power’, how long the treatments should last and how often the treatments need to be repeated.”

Revian Red Laser
Revian Red Light Therapy for Hair Growth.

It has been a long time since I wrote a post on low level laser therapy (LLLT) to treat hair loss. Although a very controversial subject, there are a number of studies that suggest LLLT can benefit hair growth.

Almost always, laser therapy will not bring back hair in totally bald areas of the scalp. However, LLLT can make existing hair thicker according to many findings. The latest study in support of low level laser therapy for hair growth was published in Lasers in Medical Science in August 2019.

Revian Red

***Note that Revian Red system is currently on sale on Amazon for $590 after coupon application. Regular price is $795 on their website. Average reviews for Revian Red cap so far are 4/5.

In April 2019, a new laser system for hair growth called Revian Red entered the market. See the press release from its manufacturer, PhotonMD (North Carolina). Revian Red is FDA cleared for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in both men and women. Note the difference between FDA approved and FDA cleared.

Revian Red with Phone App
Revian Red with Smartphone Mobile App.

One of the more interesting aspects about Revian Red is that it is a wireless cap that comes with a phone app that you can use to take photos and track results. The app also reminds you of the 10 minutes per day treatment schedule.

Also of interest, Revian Red is based on Red LED Light Therapy. See my past post on laser therapy for hair loss and wavelength. The company terms is as modulated light therapy. Red light wavelength ranges from 400 nm to 700 nm.

Clinical Trials

Revian Red underwent clinical trials in Australia that were led my the famous dermatologist Rodney Sinclair. According to Revian’s own site, clinical trial results seem to have been favorable. However, the results are not as yet officially published, even though the trials were completed in May 2019.

Before Revian: Other Laser Devices

I have covered a number of other low level laser therapy devices on this blog in the past. These include combs, helmets and caps.

The oldest of these FDA cleared lasers is the HairMax LaserComb, while the more recent of these is the Theradome Laser Helmet. Also cleared are the funky looking iGrow Laser Helmet; the iRestore Hair Growth System; and the Capillus Laser Therapy Cap.

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