Category Archives: LLLT

2018 AAD Annual Meeting

The field of dermatology is quite vast and encompasses diseases and conditions of the nails, hair (both body and head), scalp and skin. Nevertheless, at the annual meetings of all the major dermatological organizations around the world, there are always many interesting presentations related to the head hair that most concerns us.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) was founded in 1938 and currently counts virtually all practicing dermatologists in the United States as members. I wrote a post on the 2016 AAD annual meeting, but did not do so in 2017 (when instead I covered the annual meeting of SID). Interestingly, SID was founded in 1937, just one year before AAD.

This year’s upcoming 2018 AAD annual meeting will be hosted in San Diego and run from February 16-20. See program overview here. A detailed pdf of all the presentations can be found here. Below are some of the interesting things that I noticed after a cursory glance through the program:

  • I was very surprised to see so many renowned hair loss researchers disclosing their affiliation with Aclaris Therapeutics (probably via research finding or grants). I am hoping that at least several of these researchers are testing JAK inhibitors on androgenetic alopecia patients for Aclaris and not just testing them on alopecia areata patients. According to this page, among the researchers disclosing an affiliation with Aclaris include: 1) Dr. Elise Olsen; 2) Dr. Jerry Shapiro; 3) Dr. Rodney Sinclair; 4) Dr. Antonella Tosti;  and 5) Dr. Ken Washenik. The latter three of these are affiliated with an unbelievable number of companies that are working on a hair loss cure or treatment. Dr. Washenik’s presentation is titled: “Emerging treatments of androgenetic alopecia” and I would not be surprised in the least if he made a presentation by the exact same title 20 years ago (alongside the also ancient Dr. George Cotsarelis).
  • A significant number of presentations entail hair loss, hair disorders, hair care and hair styling in African Americans and other people of color, especially women. One of the presentation abstracts even suggests that hair loss in African American women is under-reported, under researched and currently an epidemic.
  • Related to the above, a majority of the hair related presentations seem to be led by women. Earlier conference presentations were dominated by men, but this has been changing rapidly in recent years as I have mentioned several times on this blog in the past. I guess men have been taking too long to bring about a hair loss cure, and, in the words of Mr. Bannon: “The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history“. Hopefully he meant recorded history on wars and on the search for a hair loss cure.
  • The highly regarded researcher Dr. Rox Anderson (covered here) is presenting on low-level laser therapy (LLLT) and hair growth alongside Dr. Maria Hordinsky and Dr. Ronda Farah. I have neglected LLLT (photobiomodulation) during the past year, but am glad to see that Dr. Anderson is still a believer in the technology. Usually, companies or people who are selling laser devices are the biggest proponents of LLLT, leaving much room for skepticism.

New Studies on Lasers and Hair Growth

I have covered lasers and hair growth on this blog a number of times in the past, but have neglected the subject of late. However, a spate of new studies on this subject from around the world have put lasers back on my mind.

New LLLT Studies

When people discuss laser treatments for hair loss, low level laser therapy (LLLT) is usually what they mean. There have been many studies done in the past that show LLLT to be beneficial towards scalp hair growth. However, a large number of those studies have been of subpar quality (e.g., small sample size, bad photos) or biased (e.g., sponsored by a laser device manufacturer) and this subject remains somewhat controversial. In the past month, three new studies have been published in support of low level laser therapy to treat hair loss:

  • A study from China concluded that LLLT stimulates hair growth in mice via upregulating the expression of Wnt10b and β-catenin. Hair follicle count remained the same in LLLT treated mice versus untreated mice, but hair length increased in the former. If this holds true in humans, perhaps LLLT can really make existing hair stronger and less likely to die/shrivel from the attack by dihydrotestosterone (or at least prolong the battle). However, long-lost hair is probably not going to return from LLLT.
  • A study from Iran tested a new laser scanner device (with a combination 655 nm red laser plus 808 nm infrared laser) by comparing it with a 655 nm red light laser hat. Both products led to hair growth benefits, but the laser scanner was superior.
  • A study from Egypt on female hair loss sufferers found that combination LLLT+Minoxidil 5% treatment led to the better outcomes (measured via Ludwig scale classification and patient satisfaction) in comparison to LLLT only or Minoxidil 5% only treatments.

Blue Light > Red Light?

A new study via a European collaboration effort found that a UV-free blue light laser (453 nm wavelength) led to hair growth via prolongation of the anagen phase of the hair cycle, but a red light laser (689 nm length) did not do the same. This result is surprising since most commercially available LLLT laser products (combs, caps, helmets) are of around 650 nm wavelength (i.e., in the red light spectrum). Interestingly, a 2015 study from South Korea found that 830 nm laser was superior to lower wavelength lasers (of 632 nm, 670 nm and 785 nm) when it came to hair growth in rats.

LLLT Light Wavelength

 

The above mentioned European study also made an important finding: “We provide the first evidence that OPN2 and OPN3 are expressed in human hair follicles”.

Combining Fractional CO2 laser therapy and Hair Growth Factors

I discussed fractional lasers and hair growth in a post in 2015. Now a new study from China finds that a combination treatment using  carbon dioxide fractional laser treatment plus growth factors is significantly superior to using growth factors alone.