Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 2/28/2021
Treating hair loss is a multi-billion dollar industry, with a large range of products and treatments available that claim to stimulate growth and protect your hair from damage.
If you’re losing your hair, choosing the right treatment can help you to maintain your hair as you age and prevent male pattern baldness from affecting your appearance.
While FDA-approved medications like finasteride and minoxidil remain the mainstay of hair loss treatment, laser treatments for hair loss (also referred to as low-level laser therapy) have grown significantly in popularity over the last decade.
This type of hair loss treatment uses laser light to increase blood flow and stimulate the growth of your hair.
While the science behind laser treatment is promising, many laser hair loss treatments are still in their early stages.
Below, we’ve explained the basics of how laser treatment for hair loss works. We’ve also dug into the science behind laser hair loss treatments to look at whether or not they’re effective at preventing hair loss and stimulating hair growth.
Finally, we’ve looked at the typical price of laser hair loss treatments to see how they compare to other science-based options for treating and preventing hair loss.
Laser treatments for hair loss are designed to increase blood circulation and stimulate the growth of new hairs.
Numerous laser products are available to treat hair loss, including hand-held devices, laser caps and larger devices used in salons and clinics.
Unlike hair loss medications such as finasteride, laser treatments don’t lower your DHT levels or affect your hormones in any way.
Currently, the scientific research on laser treatments for hair loss is limited but largely positive. Many studies have shown positive results, although laser treatments haven’t been tested as thoroughly as hair loss medications.
Pricing for laser treatments for hair loss can vary based on your location and the number of sessions you need. At-home laser devices can range in price from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars for high-end devices.
Laser treatment for hair loss, or low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is a modern treatment option for several different types of hair loss.
The idea of using a laser to treat hair loss first appeared in the 1960s. During experiments using a solid-state laser, Hungarian physician Endre Mester found that exposure to low-power laser light stimulated hair growth in mice.
Although laser technology has improved by a significant amount since the 1960s, experts aren’t yet fully aware of exactly why lasers cause hair growth.
Currently, evidence suggests that low-level laser therapy may work by triggering vasodilation (a widening of blood vessels) and stimulating the flow of blood to specific areas of your skin, such as your hair follicles.
Researchers believe that this may cause your hairs to enter into the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.
This mechanism of action is similar to minoxidil, one of two medications approved by the FDA to treat hair loss.
Several different laser devices are available to treat hair loss. Large laser hair growth machines, which typically have a hood that fits over your scalp, are commonly used in hair loss clinics and hair salons.
Smaller devices, such as laser hair growth combs, hats and helmets, are designed using similar technology for use at home.
Like other treatment options for hair loss, low-level laser therapy has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Advantages of this type of hair loss treatment include:
It’s painless and noninvasive. Compared to procedures like hair transplant surgery, laser treatment for hair loss is noninvasive, painless and has a much shorter recovery time.
It doesn’t appear to cause side effects. Research into low-level laser therapy shows that it’s generally a safe method for stimulating hair growth that doesn’t cause the side effects associated with some hair loss medications.
It appears to be effective. Although the amount of research is limited, most studies of low-level laser therapy show that it can stimulate hair growth. We’ve talked more about the scientific research into laser treatment for hair loss in the section below.
Disadvantages of this type of hair loss treatment include:
It can be expensive. Since laser hair growth treatments need to be performed regularly, the costs can add up to thousands of dollars over time. At-home laser hair caps, helmets and other devices are also expensive to purchase.
It’s time-consuming and inconvenient. Compared to taking a daily pill or undergoing a one-off hair transplant surgery, using a laser hair growth device several times each week can require a significant amount of your time.
Although research is generally positive, it isn’t very extensive. Right now, there are significantly fewer studies of laser treatment than there are of hair loss medications such as minoxidil and finasteride.
It can cause issues when used with certain medications. Laser treatments shouldn’t be used alongside medications or treatments that cause photosensitivity.
Although there isn’t a lot of scientific research into the effects of laser treatment on hair growth, the few studies that are available are largely positive.
In one scientific review from 2014, researchers looked at the results of a variety of clinical trials of low-level laser therapy for hair growth. They found that laser therapy stimulated hair growth for men and women affected by hair loss.
One study published in 2009, which was featured in the above review, concluded that treatment with a laser device produced significant improvements in hair density and overall hair growth in men with moderate to extensive hair loss.
An evidence-based review published in 2016, which used data from five clinical trials, concluded that laser treatments for hair growth are safe and effective for men and women with pattern hair loss.
A more recent evidence-based review published in 2020 looked at data from 10 controlled trials of low-level laser therapy devices for treating hair loss.
The researchers concluded that laser devices appear to be effective at treating pattern hair loss in men and women. However, they cautioned that some scientific research appears to be linked to manufacturers and marketers of laser hair growth devices.
Overall, while there isn’t a huge amount of research available on laser treatment, the majority of studies show that laser treatment for hair loss is safe and effective.
Laser treatment for hair loss can vary in price based on your location, the severity of your hair loss and the type of laser device used during treatment.
When performed in a clinic, laser therapy will likely cost somewhere in the hundred dollar range — give or take — per session.
At-home laser treatment devices such as hats, helmets and combs can range in price from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. You can learn more about these devices and the science behind them in our guide to consumer laser hair growth treatments.
Although low-level laser therapy offers certain unique advantages, it’s generally not the easiest, most affordable or most convenient way to treat hair loss.
If you’re starting to lose your hair and want to take action, the most effective treatment option is to use FDA-approved medications such as minoxidil and/or finasteride.
Minoxidil is a topical medication that you can apply directly to the areas of your scalp affected by hair loss. It starts working in three to six months and can lead to noticeable improvements in the thickness and general appearance of your hair.
Finasteride is a prescription medication for hair loss. It works by reducing production of DHT, or dihydrotestosterone. DHT is the hormone responsible for male pattern baldness. Like minoxidil, finasteride starts working quickly and can produce a noticeable improvement in your hair.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a physician who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
If you have extensive hair loss, hair transplant surgery may be an option worth considering. This procedure involves moving hair follicles from the back and sides of your scalp (areas resistant to DHT) to your hairline or other areas with noticeable hair loss.
Hair transplant surgery can range in price from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, based on factors such as your location, the amount of hair to be transplanted and the type of technique that’s used for your procedure.
Although it’s expensive, hair transplant surgery can offer permanent results and typically doesn’t require multiple costly sessions.
Our guide to hair transplant surgery goes into more detail about how this type of surgery works, the cost of hair transplantation, recovery time and more.
Although laser treatment for hair loss isn’t as well researched as medications like minoxidil and finasteride, several studies have shown that it can stimulate hair growth.
Laser hair loss treatments offer several advantages. However, they’re also expensive and quite a lot less convenient than medication. They also don’t deliver the permanent results of surgical procedures like hair transplantation.
If you’re losing your hair and want to take action, it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider about your options.
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