Low-level light therapy (LLLT) has been used in the treatment of genetic hair loss for a few years now. Some previous research studies with LLLT devices showed that these devices can increase hair density or hair caliber in a small target area following treatment, but other studies did not. In some studies, this translated into patients or clinicians detecting an improvement in hair density with use of LLLT, whereas in other studies these improvements were not seen.
A research study from South Korea evaluated the efficacy and safety of a LLLT device that is worn on the scalp as a helmet. (Oaze, Won Technology, Daejon, Korea) The researchers conducted a 24-week randomized, double-blind study with use of a sham device. The primary endpoint of the study was the change in hair density in a 70- mm2 target area from baseline to 24 weeks. Secondary endpoints included changes in the hair shaft size and the satisfaction of the subjects.
A total of 29 subjects finished the study, including 15 in the LLLT group and 14 using the placebo device. The device was safe and there was no documentation of severe adverse reactions. Subjects using the LLLT device had a greater increase in hair density (approximately 19 hairs/cm2) and thickness (approximately 9 μm) compared to those using the sham device. Investigators detected a statistically significant increase in hair density in those using the LLLT device compared to those using the sham device. However, there was no difference in subjects’ perception of improvement or satisfaction ratings between LLLT and sham users.
Comment: LLLT users didn’t feel that his or her hair looked better with use of the device. Further well designed studies are need as we continue to explore how well LLLT therapy works for patients with hair loss
Kim H et al. Low-Level Light Therapy for Androgenetic Alopecia: A 24-Week, Randomized, Double-Blind, Sham Device-Controlled Multicenter Trial. Dermatol Surg 2013; 1177-83.