How Low Level Laser Therapy Actually Works to Thicken Hair

How Low Level Laser Therapy Actually Works to Thicken Hair featured image
Photo Credits: Alex Butko / Shutterstock

The new year is the perfect excuse to get our priorities straight, and if you’re anything like me, hair is at the top of your list.

Laser devices made for hair growth are the newest at home treatment options to grow thicker and healthier hair and they’re 100-percent FDA cleared. Also known as Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), these devices come in many shapes and sizes, designed to suit your lifestyle and more importantly, address your hair goals.

Below, everything to know about the high-tech hair helpers.

How does LLLT work?
The science behind this form of treatment is simpler than you’d think. LLLT is a visible red light that works through the process of photobiomodulation. Much like plants draw their energy from the sun, the hair follicle (the pocket each hair grows out of) converts the red light into energy that stimulates your scalp’s blood circulation by 54 percent and increases your hair’s nutrient intake, resulting in healthier hair growth and the renewed functionality of hair follicles.

How long will it take to see results?
It will take a few months before you notice results. “It may be difficult to document your progress,” explains New York hair restoration surgeon Christine Shaver, MD. The magic is occurring under your scalp, stimulating your follicle through a number of mechanisms she explains as “increased production of growth factors, greater blood flow, or higher amounts of energy made in the hair cells.” So keep your eye on the quantity and quality of your new hair. The best trick is to take an up-close photo for your records. Then snap another three to four months later in the exact same place (typically the front hairline), then compare for yourself.

The well-known brand Capillus requires their laser cap—wear it while watching TV, then hand it over to your partner—to be used just six minutes a day. Depending on your condition, New York hair restoration surgeon John Frank, MD suggests “supplementing in conjunction to LLLT,” although his patients have had success using the laser devices on their own.

Can anyone use LLLT?
Yes, anyone can benefit from it. Whether you’re experiencing a slow occurrence of genetic hair loss or temporary hair loss caused by stress or hormonal changes, LLLT can help regain your hair. You can even use this laser therapy if you’re blessed with great hair and want to protect its quality over time.

Are there any side effects to LLLT?
Low Level Laser Therapy is a neutral or “cool” temperature laser, meaning it won’t get hot and there are zero side effects. The different designs using LLLT include combs, headbands and full coverage caps. They each contain different amounts of laser diodes (anywhere from nine to 272) which determine the efficacy and time required for each device—and not to mention the price. The Hairmax LaserComb begins at $200 and the most expensive cap from Capillus retails for $3,000.

How do you know which one is right for you?
The higher the number of diodes, the more effective the device will be. If you’re suffering from chronic hair thinning and hair loss, aim for a range of 100 diodes and up. If you’re recovering from temporary hair loss (sudden hair loss or shedding), you want to nourish your hair for optimal regrowth and can benefit from less amount of diodes.

Are there any other hair-thickening options?
These devices are one of three FDA accredited treatments and options for hair growth. The other two options include a topical drug known as Minoxidil and an oral pill for men called Finasteride. These three options round out a complete, in-home hair growth routine anyone can follow. LLLT is an easy way to kick start a new year’s resolution even on it’s own. “Laser devices really help stabilize the hair you have,” explains Dr. Frank, “regardless of other growth methods.”

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