I have discussed low level laser therapy (LLLT) on this site on numerous occasions. I was very skeptical about LLLT when it started becoming trendy a decade or so ago. However, one peculiar phenomenon did make me have a modest degree of faith in the potential of lasers to grow hair. This phenomenon was the fact that people who got laser hair removal on their body hair sometimes complained that the laser actually grew more body hair!! This is referred to as paradoxical hair stimulation. For those with a lot of body hair that they are trying to permanently reduce, this phenomenon is thankfully very rare :-) For those like myself who get excited about anything that grows more hair (even if on the body), this phenomenon is unfortunately very rare :-(
In any event, the lasers that are used for at-home LLLT are much less powerful than the lasers that are used for laser hair removal at clinics. Home use low level laser therapy products such as the HairMax LaserComb cost just several hundred dollars, while much more powerful high-end lasers that are used to remove body hair cost tens of thousands of dollars. The power settings on professional laser hair removal devices are also very high and can easily damage skin if you go to an inexperienced clinic.
Fractional Laser to Stimulate Scalp Hair Growth via Wounding
The reason I thought about lasers again this week is because several days ago an interesting article from Catholic University of Korea was published in the Lasers in Surgery and Medicine journal. The conclusion of this article was that ablative fractional lasers appear to be effective in inducing hair regrowth via activation of the Wnt/Beta-Catenin pathway (based on a study done on mice). I have discussed the Wnt/Beta-Catenin pathway in numerous posts on this blog before.
However, I have never mentioned ablative fractional lasers before. Neither have I ever mentioned non-ablative fractional lasers on this blog before. Here is some information on ablative versus non-ablative lasers and on fractional lasers. Also see this excellent overview from 2012 of all four types of lasers being implied here.
Apparently, even before this latest development, there have already been a few published journal articles from Asian researchers covering both ablative and non-ablative fractional lasers and their positive impact on hair growth. For example see:
- Abstract 1: Enhancing hair follicle regeneration by non-ablative fractional laser: Assessment of irradiation parameters and tissue response. [Laser wavelength was 1550 nm].
- Abstract 2: The effect of a 1550 nm fractional erbium-glass laser in female pattern hair loss. [Note that the erbium is an ablative laser].
- Abstract 3: Fractional photothermolysis laser treatment of male pattern hair loss. [Also using the 1550 nm ablative erbium laser].
In the latest South Korean study in mice, it was found that the most effective (ablative) laser dosage was “the 10 mJ/spot and 300 spots/cm2 setting”. Hopefully some of these scientists will soon conduct studies on humans to get the most effective dosage on us neglected Homo Sapiens.
It does seem like light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (LASER) can now legitimately be considered as a tool in the fight against hair loss. It is likely that in the years ahead, scientists will experiment with many newer lasers and with various doses and power settings…. on both mice and humans, since we both look better with a ton of hair.