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Low Level Laser Therapy

Low Level Laser Therapy, a doctor with glasses applying Low Level Laser Therapy on a female patient.

Low-Level Laser Therapy

LLLT

Lasers have a wide range of applications in medicine, and can be used to improve wound healing, aid in nerve regeneration and provide joint pain relief, as well as stimulating and encouraging hair growth. Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), also known as Photobiomodulation (PBM), or Cold Laser Therapy, is an innovative treatment method that can be used on its own or alongside other hair restoration methods.

A female doctor applying Low Level Laser therapy on a female patient's hair.

The method has been proven to promote the growth of hair in patients of both sexes who are affected by androgenetic alopecia.

How does LLLT work?

Scientists are yet to establish the exact principles of LLLT, but it is thought that it can boost hair growth in a number of ways. Firstly, laser exposure is believed to boost blood circulation, oxygenation and the supply of nutrients to the scalp, therefore invigorating and stimulating the scalp and creating better conditions in which the hair can grow. At the same time, laser exposure can help to reduce inflammation: something which can potentially aggravate hair loss. Lasers are also thought to stimulate cellular activity and promote tissue regeneration.

In terms of its effects on the hair growth cycle, it is believed that LLLT can encourage hair to move into the growth phase, as well as prolonging the growth cycle and preventing hair from moving prematurely into the ‘resting’ phase of this cycle.

When applying low-level lasers, there are a lot of different parameters which can have an impact on results. These include the wavelength, beam diameter, irradiance, power density and pulse rate, in addition to the number of laser diodes per device and the distance between the source and the target. The duration of each session and the number and frequency of sessions will also be influential. There is no universally accepted ‘optimum’ combination of parameters, and results will vary depending on the combination of parameters and the individual situation of each patient.

How is LLLT applied?

LLLT can be applied through laser combs or laser helmets. There are different appliances available, some of which are suitable for home use and others which can only be used under the supervision of professionals. It is normally necessary to undergo a series of sessions over a prolonged period of time, with most patients beginning to see a difference between 12 and 24 weeks from the start of treatment. Results tend to vary from patient to patient, with the best results being seen in patients still in the early stages of hair loss. LLLT is unlikely to be able to help those that are already completely bald.

What are the advantages of LLLT?

Some of the more practical advantages of LLLT are the fact that it is a painless and minimally invasive treatment method which does not involve administering an anaesthetic or taking any other kind of medication. This means that LLLT is unlikely to occasion significant side effects, and particularly not those associated with pharmaceutical treatment methods. Furthermore, the time investment per session is not huge, with individual sessions lasting around half an hour. However, the sessions need to be repeated reasonably frequently in order to ensure the best results.

What are the drawbacks of LLLT?

Although laser exposure can bring benefits to the scalp and hair condition, it can potentially cause damage to the eyes, which is something which will be managed and avoided at a reputable clinic. Laser exposure can also risk stimulating pre-existing malignant lesions and growths, and it is not recommended in these cases. Nor should it be used in patients taking medications which lead to increased photosensitivity.

In some cases, LLLT has been linked to headaches or minor skin irritation, such as redness and itchiness, though these side-effects are not likely to be significant. Perhaps the biggest drawback of LLLT is that it involves a high level of commitment in the sense of doing multiple sessions over a prolonged period of time. As with other non-surgical methods of mitigating hair loss, the best results will be seen while patients continue to follow the treatment.

How can LLLT be combined with other treatment methods?

Like other non-surgical treatment methods such as PRP and mesotherapy, LLLT can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with other surgical and non-surgical means of combating hair loss. It is believed that when used after a hair transplant, LLLT can be useful in helping the healing process, boosting graft viability and encouraging earlier graft growth.

LLLT at SHIFT Hair Transplant

LLLT is one of a variety of treatment methods that SHIFT is proud to present to patients. SHIFT uses a Derma650TM device which is based on a patented cold laser system, using a medical laser with a 5mW output power and a 650nm wavelength. SHIFT’s adoption of laser technology is just one more example of its commitment to embracing cutting-edge technology and taking a multi-faceted approach to achieving the best results for patients.

SHIFT has always stood on the global front line of developments in hair transplantation, and patients in the hands of its experienced team can feel confident in achieving optimum results in a comfortable and safe environment.

References:

Avcı, P. et al, 2014, Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy (LLLT) for Treatment of Hair Loss, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 46:144-151, accessed 24 June 2019.

Frothingham, S., 2019, Laser Treatment For Hair Loss, Healthline, accessed 24 June 2019.

Hartfield, W., 2018, Low-Light Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Hair Loss: Ultimate Guide, Hairguard, accessed 24 June 2019.

ISHRS, n.d., Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) AKA Photobiomodulation (PBM) And The Effectiveness of Current Devices For Treating Hair Loss, accessed 24 June 2019.

Smith, M., 2019, Low Level Laser Therapy To Deal With Hair Loss: Is It Really Working?, UV Hero, accessed 24 June 2019.

WebMD, 2017, Nonsurgical Hair Loss Treatments, accessed 24 June 2019.