I know, I know. Your loss of hair is stressing you out and you just need the quickest and surest remedy to correct the situation. I feel you on this one. Which is why I’ve dedicated this article to discuss a specific treatment option which might be a great addition to your overall regimen.
While there are many factors that can cause hair loss, there are also proven treatment options that can significantly benefit you, depending on your condition. Ideally, treatment is always 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. People lose about 100 strands of hair from their scalp every day. The good news is that most of these people will regrow the hair they lost as that is a completely normal rate. However, others may be incessantly losing hair without any regeneration of the hair going on.
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, and you are looking for a solution. Well, 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. Thus, despite its novelty, laser therapy is among the commonly used treatment methods nowadays. 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, in more scientific terms – photobiomodulation.
LLLT was initially pioneered by Hungarian physician Endre Mester in 1967, who found that light of low power lasers, applied on the skin, have biological effects such as increased blood circulation and enhanced cells regeneration.
In early 2000s Lexington International, LLC under the brand name of HairMax started to manufacture LLLT devices – combs – for hair loss treatment at home. Seven years later, on January 2007, The HairMax LaserComb® was the first-ever medical low-level laser therapy device cleared by the food and drug administration FDA for treatment of male androgenetic alopecia.
Four years later, in 2011, FDA clearance for treatment of female pattern baldness followed. Currently, It is by far one of the only treatment methods for hair loss that are confirmed in some form by the FDA. Other two are oral finasteride and topical 5% minoxidil.
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.
2016 study that was posted in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) journal 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 where subjects are human with androgenetic alopecia.
A simplified summary of studies, evaluating the efficacy of LLLT in hair loss treatment
|Author, year||Treatment regimen||Assessed parameters||Effectiveness|
|Satino et al. 2003||5-10 min, every other day for 6 months||hair count, tensile strength||yes, in both sexes|
|Yamazaki et al. 2003||3 min, once every 1-2 weeks||hair regrowth||yes|
|Waiz et al. 2006||Four sessions basis, once a week||hair regrowth observation||yes|
|Kim SS et al. 2007||10 min once a day for 14 weeks||hair density, patient satisfaction||yes|
|Avram et al. 2009||20 min, twice a week for 3-6 months||hair count||no significant changes|
|Leavitt et al. 2009||15 min, 3 times a week for 26 weeks||computer-aided hair count||yes|
|Rushton et al. 2012||7.5 min, 3 times a week for 26 weeks||trichogram, phototrichogram||no improvements|
|Kim et al. 2013||18 min, daily for 24 weeks||hair density, investigator and subject global assessment||yes (no significance according to the subject)|
|Munck et al. 2014||8-15 min, 3 times a week||hair growth observation||yes|
|Lanzafame et al. 2014||25 mins, every other day for 16 weeks||hair count||yes, compared to placebo group|
|Jimenez et al. 2014||8-15 min, 3 times a week for 26 weeks||hair density, patients self-assessment||yes|
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 laser treatment results 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.
Taking into account one particular peer-reviewed study, Jimenez et al. 2014, found out that nearly all subjects in the sample of 122 females 102 males experienced an increase in hair count during 26 weeks trial.
The study was based on 3 times a week treatment for 8-15 mins using HairMax laser comb. The illustration below shows the successful results of a female and male subject in the study.
Another 2017 year study confirmed that low-level laser therapy was effective in improving both 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, as well as the 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?
Studies that support the use of LLLT have indicated that the possible mechanism through which this treatment helps to enhance hair growth is by stimulating the stem cells of the epidermis in the hair follicles.
In short, this stimulation causes the hair follicle to bulge, which then rapidly shifts it into the rapid growth phase of the hair called the anagen phase.
Shifting hair follicles to the anagenic phase causes normal and progressive growth of the hair.
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 duration of time it takes before you see results will depend on the device you use. But very often, there is not much difference.
Ideally, you should be able to notice significant results on average within 2 to 6 months after initiation of treatment.
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 user guideline.
- 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 approved by the FDA are safe and effective, but the same cannot be said for the devices that are not authorized.
Being that 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 that LEDs light, not like 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 the 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 gotten its traction, no wonder we can choose from several different types of LLLT devices. Currently, there are three of them:
With the ever-increasing technology, science enthusiasts have upped their game and have started incorporating complex technology, such as lasers, in products that are otherwise simple, like combs.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what they are – combing hair has been a common practice for ages. And its concept has become a body for one type of LLLT devices not without a reason.
Usually, laser combs come with two rows of comb teeth with a row of laser diodes lined in between them. Since the original concept of laser combs by HairMax, combs 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 lasers. However, it has some undeniable advantage – teeth of the comb separates the hair which doesn’t let your hair to block the laser light, thus, increasing its effectiveness.
Just like laser combs, laser helmets or caps work using the same technology of photobiostimulation.
One of the differences is in the design. You just put the device on your head and keep it for the session time of approx. 25-30 mins., no hands movement is involved.
What is more, laser caps and helmets have way more laser diodes, compared to combs, which is usually 51 – 282. That gives these devices the ability to cover nearly all of the scalp at the same time.
On the contrary, if you still have a lot of thick or long hair, laser light may be blocked and hardly reach the scalp, reducing the overall effectiveness of laser therapy.
Laser bands are only manufactured by HairMax and in terms of device type, they come somewhere between the laser combs and laser caps.
On one side, they have much more laser diodes than combs, however, you still have to move the band through your head manually as it doesn’t cover the entire scalp at once.
The good feature of a band is that it also has teeth, just like combs, which helps to remove 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 baseline 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” one for everyone.
Conveniently, you can always look up reviews of these devices at any time from the comfort of your phone. If you are not convinced about what you are reading online, there is also another alternative that is relatively appropriate.
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 modus operandi.
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:
# Best LLLT Helmet for a Low Budget
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
HairMax Laser 272 PowerFlex Cap
# The Most Effective Device in the List!
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.
Similarly 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.
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).
HairMax LaserBand 82
# The Least Application Time!
The LaserBand 82 is another laser product by HairMax. It is approved 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 which 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.
HairMax Ultima 12 LaserComb
# The Cheapest Device in the List!
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?
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.
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.