Use Laser Hair Therapy At Home: The Hand-Held Laser Comb
Is it really possible to comb away your hair loss at home with a hand-held laser comb? It all depends.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), or laser hair therapy, is the application of small light diodes in a very specific spectrum of light to stimulate hair growth. People who use Laser hair therapy are experiencing androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness.
Testing the efficacy of laser hair therapy -- its ability to actually stem hair loss and revive lost hair follicles -- has provided mixed results. One study published in 2003, 'Hair Regrowth and Increased Hair Tensile Strength Using the HairMax LaserComb for Low-Level Laser Therapy' (J. Satino and M. Markou, International Journal of Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Dermatology 5, no. 2 ), was on 28 men, ages 28 to 72, and seven women, ages 46 to 76, all of whom had some degree of hair loss in the temporal and vertex regions of the scalp.
Of note, the test was done on self-administered, handheld laser combs. Study participants were instructed to comb their hair with the device for five to ten minutes per day every other day. The technique used, as recommended by the laser comb manufacturer, is to move through dry hair and scalp at the rate of 1 inch per four seconds.
Before-and-after measurements of tensile strength of the hair and hair counts in a designated 1 square centimeter were taken. The results of this small study were that tensile strength improved 78.9 percent overall and hair counts went up 93.5 percent.
Amazing, yes? Well, to a point. Note that this effect was experienced where there was hair. Prior and subsequent experience shows that this only minimally restores hair already lost. Another study, published in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy (11, no 2, M. Avram and N. Rogers, 'The Use of Low-Level Light for Hair Growth,' Cornell Department of Dermatology/Tulane Department of Dermatology [June 2009, 110-117]) found the following:
The results indicate that on average patients had a decrease in the number of vellus hairs, an increase in the number of terminal hairs, and an increase in shaft diameter. However, paired i-testing indicated that none of these changes was statistically significant. Also, blinded evaluation of global images did not support an improvement in hair density or caliber.
Conclusions: LLLT may be a promising hair loss treatment option for patients who do not respond to either finasteride or minoxidil, and who do not want to undergo hair transplantation. This technology appears to work better for some people than for others. Factors predicting who will most benefit are yet to be determined. Larger, longer-term placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm these findings, and demonstrate statistical significance, or refute them altogether.
Which presents a more mixed picture of how well laser hair therapy works. That said, the handheld laser combs are a popular item sold under several different brand names. What might be considered the competition -- in-studio laser treatments, generally sold as a yearlong package at a much higher price -- often ends up being a precursor to a laser comb purchase. That's because patients of in-studio programs often purchase a handheld device as part of a maintenance regimen after the in-studio program is complete.