Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss or baldness. Alopecia can occur naturally as a
part of the aging process in both men and women as pattern balding on the head, or it can
occur as a result of medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer. Other causes of
hair loss include fungal infections of the
scalp, and a mental disorder that causes a person
to pull out his or her own hair; these however are
less common than the alopecia that occurs with age.Stopping hair loss or regrowing the hair lost through
alopecia has become an industry in and of itself. For
those who have tried topical treatments and not
successfully regrown hair, or who wish to avoid the
pain of hair transplants, low-level laser therapy can be an alternative treatment worth trying. How Are Lasers Used to Treat Alopecia?
The lasers used in laser therapy to treat alopecia are different from the types of laser that
can burn or cut. These lasers are called low-level lasers, or low-intensity lasers, and do
not produce heat or damage the skin. Instead, these lasers produce light. The light energy
passes through the upper layers of the skin without harming it and is absorbed by the cells
in the scalp. Through this process, called phototherapy, it is said that the light energy
improves cell function, thus stimulating the healing process of weak hair follicles. The patients who have successfully used Laser therapy for alopecia
experience thicker, fuller hair. Many patients have seen hair loss stop as a result of laser
therapy. The best results are seen with multi-therapy treatments that can include over-the-
counter medications (finasteride or minoxidil), nutritional supplements (saw palmetto, for
example) and follicle unit transplants. What are the Benefits of Laser Therapy?
As a non-invasive, external approach, laser therapy spares the patient the pain and
physical appearance of surgical techniques such as scalp reduction and hair transplants.
Laser therapy can also improve the appearance of the scalp following implant surgery, and
promote faster healing. Patients do not have to comply with a regime of dietary
supplements or prescription medications, nor do they have to discipline themselves to a
daily application of medication to their scalps. Laser therapy works equally well for both
men and women.Handheld products are available for use at home, ranging in price from $400-$3,500. They
vary in quality and in power, and so the results will also vary. Although some of the
products may be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for home
use in the treatment of alopecia, the devices sold for home use are generally less powerful
than those used in a hair growth practitioner’s office. What is Laser Therapy?
Low level laser therapy (LLLT) is also known as laser phototherapy, cold laser therapy, low-
power laser therapy (LPLT), low-intensity laser, low-energy laser therapy, soft laser,
biostimulation laser, therapeutic laser, and, when applied to acupressure points, laser
acupuncture.Laser therapies use low level monochromatic radiation to treat illnesses and conditions
including hair loss. It is one of many treatments falling under the heading of "energy
medicines," along with other veritable energies that use specific, measurable wavelengths
and frequencies of electromagnetic forces for therapeutic effects. Low level laser therapy
has been used to relieve pain, heal wounds and reduce inflammation, but research has
not established a strong confirmation of its effectiveness.The United Stated Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved low level laser therapy
(LLLT) for the treatment of androgenetic hair loss in January 2007 when it cleared
Lexington's HairMax LaserComb, a product based on decades-old hair salon-based
technology, as a medical device.
What Risks are Associated with Laser Therapy?These therapies use red-beam or near-infrared lasers with a wave-length between 600
and 1000nm power from 5–500 milliwatts that have low absorption by human skin.
Treatment does not require anesthesia or sedation. The treatment cost is a factor in both
home-use devices and clinic- or salon-based treatments. Currently there are no widely
accepted standards regarding the dose, number of treatments or the length of treatment,
and little research on this therapy for the treatment of hair loss has been done to date. In
contrast, LLLT has demonstrated some therapeutic effectiveness when applied to arthritis,
pain, macular degeneration and wound healing. What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is the general term for hair thinning and loss, whether in localized patches, scalp-
wide, or across the body. There are several different types of hair loss:
- Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that can begin in childhood and
produces small quarter-sized patches of hair loss. The condition occurs due to
white blood cells attacking hair follicles. This condition can progress to complete
loss of hair on the head (alopecia areata totalis) or, even more rarely, the entire
body's hair, including facial hair, underarm and pubic hair (alopecia areata
- Androgenetic alopecia is a genetic condition. Baldness in an older generation
could be an indicator of baldness in younger generations. Hair loss patterns are
gender-specific: Male pattern baldness generally starts at the hairline and
proceeds across the top of the head. Female diffuse baldness maintains the
hairline, but hair thins gradually, mostly on the crown.
What Causes Alopecia?
- Telogen effluvium is hair loss following a systemic shock, such as the body may
Hair loss can be triggered by several different factors, including:
- Genetics. Male pattern baldness and female diffuse baldness are family traits.
- Diet, including malnutrition and starvation, consumption of insufficient nutrients that
support hair health or consumption of a toxin.
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications, including non-steroidal anti-
inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Stress and stress-induced behaviors, such as pulling hair.
- Chemical exposure, including some hair dyes.
- Systemic shock, such as postoperative shock hair loss (telogen effluvium).
- Exposure to radiation, environmentally or as a consequence of medical treatment.
- Hormonal imbalance due to a medical condition or the onset of menopause.