Using Lasers for Hair Growth

HowToLou is back with a rather interesting build: One hundred laser diodes for hair growth.

Before you guffaw at the idea of lasers regrowing hair lost to male pattern baldness, there’s a surprising amount of FDA documents covering the use of laser diodes and red LEDs for hair growth and an interesting study covering teeth regrowth with lasers. Yes folks, it’s a real thing, but something that will never get a double-blind study for obvious reasons.

[Lou] is building his hat with 100 laser diodes, most of which were sourced from Amazon. These diodes were implanted in a piece of foam flooring, a rather interesting solution that puts dozens of diodes in a flexible module that’s pretty good for making a wearable device.

The lasers are powered by three AA batteries, stuffed into a four-slot battery holder that was modified to accommodate a power switch. [Lou] has been wearing a nine-diode hat for a month now, and if the pictures are to be believed, he is seeing a little bit of hair growth. At the very least, it’s an interesting pseudo-medical build that seems to be producing results.

Hats like these are commercially available for about $700. [Lou] built his for about $60. We’re calling that a win even if it doesn’t end up working to [Lou]’s satisfaction. Just don’t look at the lasers with your remaining eye.

40 thoughts on “Using Lasers for Hair Growth

  1. It may not be the focus of this project and I don’t mean to make light of such a hairy subject, but off the top of my head I feel that using a Fez would help keep the array collimated. Adding lasers to any project makes it cool. And what could be cooler than a Fez with lasers?

  2. SO EFFING BADASS! I don’t have hair loss but I hear that nasa was using near infrared LED’s of s certain wavelength to promote muscular recovery, healing of wounds, and pain management.

    LED produced in vitro increases of cell growth of 140-200% in mouse-derived fibroblasts, rat-derived osteoblasts, and rat-derived skeletal muscle cells, and increases in growth of 155-171% of normal human epithelial cells. Wound size decreased up to 36% in conjunction with HBO in ischemic rat models. LED produced improvement of greater than 40% in musculoskeletal training injuries in Navy SEAL team members, and decreased wound healing time in crew members aboard a U.S. Naval submarine. LED produced a 47% reduction in pain of children suffering from oral mucositis.
    SAUCE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11776448

  3. NASA started this with research in wound healing.

    http://www.journeyofhealth.net/energytherapy/layout/images/HotHouse/Augmentation_of_Wound_Healing.pdf

    Near infrared Light causes nitric oxide to form in the blood vessels, which is interpreted by the body as a regeneration signal. The effect is transient – the NO has a half-life of about 3 seconds – so the effect is localized to the light therapy area and not much beyond.

    The before/after images from the paper are astonishing. Thirty minutes of treatment twice per day caused healing in wounds that otherwise did not respond to *any* conventional treatment after 2 weeks.

    Pre-made LED lights can be bought here:

    http://www.theledman.com/handheld.html

    (I’m not associated, just passing along the link.)

    1. What a load of tosh. If you have no association you should delete your link. From what it is claiming it should be a Class II medical device approved by the FDA. There is no evidence it is approved so I suspect it is being illegally placed on the market.

      The white paper is not connected to NASA, in fact it looks like a white paper commissioned by Anodyne Therapeutics which delivers no strong conclusions on the subject. It looks like they only managed to get a professors name on it by stating in the abstract ‘Further research is needed to confirm the results found in these patients.’ ie. We did not establish if what we’ve written is valid.

      I hope that (and strongly suspect) that everyone here is smart enough to know this is one big con and illustrates a huge problem with medical device regulation in the US.

        1. Sorry, I have to agree with JJ on this… it’s one thing to hack together an LED laser hat that /might/ help the user regrow their hair… and /will/ save them hundreds of dollars over buying the commercial product.

          BUT it is a 180 degree difference going from that to a link for “Pre-made LED lights” that claim to cure everything from the blues to ebola!

          When you make healing claims, you cross a line – you absolutely MUST produce results or GTFO!

          People on hackaday are surely less susceptible to snake oil, but when it is found it should be destroyed. Magnetic bracelets that “promote balance” and crystals that “align your chakras” should be driven from the market – despite being a multi-billion dollar industry, they offer nothing more than a placebo effect. The FDA has a job to do on behalf of the people, protecting the weak and the stupid from the malicious and the inept.

  4. The one curve shows good as intensity goes from 1 to 4 units then abrupt bad effect.
    Gotta watch level for sure.
    Funny, there was a early 20th century quack baldness cure that was a metal “hat” with a light bulb inside to sit under. It would have used a carbon filament bulb with it’s mellow dimness and enhanced IR.

    1. Jim – The “Augmentation of Wound Healing” link I posted was from a study done by NASA, with controls and good experimental setup. The model I mentioned (NO generating regrowth signal) is the assumed model and mentioned in several research papers.

      We’ve got studies, a proposed mechanism, and statistically significant results.

      What parts of this are pseudoscience?

      Is it a “this seems to me like it can’t possibly work” feeling you get, or can you post links to studies, reviews or data that would inform the discussion?

      1. The problem here is claiming that a paper not produced by or commissioned by NASA was. That’s flat-out wrong, and when you start off with a falsehood it discourages people from looking further. If you wish to know the actual extent of NASA’s involvement in this field and where things stand now, you can read about it on their own website:

        https://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/successes/MFS-31651-1-HEALS.php

        It’s a promising avenue of research with some good results already, but only one company has been endorsed by NASA and has gone through FDA certification for a consumer device. If places like LED Man wish to make claims such as “Good for sore muscles and pain relief from exercise. Boost circulation and has deep penetration” they need to submit their own applications to the FDA demonstrating substantial equivalence.

  5. It’s not a tumor!

    Seriously, the reason your hair falls out during chemo is that it kills fast growing cells, this is making cells grow faster, as someone pointed out above in mouse model studies. I’d be careful dosing myself with laser light.

  6. Oh god – this is as bad as homeopathy and nutrition fads. What’s next, gluten-free Pi-s?

    How many bald people have you seen in the sunshine – the ultimate IR source – who aren’t growing any more hair?

  7. I wondered whether this hair-brained method would really work, too, but had to take my hat off to a Dateline 12-month investigation into hair growth. Not a glowing report on laser treatment, but good enough to do more than skin deep research. I am too lazy to mess with a laser comb, and didn’t want to shave off $700 for the iGrow or LaserCap hats, only to get thin results. $60 is a hair less than I spend taking my wife to dinner, so I figured, it was worth a try. The bald truth is that I am getting slow, but legit, hair-raising results, wearing this hat during my 30-minute commute.

    NBC Dateline Hair Growth Challenge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUeJTjEKHfQ

  8. Ebay lasers like described: 3v, unscrew lense, 650nm, say they have a working life of 1000 hours.

    How often have you replaced the modules?

    How long is it switched on for / on your head?

  9. I am Leonard Stillman, Director of Professional Services at Lexington International, LLC, manufacturers of the HairMax LaserComb. This post is NOT for commercial purposes, but is to notify your readers of 2 landmark clinical papers that were published in April 2014, both authored by leaders in the treatment of hair disorders.

    The first one appeared in the peer-review medical journal, The American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in April 2014. The article provides complete information on 4 studies with 225 subjects, which conclusively proved the efficacy and safety of the HairMax LaserComb in treating male and female pattern hair loss.

    This article is entitled:
    Efficacy and Safety of a Low-level Laser Device in the Treatment of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Multicenter, Randomized, Sham Device-controlled, Double-blind Study
    (Am J Clin Dermatol. 2014 Apr;15(2):115-27)

    These were the results found in this study: “In four randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trials of male and female pattern hair loss, we detected a statistically significant increase in terminal hair density after 26 weeks of lasercomb treatment compared with sham treatment.”

    Below is a link to the complete article:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40257-013-0060-6

    The second one appeared in the peer-review medical journal, The International Journal of Trichology in August 2014. The article provides photographic evidence of the efficacy of the HairMax LaserComb used on subjects treated for at least 9 months for drugs and were either no longer responding or were intolerant of these treatments. The HairMax LaserComb was added to treatments with either with minoxidil and/or finasteride regimens, or used in place of these treatment. Almost 90% of patients treated with drugs and the HairMax LaserComb had significant results, and 100% of those patients treated with the device in place of the drugs, showed significant results.

    This article is entitled:
    Use of Low-Level Laser Therapy as Monotherapy or Concomitant Therapy for Male and Female Androgenetic Alopecia
    (Int J Trichology. 2014 Apr;6(2):45-9)

    Below is a link to this study:

    http://www.ijtrichology.com/article.asp?issn=0974-7753;year=2014;volume=6;issue=2;spage=45;epage=49;aulast=Munck

    These 2 articles provide conclusive proof of the efficacy and safety of the HairMax LaserComb for the treatment of certain classes of hereditary hair loss in both men and women.

    We invite your readers to visit our web site, http://www.hairmax.com, to see if the HairMax LaserComb is right for them.

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