Low level laser therapy and hair regrowth: an evidence-based review

Abstract

Despite the current treatment options for different types of alopecia, there is a need for more effective management options. Recently, low-level laser therapy (LLLT) was evaluated for stimulating hair growth. Here, we reviewed the current evidence on the LLLT effects with an evidence-based approach, focusing more on randomized controlled studies by critically evaluating them. In order to investigate whether in individuals presenting with hair loss (male pattern hair loss (MPHL), female pattern hair loss (FPHL), alopecia areata (AA), and chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA)) LLLT is effective for hair regrowth, several databases including PubMed, Google Scholar, Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Database were searched using the following keywords: Alopecia, Hair loss, Hair growth, Low level laser therapy, Low level light therapy, Low energy laser irradiation, and Photobiomodulation. From the searches, 21 relevant studies were summarized in this review including 2 in vitro, 7 animal, and 12 clinical studies. Among clinical studies, only five were randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which evaluated LLLT effect on male and female pattern hair loss. The RCTs were critically appraised using the created checklist according to the Critical Appraisal for Therapy Articles Worksheet created by the Center of Evidence-Based Medicine, Oxford. The results demonstrated that all the performed RCTs have moderate to high quality of evidence. However, only one out of five studies performed intention-to-treat analysis, and only another study reported the method of randomization and subsequent concealment of allocation clearly; all other studies did not include this very important information in their reports. None of these studies reported the treatment effect of factors such as number needed to treat. Based on this review on all the available evidence about effect of LLLT in alopecia, we found that the FDA-cleared LLLT devices are both safe and effective in patients with MPHL and FPHL who did not respond or were not tolerant to standard treatments. Future randomized controlled trials of LLLT are strongly encouraged to be conducted and reported according to the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement to facilitate analysis and comparison.

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Correspondence to Joaquin J. Jimenez.

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Zarei, M., Wikramanayake, T.C., Falto-Aizpurua, L. et al. Low level laser therapy and hair regrowth: an evidence-based review. Lasers Med Sci 31, 363–371 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-015-1818-2

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Keywords

  • Low-level laser therapy
  • Hair regrowth
  • Evidence-based medicine