Fractional Lasers to Stimulate Hair Regrowth

Fractional Erbium:YAG (or Er:YAG) lasers can lead to scalp hair growth per a number of recent studies. Both ablative and non-ablative Erbium lasers have been used to treat hair loss.

Note that the fractional lasers discussed in this post have significantly higher wavelengths (1,500-3,000 nm) than typical low-level laser therapy (LLLT) home-use devices (650 nm). Fractional laser treatments must be undertaken at professional clinics and never at home.

Fractional laser treatments are unique in that they work at both the upper epidermal and lower dermal layers of the skin. Other laser light treatments are either ablative or non-ablative.

Here is some information on ablative versus non-ablative lasers and on fractional lasers. Also see this excellent overview from 2012 of all four combinations of lasers being implied here. Note that fractional carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers have also been used for hair growth.

The bottom part of this post is the original that was first written in 2015. The top part is all recent updates.

Update: June 11, 2024

Lumenis FoLix™: The First FDA-cleared Fractional Laser to Treat Hair Loss

Lumenis (Israel) has just introduced FoLix™, the first FDA-cleared proprietary fractional laser for the treatment of hair loss. Lumenis’ pre-clinical and clinical studies showed a positive impact on hair growth after using FoLix. Lumenis claims that its laser gives results within “four to six monthly sessions”.

FoLix is a non-ablative fractional laser device. Note that in the above link, it says the laser can only be used in adult males and females with Fitzpatrick skin types I to IV. More details about FoLix can be found here.

Update: January 21, 2024

Non-Ablative Fractional Laser Superior to 5% Minoxidil

A new study from China (h/t “Kyle”) just found that a 1565 nm non-ablative fractional laser (NAFL) exhibits superior hair growth in comparison to topical minoxidil 5%. The better results were seen in: total hair count; total hair density; terminal hair count; terminal hair density; number of follicle units; and average hair numbers per hair follicle unit. Quite convincing.

The study consisted of 30 male participants with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Half got treated with the lasers, and the other half with minoxidil. No significant side effects were noticed. Below is one of the before (baseline) and after (week 10) photos. While the hair regrowth is not easily evident in the scalp photo, the magnified close-up and the tables in the actual study garner greater confidence.

Fractional Laser Hair Growth
1565 nm non-ablative fractional laser hair growth, before and after (10 weeks) photos. Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Update: April 14, 2022

Er:YAG Lasers for Hair Growth

A number of new studies have been published since I originally wrote this post. All seem to use the Erbium lasers for hair growth.

— Ablative fractional 2940-nm erbium:YAG laser to treat hair loss in a male Korean patient. They used the locally made PURAXEL laser. The before and after photo from this September 2021 study is shown below:

Fractional Laser Hair Growth
Fractional Erbium:YAG Laser Hair Growth. Before an After.

— A study from August 2021 concluded that a non-ablative 2940-nm Er:YAG laser is an effective tool in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. The authors made use of the Fotona’s SP Dynamis laser system in SMOOTH ™ mode.

Erbium Laser and PRP Hair Loss
Erbium Laser and PRP combination hair loss treatment.

— A unique 2021 study from Russia found that combination therapy consisting of non-ablative 2940-nm Er:YAG laser plus platelet-rich plasma injections resulted in very significant hair regrowth.

The SP Dynamis (Fontona) fractional laser was utilized in SMOOTH™ mode. The before and after image on the right is impressive.

May 11, 2015

Fractional Laser Hair Growth via Wounding

The reason I thought about lasers again this week is because several days ago an interesting May 2015 article from South Korea was published in the Lasers in Surgery and Medicine journal.

The conclusion of this article is that ablative fractional lasers appear to be effective in inducing hair regrowth via activation of the Wnt/Beta-Catenin pathway. I have discussed the Wnt/Beta-Catenin pathway in numerous posts on this blog before. Note that the way these lasers work is somewhat related to the concept of wounding and hair growth.

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:

  • April 2015: Enhancing hair follicle regeneration by non-ablative fractional erbium-glass laser: The laser wavelength was 1550 nm. Note that the erbium laser is almost always ablative, but this one was non-ablative.
  • December 2011: The effect of a 1550 nm fractional erbium-glass laser in female pattern hair loss.
  • January 2011: Fractional photothermolysis laser treatment of male pattern hair loss. Also using the 1550 nm erbium-glass 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.

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 duration and power settings.

58 thoughts on “Fractional Lasers to Stimulate Hair Regrowth”

  1. If anyone finds a link to the whole journal article, please post in the comments here. I did not see it on Google Scholar, probably because this is so new. One other link I found had the first page of the report available, but nothing more.

  2. Balding men with slope is androgenitica have itch and sensitivity in their scalp. We have discussed this on the comments section on your blog. It’s believed/proven/observed that there is a certain degree of fibrosis or scar tissue if you may on the balding areas. And we balding by the hair getting thinner and thinner . Perhaps propecia works so well to maintain vs regrow- it’s stops the fibros (which could be a natural defense mechanism of the body) but I can’t regrow as the fibrosis can’t be reversed. What if high intensity laser break up this fibrious tissue and allow hair to grow again in areas where propecia can combat alone.

    Everyone saw the episodes of the keeping up with the kardasians where Kloe gets laser therapy on her butt. Laser have been used to break up scar tissue and celulites among other things. It might even work in two ways- 1 break down of fibrosis and 2 wNt activation by wounding….

    Who knows… but it is definitelty worth a try.

    1. There are people who try and break up “calcification’.. “Fibrosis” and general clogging of the scalp network.. Via supplements and topicals i believe.. This is very interesting and i think you could be onto something. :)

    2. these lasers work by:

      non-ablative: disturbing the dermis (which includes fibrotic tissue if thats what is there)


      ablative: essentially vaporizing the first level of skin

      but these studies say it works by stimulating an immune/regeneration response, not so much just because the fibrotic tissue is vaporized

    3. My skin gets really sensitive in the areas that are thinning, especially on the back of my head where I rest it on my pillow. It gets to the point where it feels sunburnt and just generally raw. I found that with minoxidil, it no longer feels raw. However, I stopped taking minoxidil and started using propolis extract mixed with baby lotion and that works just as well as minoxidil did and when I made the switch, I didn’t lose any hair to telafluvium.

      I found that Ibuprofen 800mg worked for me as well. I also found that I can get the same results from Saw Palmetto extract. I think for the most part, I’ve halted my hairloss if not incredibly slowed it down but this is my daily routine:

      I take:
      Vitamin D
      Magnesium Citrate
      Green Tea Extract
      Cod Liver Gels
      Fish Oil Gels
      Flaxseed Gels

      During my morning shower:
      I’ll condition with a soy caffiene conditioner. leave it on while I shave and brush my teeth.
      After my morning shower:
      I’ll rub my propolis and baby lotion mixture all over my head and then apply a caffeine soy amplifying gel.

      so I think maybe you’re right about the scar tissue, but I also think it might cause inflamation and thats probably why Ibuprofen and Propolis and Saw Palmetto work.

    4. Any new things are always good but remember scalp massage is free but it takes consistent effort – something more elusive than scraping thousands of dollars for the latest thing that will likely drop off the radar. Because were talking about what? circulation, preventing fibrosis and prolonging the life of the follicle – the free scalp massage.

  3. It doesn’t matter….Hair Cloning will be here in 4 or 5 years. Labs are working very hard. There is high demand on the subject of hair cloning. No demand for Propecia and Minoxidil since its effects are very limited and its side effects are remarkable. That’s all.

    1. Paul you live in a fantasy land. I suggest you start waking up – hair cloning is no where in the near future even if they perfected the technology the hoops of FDA and other entities’ approval will take year. Let alone the protest of the religious freaks.

      1. It’s called extremely atheistIc Japan. Lol you live under a rock, or you wotk for hairmax. It’s already being done for $100,000 in Switzerland. You are the weakest link, goodbye :)

      2. FDA only matters if your stuck in the us, and cloning will not be an option for the average income earner for quite some time!

      3. Yes, it’s near…It is much closer than many believe. You need to find another type of business. People who suffer hair loss WANT a real treatment. No craps that exist today.

        Regards Fbalding84

        1. All current treatments are shi&$t.

          For a full hair of hair I’ll gladly pay $100k including others that I know. If it is available in switersland I think someone should inform Prince William of Great Britain- he has the money and he is close.
          Or even better some soccer players will fly out in a whip. Please share with us this valuable information.

    2. Well, 4 or 5 years may be okay if your goal is investment in these companies… but for those needding the treatments, that is too long….

      If you’re 25 now, you’ll be 30 then… If you’re 26 now, you’ll be 31, etc. etc.

      of course, this is still between than being bald forever, but most peopl e want something that works now….

      and regenerating your entire head of follicles using a fractional laser may actually do that… if we can just test the damn thing on humans….

      These laser treatments are widely available (for face, etc.)… the lasers are unfortuatnely expensive so we wont see any DIY on forums… the only option is to contact an HT surgeon or Laser surgeon/clinic to try and get them to give it a try ASAP

  4. LLT and fractional/ablative lasers are apples and oranges…

    LLT works off of “stimulating” (supposedly)

    the new lasers studies work off of wounding… completely different and unrelated other than the word laser

    1. Yes of course, as is the case with LLLT versus hair removal lasers. Nevertheless, if one type of light/radiation works, it makes me slightly less skeptical of another type of light/radiation working. Irrespective of the wavelength and power differences, and irrespective of the differences in the actual biological way in which each works.

  5. Sorry to revisit this, but I just saw dr. Rapaport in NJ and I’m pretty sure he offers this. We got to talking about future treatments and what I’ve been on and off of and he said “you know what works for hair regrowth, but is expensive? Fractional laser”

    I’m going to call tomorrow and see just how much it is and maybe him and I can go about doing it.

    Also, If anyone is located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or New York and you want to see a derm who actually knows a bit and will prescribe off label to help you, check into him. He actually prescribed me oral minox if I want to try it. Good dude.

    I’ll report back after either trying the fractional laser or at least finding out the price.

  6. PURAXEL generates about 100 uniform micro-holes per shot in the epidermal layer up to 200µm in depth by using fractional laser technology. It enhances the absorption rate of active substances contained in functional cosmetics or ampoules, and helps improve skin moisture, brightness, density, melasma, wrinkles, and hair loss. For product details, you may visit our Puraxel website or Youtube channel.

      1. That is the first link in my post update FYI. The Russian study (includes PRP) in the new update is even more impressive per the photo.

  7. Thanks for updating this post! I discussed this method with my dermatologist friend in Korea years ago. He said some dermatologists are researching it. And I asked about this with Dr. Jeff Donovan. He also agrees that this method has potentials theoretically and no one is trying it in North America. If dermarollers works, lasers should work even better since it can control depth and thus more precise.

    1. Great to hear. Also, I think this quote from Follica seems apt for laser skin injury too:

      “Following skin disruption, cells that migrate to help healing are forced to make a decision: Should I make epidermis, or should I make a hair? There is a window of opportunity in which we can potentially push them to choose the latter.”

  8. I do not care for REVIVV or RIZN.

    And yeah, it’s been to soon to see any real gains but it immediately thins out my hair. I use it and my hair feels 10x thinner, which is odd because RIZN is supposed to do the exact opposite. I do not care for either and do not recommend. More snake oil.

  9. Remember the 78 year old guy who got burned in a coalfire head first. He got a complete ablative skin resurfacing, and a shit ton of growth. Maybe a resurfacing would give better results than fractional? The skin does get better at least with complete ablative rather than fractional.

  10. My question is why aren’t doctors all doing the Russian study for patients. Prp plus that laser. Regrowth is great! What’s the hold up? Probably bs that’s why….

    1. I don’t trust any studies on lasers. Not for hair loss, anyway. I have yet to talk to a single person that says it helped them. And yeah, maybe with PRP it works but I very highly doubt it. Companies have been trying to sell these laser devices for decades with obviously fake reviews on their websites (while I can’t find anyone that it worked for, their websites show hundreds or even thousands that magically had all their hair come back). Yeah, right. More scams.

  11. If lasers really worked, we wouldn’t be here would we? We’d all be home combing our lovely thick manes after a good tasering and talking about the recent Will Smith slap. I’d love to see real evidence-not another “study”. PRP didn’t work for me personally. Big waste of $. Neither did any other natural remedies for that matter-for a wide range of things-including hair loss. Modern medicine was invented for a reason I guess. It’s probably why you don’t see aromatherapists, naturopaths, homeopaths, raki masters, etc working in hospitals and ER. God help you if they did. (If there’s any natural healers out there offended by this, I’m sure there’s a 1800 number you can call. Nite.)

    1. I agree with the skepticism. However, note that several people are confusing the home lasers with the in-clinic lasers despite my elaboration in the beginning of the post.

      Also note that such clinic based more powerful lasers have grown extra body hair in some people who went for body hair removal (see link in post)! I think very few doctors are trying out these fractional lasers for hair loss purposes, which is a shame. Else they would have some kind of treatment protocol by now (even if ultimately only effective in 5 percent of cases).

  12. Is there anybody out there with severe diffuse thinning, is there hope for us with these future treatments? I just don’t see how hair cloning will help us with this type of hair loss. My entire scalp has thin hair ;(

    1. Hey Craig, I am a nw 1.5 diffuse thinner. When did you start initially diffuse thinning and what was the progression like?

      I am hopeful for the PRLR mAB. This is basically a cure for me.

      1. I’m a NW 2.5, use dermach to concealer most my thinning on top.. Been dealing with hair loss since 21, 37 now.. Been on Fin since 2007, it’s saved my hair.. but I still have severe thinning.. I can’t do anything with my hair except cut it short, and i’m freaking sick of it. Will JAK new drug cure my hair loss? I need a fix :*(

  13. This reminds me of the gentlemen who had accidently burned off the top of his scalp and once the wounds healed he had grown back a significant amount of hair covering the entire area of the burn. I think theres something to this in regards to wound induction with lasers but i dont believe in the LLLT as that just seems like something for people who already have hair.

  14. Seeing these studies once again confirm the underlying hypothesis of Follica’s protocol makes it all the more infuriating that Follica never came to market. Dermabrasion works, and after spending two decades and millions to perfect it, Follica just gave up. At the very least they could have sold their microneedling device or licensed its design to someone – it was far superior to anything currently available. At this point, why aren’t medispas offering micro needling for hair growth? As good as home baked results are (and they can be amazing), imagine if there was a more precise way to do it?

    1. Great points. It is also frustrating that US scientists and clinics are not testing fractional lasers for hair growth anywhere near as much as those in Asia.

  15. I am going to meet Dr. Donovan next month (I am his regular patient). I discussed the potential of fractional laser treatment with him two years ago. He said there are potentials. But it is hard to find physicians in North America interested in doing trials.

    My uncle is a dermatologist in South Korea. I will ask him about this as well.

  16. @admin: any updates from the Octane-Panel with Pelage and Amplifica?

    Couldn’t find any information online. Would be the first official public announcement from Pelage since 2019 (!).

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