5 Best LLLT Devices: Laser Treatment for Hair Loss

man wearing lllt cap and other laser devices
Medically reviewed by dermatologist Suneil Gandhi, MD

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I know, I know. The loss of your hair is stressing you out, and you just need the quickest and most effective remedy to correct the situation. I feel you on this one. That is why I have dedicated this article to discuss a specific treatment option, which may be a great addition to your overall regimen.

While there are many factors that can cause hair loss, there are many proven treatment options that can significantly benefit you, depending on your condition. Ideally, treatment is initiated with the aim of reversing hair loss or slowing down any further thinning of the hair.

But not all cases of hair loss require treatment. Normally, people lose about 100 strands of hair from their scalp every day. It may not be visibly obvious – some of it falls naturally, or while combing and washing hair.

The good news is that most of these people regrow the hair they lost, as this is a completely normal rate. However, others may be incessantly losing hair without any regeneration of hair.

Now that you are reading this, you probably fall in the category of those whose hair doesn’t regrow, or at least not as thick as they were before. You are looking for a solution. This article focuses on the use of laser treatment for hair loss and examines its abilities to slow down, stop or even reverse your condition.

Low-level laser therapies have been getting increasingly popular in the field of trichology. Despite its novelty, this therapy is among the commonly used treatment methods nowadays that complement conventional therapies. Consequently, to complement your treatment effectiveness, you are likely to be recommended one of the LLLT devices by your dermatologist.

What is low-level laser therapy?

Low-level laser therapy, usually abbreviated as LLLT, is a non-invasive medical procedure. It is also referred to as low light therapy, cold laser, red light therapy or photobiomodulation.

LLLT was accidentally discovered by Hungarian physician Endre Mester in 1967, who found that mice irradiated with the light of low-level lasers grew hair. Since then, it has been found that LLLT has biological effects on the skin, such as increased blood circulation and enhanced cell regeneration.

In the early 2000s Lexington International, LLC under the brand name of HairMax, started to manufacture LLLT combs for hair loss treatment at home. Seven years later in January 2007, The HairMax LaserComb® was the first-ever medical low-level laser therapy device cleared by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for treatment of male androgenetic alopecia.

Four years later in 2011, FDA clearance for treatment of female pattern baldness followed. Currently, apart from oral finasteride and topical minoxidil, it is one of the few FDA cleared treatment methods for hair loss.

Effectiveness of Low-Level Laser Therapy

As a result of increasing laser technology adoption in hair loss treatment during the last decade, many scientific papers exploring the benefits of low-level laser therapy were published.

One study sought to confirm the hypothesis that LLLT can potentially stimulate the growth of hair. Their review summarized the results of 21 related studies to prove the benefits of low-level laser therapy as a hair loss treatment process.

The table below summarizes the results of clinical studies evaluating the effectiveness of LLLT in patients with androgenetic alopecia.

A simplified summary of studies, evaluating the efficacy of LLLT in hair loss treatment

Author, yearTreatment regimenAssessed parametersEffectiveness
Satino et al. 20035-10 min, every other day for 6 monthshair count, tensile strengthyes, in both sexes
Yamazaki et al. 20033 min, once every 1-2 weekshair regrowthyes
Waiz et al. 2006Four sessions basis, once a weekhair regrowth observationyes
Kim SS et al. 200710 min once a day for 14 weekshair density, patient satisfactionyes
Avram et al. 200920 min, twice a week for 3-6 monthshair countno significant changes
Leavitt et al. 200915 min, 3 times a week for 26 weekscomputer-aided hair countyes
Rushton et al. 20127.5 min, 3 times a week for 26 weekstrichogram, phototrichogramno improvements
Kim et al. 201318 min, daily for 24 weekshair density, investigator and subject global assessmentyes (no significance according to the subject)
Munck et al. 20148-15 min, 3 times a weekhair growth observationyes
Lanzafame et al. 201425 mins, every other day for 16 weekshair countyes, compared to placebo group
Jimenez et al. 20148-15 min, 3 times a week for 26 weekshair density, patients self-assessmentyes

Note: made by Hairverse, according to Zarei, M., Wikramanayake, T. C., Falto-Aizpurua, L., Schachner, L. A., & Jimenez, J. J. (2016).


As you can see, 9 out of 11 reviewed studies have shown positive results with laser treatment, based on different assessment parameters.

The study also found that all devices that are cleared by the FDA for LLLT hair loss treatment are both safe and, in most cases, effective for male and female pattern hair loss. Interestingly enough, LLLT was found to be effective for patients whose conditions would not respond to the standard treatment options for hair loss like minoxidil and finasteride.

Taking into account one particular study, it was found that nearly all subjects in the sample of 122 females and 102 males experienced an increase in hair count during a 26-week trial.

The study was based on thrice-weekly treatment for 8-15 mins using the HairMax laser comb. The illustration below shows the successful results of a couple of patients in the study.

lasercomb hair loss treatment results for female and male
Composed by Hairverse, based on Source: Jimenez, J. J., Wikramanayake, T. C., Bergfeld, W., Hordinsky, M., Hickman, J. G., Hamblin, M. R., & Schachner, L. A. (2014).
A – 12-beam laser comb, B – 9-beam laser comb.

A study in 2017 confirmed that low-level laser therapy was effective in improving the tensile strength and thickness of hair in up to 50 percent of the test subjects. The researchers concluded that LLLT could lead to an overall improvement in the growth of hair, maintaining an appropriate hair thickness, and ensuring patient satisfaction.

However, some studies have insisted that the maintenance treatment and possible long-term consequences of LLLT have not been well elucidated.

Despite that, from the above evidence, it is clear that studies support that low-level laser therapy for hair loss is not only safe but effective in managing hair loss in both men and women.

How does LLLT work?

The exact mechanism of action of LLLT in the treatment of hair loss is not clear. According to Dr. Suneil Gandhi, the possible mechanisms by which hair growth is improved are:

It acts on the cellular level, which leads to increased cell proliferation and migration, alteration in the levels of cytokines, growth factors, and inflammatory mediators and increased tissue oxygenation;
Release of nitric oxide, which helps to increase blood flow around the hair follicles, similar to minoxidil;
It can partially inhibit 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, one of the main reasons for patterned hair loss.

All these mechanisms lead to the following end results on hair follicles:

stimulates anagen re-entry in telogen (resting hair phase) hair follicles,
prolongs the duration of anagen phase (active growth phase),
increases the rate of proliferation in active anagen hair follicles,
prevents premature catagen (transition period between anagen and telogen phase) development,

Though the safety and effectiveness of low-level laser therapy for hair loss is quite clear, one question still stands out:

How to use LLLT for maximum effectiveness?

Sometimes, the amount of time it takes before you see results depends on the device you use. But very often, there is not much difference.

Ideally, you should be able to see noticeable results on average within 2 to 6 months after initiation of treatment. Though, combining LLLT with other treatments options may provide quicker and more significant results.

It suffices to note that the results from LLLT are not instantaneous. It won’t occur overnight. Some things must come into play before you can achieve better results. What is more, these determinants are dependent primarily on you – the user. For instance:

  • Stick to your schedule

Stick to the schedule, you find in the manual which should come together with your LLLT device. Recommendations by different manufacturers for different devices may differ because of properties like the number of lasers in the device and type of it: combs, band or cap.

For the indication, the common treatment regimen used in previous studies is 10-20 min every other day.

If you fail to follow the procedures as indicated in the guidelines, then you should not expect any significant results. LLLT for hair loss is not a short-term treatment plan, but rather a long-term remedy which requires dedication and commitment. Simply put, you should keep your hair follicles constantly stimulated as instructed by the guidelines.

  • Do not purchase unauthorized devices

Earlier in this article, we indicated that all the devices for low-level laser treatment for hair loss that are cleared by the FDA, are safe and effective, but the same cannot be said for the devices that are not authorized.

Since LLLT has become very popular at home, unlicensed retailers have seen an opportunity to exploit vulnerable patients by providing devices that are not authorized, albeit at lower prices.

  • Purchase devices that use medical-grade lasers

Low-level laser light and LED light mainly differ with coherence. LLLT devices produce a light that is of consistent frequency and phase while light produced by LEDs is incoherent – waves and photon light do not have the same phase and frequency.

What that means is LED light, unlike lasers, is spread more widely and cannot penetrate the deeper levels of the skin. There is no doubt that LEDs too have beneficial characteristics but once again, the successful studies which were reviewed in this article were based on LLLT treatment, not LEDs.

To be safe, go for brands that have been cleared by the FDA.

What are the different types of low-level laser therapy devices?

Since laser treatment for hair loss has got more attention, it is no wonder that we can choose from several different types of LLLT devices. Currently, there are three of them:

Laser combs

man using lllt laser comb for hair

With the ever-increasing advances in technology, science enthusiasts have upped their game and started incorporating complex technology, such as lasers, in products that are otherwise simple, like combs.

Usually, laser combs come with two rows of comb teeth, with a row of laser diodes lined in between them. The original concept of laser combs by HairMax had 6 laser diodes, and currently, the latest comb model – Ultima 12 is equipped with 12 laser diodes.

Compared with other types of laser devices, combs have really few laser diodes. However, it has an undeniable advantage – the teeth of the comb separate the hair which doesn’t let your hair block the laser light, therefore increasing its effectiveness.

Laser helmets

man with low level laser therapy cap for hair growth

Just like laser combs, laser helmets or caps work using the same technology of photostimulation.

One of the differences is in the design. You just have to put the device on your head and keep it for approximately 30 minutes, no hand movement is needed.

What is more, laser caps and helmets have many more laser diodes compared to combs, which is up to 272. That enables these devices to cover nearly the entire scalp at the same time.

On the contrary, if you have a lot of thick or long hair, the laser light may be blocked and hardly reach the scalp, reducing the overall effectiveness of laser therapy.

Laser bands

man and woman using laser band for hair regrowth

Laser bands are manufactured by HairMax and in terms of device type, they come somewhere between the laser combs and laser caps.

They have much more laser diodes than combs, however, you still have to manually move the band through your head as it doesn’t cover the entire scalp at one go.

The good feature of a band is that it also has teeth, just like combs, which helps to part your hair from the path of laser light. For that reason, bands tend to have the least application time, compared to other types.

Fun fact: HairMax LaserBand 82 and Ultima 12 Laser Combs were designed by Pininfarina – an Italian car design firm, the same who worked for Ferrari, Maserati and others.

Which of these devices works best?

As with all products designed for human consumption, there is really no basis to say that the “best” product is for everyone. One person may find a device handy and claim it is the best, but that is just their opinion.

Another person, who may have experienced adverse effects with one device, might discredit it even though it worked well for someone else. So, it can be a tough decision when choosing a device that is considered the “best” for everyone.

Conveniently, you can always look up reviews of these devices at any time from the comfort of your home. If you are not convinced about what you are reading online, there are alternatives to choose from.

You can always try out the device you are most interested in and see how your skin responds to it. If it fails to yield any results within the expected duration of use, you can opt for another device with a different mechanism of action.

Review of five best low lever-laser therapy devices

Here is a detailed review of the devices for low-level laser therapy. By the end of this laser combs, helmets and caps review, you should be able to make up your mind on which device would be best for you once you have considered all factors. The devices are as follows:

iRestore Essential

# Best LLLT Helmet for a Low Budget

irestore laser helmet

This is one of the more known LLLT devices you will find on the market today. The iRestore Laser Hair Growth System was recently renamed to iRestore Essential as the company has also released an enhanced model called iRestore Professional, equipped with more laser diodes. Be that as it may, let’s delve deep into the specs of this iRestore Essential device.

Features

The highly recognizable iRestore dome is made of white-colored plastic. The inside part of the dome is highly modified with cushions and a band whose purpose is to keep the dome fixed to your head during therapy sessions. A handheld controller is also attached to the dome which helps you start and stop the therapy sessions at your convenience.

21 medical-grade lasers and 30 light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are located inside the dome. These are designed to emit light in a specific wavelength recommended for this therapy. On the controller, you will also notice a display that indicates the battery life and also has a timer on it.

According to the manual, the sessions should last for about 25 minutes as the light-emitting diodes illuminate your head. Conveniently, the controller will beep to alert you that the 25-minute session is over. After this duration, the LEDs and lasers will turn off automatically and you are at liberty to remove the helmet.

What’s included?

iRestore Hair Growth System Essential
Power Adapter
Controller with LCD Timer Display
User Manual & Quick Start Guide
irestore essential whats in the box

Worth noticing

Originally, the device comes with no battery, you have to plug it in to use. However, iRestore offers you a solution to that – you can get rechargeable battery pack form iRestore which is sold separately and will cost you additional $79.99 as of now.

On the other hand, there is an advantage worth to be highlighted. iRestore offers an industry-leading 12-month money-back guarantee. If you didn’t find it working for you, send it back and get a full refund. For US citizens iRestore even pays the return costs themselves.

Warranty: 1-Year Manufacturer’s Warranty

Pros

comfortable cushions inside the helmet
1-year money-back guarantee
has a controller with a display
cheapest LLLT helmet in the list

Cons


Capillus 82 Laser Cap for Hair Re-Growth

# Best Looking LLLT Cap!

capillus laser cap

Capillus® is another well-known brand name in the industry. Its Capillus82 Laser Cap for Hair Regrowth is quite similar to the other common devices, such as the iRestore. Despite that, it offers way more laser diodes, yet, at a higher price.

With the basics in place, let us now see the specs.

Features

Capillus82 has a pleasing appearance, which makes you look like wearing a regular cap. However, it doesn’t have cushions inside, like iRestore, inside of the cap is covered by hard plastic which may get uncomfortable after a while.

One of its advantages is that you don’t have to plug it into the power socket to use it.  Capillus82 laser cap has a rechargeable battery, which lets you move around with it on your head.

On the contrary, sometimes you can run empty during the laser treatment session as the battery itself does not have any indication, thus, you don’t actually know when it is about to run out. What is more, you cannot continue by plugging it in, you have to recharge the battery and then continue the session.

Getting into the technical characteristics, Capillus82 is equipped with 82 medical-grade laser diodes, where iRestore, for example, had only 21. For that reason, Capillus82 has different indications for its use.

You should wear the Capillus cap on a daily basis for about 6 minutes every day. Once you have worn it, you can then press the power button to start the therapy. The diodes will light up automatically once the therapy starts. However, you should note that failure to meet the stipulated 6-minute duration will not give you the results you expect.

The Capillus 82 laser cap for hair regrowth is an LLLT device that is actually not too different from some of the other common LLLT devices, such as the iRestore.

What’s inside

Capillus Laser Therapy Device & Sports Cap
Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack with Belt Clip
Universal AC Adapter
Carrying Case and Accessories Pouch
User Manual
capillus82 kit whats inside

Worth noticing

Capillus® LLLT devices are usually way more expensive than other competing devices in the market. And that is with no good reason as apart of a pleasant design, they do not offer any other exclusive features which would justify the high price tag.

What is more, Capillus has a Complicated return policy. As they state, all sales are final, no refunds or exchanges with the exception of the Satisfaction Guarantee and the latter states that if the device didn’t work for you, you can only send it back in the time brackets of 365-400 days after the purchase and also have to pay a 25 % restocking fee.

That means, you have one month to return it, which is exactly one year after the purchase. What is more, you have to return it in perfect condition, pay 25 % of its price and pay the cost of shipping yourself.

Warranty: 1-Year Manufacturer’s Warranty

Pros

the most aesthetic look from reviewed devices
rechargeable battery
a satisfactory number of lasers

Cons

relatively expensive
poor buyer satisfaction guarantee terms

HairMax Laser 272 PowerFlex Cap

# The Most Effective Device in the List!

Laser 272 PowerFlex Cap

It is a laser cap by design and is somewhat reminiscent in structure to the previously mentioned Capillus 82 cap. PowerFlex laser cap was developed by HairMax, the pioneering company in laser treatment devices for hair loss. Starting with the first laser combs cleared by the FDA for hair loss treatment, PowerFlex 272 laser cap is the latest device by HairMax.

Features

Similar to previous devices, PowerFlex has a rechargeable battery pack and is mobile, thus you can move around while using it. When you charge the battery fully, which takes 3-5 hours, it will last you between six to eight sessions of 30 minutes. That means, for full-length treatment, only two monthly recharges are needed.

Considering that you will use the device regularly, which is three times a week, according to the manufacturer, it will last you between 10 to 15 years as laser diodes that are incorporated in PowerFlex are made of premium materials.

When it comes to the looks, the cap is similar in design to a baseball cap. The inner layer of the cap is lined by 272 high-quality lasers that are evenly spaced. The cap is generally lightweight and flexible, making it comfortable to wear.

However, note that it is “one size fits all”, thus it may be comfortable to wear at home but it is not designed for motion intensive activities like exercising.

The good thing about the Laser 272 PowerFlex Cap is that the laser lining is very versatile. It can be removed and fixed to your baseball cap, or any hat that you prefer.

The manufacturer also states that its BioLight Comfort design makes the use of linear lasers openings, which help to ensure a smooth laser flow, thus even if you have a full head of hair, the effectiveness of the device shouldn’t be noticeably compromised.

What’s inside

Laser 272 PowerFlex Device & Sports Cap
Controller
Charging Cable
Rechargeable Battery
Power Cord
Storage/Travel Case and Accessories Case
User Manual & Quick Start Guide
hairmax laser 272 powerflex whats included

Worth Noticing

From the devices mentioned in this article, PowerFlex has the most medical-grade lasers which are 272. It is more than 3x of Capiilus82 cap and 5x of iRestore Essential.

What is more, it offers a longer warranty than its competitors. It comes with a 2-year warranty for the laser diodes. But do not mistake it with a “satisfaction guarantee” term. The manufacturer’s warranty can be claimed only if the device is faulty or does not operate as it is supposed to.

If it functions properly but you just don’t like it or find it ineffective for your hair loss treatment, you are then eligible for a “satisfaction guarantee” which is 6 months since the date of purchase. What is more, in that case, you will have to pay a 20% restocking fee.

That means, during the first six months period you can return the product without giving a reason and get back 80% of what you originally paid.

Warranty: 1-Year Manufacturers Warranty (2-year for laser diodes).

Pros

The highest amount of medical-grade lasers
flexible – can be worn with any cap or hut
2-year warranty for laser diodes
manufactured by brand pioneering in LLLT treatment at home

Cons

relatively expensive
can be subject to poor ventilation, causing some discomfort

HairMax LaserBand 82

# The Least Application Time!

laserband by hairmax low lever laser therapy device

The LaserBand 82 is another laser product by HairMax. It is cleared by the FDA and boasts a success rate of up to 90%. It can reverse the thinning of hair and speed up hair growth very effectively.

Design and features

It contains 82 medical-grade lasers and ensures a very effective coverage of the head because it comes with patented parting teeth for this purpose. The inner layer also has a cradle that is designed to contour the very shape of the head and scalp. The front to the back application is simple, done in a sliding fashion.

How to use it

It should be used for 90 seconds, 3 days each week, and with treatments spaced every other day. When the treatment is complete, a blue indicator will flash and then become steady to indicate the end of the treatment. Consider the manual for finer details on how to use it.

Pros

fastest application time
teeth on the device increase the reach of the laser

Cons

the application requires hands movements

HairMax Ultima 12 LaserComb

# The Cheapest Device in the List!

ultima 12 lasercomb by hairmax

The Ultima 12 LaserComb is another product by HairMax, albeit with 12 medical-grade lasers. Despite that, Ultima 12 can be considered as the best laser comb as it has no equal competitors.

What’s in the package?

HairMax Ultima 12 LLLT device
charging stand
rechargeable battery
power cord
user manual

Design and features

The Ultima 12 LaserComb is modeled in the structure of a traditional comb, but with a complex design. It also comes in different colors.

Pros

the most robust device
of all laser combs, it has the most laser modules
teeth ensure high reach of laser light

Cons

not as powerful as other devices
the most expensive laser comb, you can find around

Summary

There are many LLLT devices available for the treatment to get rid of hair loss. However, these are among the most reliable products you can find in the market. You can choose the one that works best for you.

There is always an option to stop a treatment that is not working for you and to consider another one.  You will undoubtedly find a device that works well for your skin.

Also, note that purchasing your device from Amazon will give you a 30-days period to return it in case you want to. Buying directly from the manufacturer usually offers a 6-12 month money-back guarantee. Be sure to take advantage of that.

  • 510(k) Premarket Notification. SUMMARY: K060305 Lexington International, LLC LaserComb. Food and Drug Administration 2007.
    Summary (PDF)
  • Afifi, L., Maranda, E. L., Zarei, M., Delcanto, G. M., Falto‐Aizpurua, L., Kluijfhout, W. P., & Jimenez, J. J. (2017). Low‐level laser therapy as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia. Lasers in surgery and medicine, 49(1), 27-39. DOI:
    10.1002/lsm.22512
  • Gupta, A. K., & Foley, K. A. (2017). A critical assessment of the evidence for low-level laser therapy in the treatment of hair loss. Dermatologic Surgery, 43(2), 188-197. DOI:
    10.1097/DSS.0000000000000904
  • Jimenez, J. J., Wikramanayake, T. C., Bergfeld, W., Hordinsky, M., Hickman, J. G., Hamblin, M. R., & Schachner, L. A. (2014). Efficacy and safety of a low-level laser device in the treatment of male and female pattern hair loss: a multicenter, randomized, sham device-controlled, double-blind study. American journal of clinical dermatology, 15(2), 115-127. DOI:
    10.1007/s40257-013-0060-6
  • Munck, A., Gavazzoni, M. F., & Trüeb, R. M. (2014). Use of low-level laser therapy as monotherapy or concomitant therapy for male and female androgenetic alopecia. International journal of trichology, 6(2), 45. DOI:
    10.4103/0974-7753.138584
  • Zarei, M., Wikramanayake, T. C., Falto-Aizpurua, L., Schachner, L. A., & Jimenez, J. J. (2016). Low level laser therapy and hair regrowth: an evidence-based review. Lasers in medical science, 31(2), 363-371. DOI:
    10.1007/s10103-015-1818-2

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