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Laser Treatment for Hair Loss: A Complete Guide

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 12/16/2020

Updated 04/28/2024

Losing your hair and want to do something about it? While it may not be the first solution you think of, laser treatment for hair loss is a newer option for hair regrowth, and it’s safer and more tolerable than it sounds.

Also referred to as red light therapy or cold laser therapy, low-level light therapy (LLLT) stimulates hair follicles by exposing the scalp to photons that encourage hair growth. 

Below, we explain the science behind laser hair growth treatments and how effective laser hair therapy actually is, as well as other science-based treatment options for hair loss.

Laser treatments for hair loss are designed to increase blood flow and nutrient supply to stimulate the growth of new hairs. Currently, there are numerous laser products 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. However, while several studies on laser treatment for hair loss have shown positive results, LLLT hasn’t been tested as thoroughly as hair loss medications.

Pricing for laser hair growth treatments 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, 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, when mice exposed to low-power laser light experienced hair growth. 

Although laser technology has improved significantly since then, experts aren’t yet fully aware of exactly how lasers cause hair growth. 

Currently, evidence suggests that low-level laser therapy may work by triggering vasodilation (a widening of blood vessels) and stimulating blood flow to specific areas of your skin like your hair follicles. Researchers believe that this causes your hair to enter the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.

This mechanism of action is similar to that produced by topical minoxidil, one of the 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 the scalp, are commonly used in hair loss clinics and hair salons. Smaller devices, like red light therapy 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 or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, laser treatment for hair loss is non-invasive, 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. It hasn’t been found to cause the side effects associated with some hair loss medications.

  • It appears to be an effective treatment of hair loss. Although the amount of research is limited, most studies on low-level laser therapy show that it can stimulate hair growth.

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 time investment.

  • Although research is generally positive, it isn’t very extensive. Right now, there are significantly fewer studies on 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. If you take certain medications or have an underlying medical condition, consider talking to a physician first.

Laser hair growth treatments, or low-level laser therapy, aim to improve hair growth and treat hair loss by improving circulation and stimulating new hair growth.

Most laser hair growth therapy devices work by emitting a light that penetrates the scalp. Although the scientific research is limited, proponents of laser therapy believe that this may enhance blood flow and stimulate laser hair restoration. 

For instance, near-infrared or red light lasers can promote the repair and regeneration of tissue. Because of this, laser therapy is often used by dermatologists for wound healing and several cosmetic skin treatments. 

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At this point, there isn’t enough high-quality scientific research to confidently confirm whether laser treatments for hair growth are effective. 

The first scientific research into laser treatments for hair loss was performed by chance in the 1960s, when scientists studying mice noticed an increase in hair shaft quantity and diameter after exposure to a low fluence red laser.

Since then, various studies have aimed to determine whether or not lasers actually help to stimulate hair growth and treat male pattern baldness (also called androgenetic alopecia or androgenic alopecia).

Overall, the results are mixed but largely positive.

A review of clinical trials concluded that laser treatments for hair loss seem to improve certain types of non-scarring hair loss, including hair loss caused by male pattern baldness.

Another evidence-based review found that several moderate to high-quality studies showed that laser therapy devices were safe and effective in people with male pattern baldness.

A more recent scientific review found that 10 out of 11 studies on laser hair treatment devices showed significant improvements, with one study indicating improvements but not reaching statistical significance.

Finally, a 2020 scientific review published in Skin Appendage Disorders concluded that laser hair therapy appears to be effective, with a good safety profile and minor side effects. However, it also noted that some of the research conducted thus far appears to be associated with the laser hair device industry.

A variety of LLLT devices are available today, including caps, helmets and combs that use laser technology to thicken hair. We’ve listed some of the most common devices below, along with information on how each one works and its effectiveness on thinning hair.

Capillus® and Other Laser Hair Regrowth Caps

Capillus is a popular brand of hair regrowth caps. Marketed as “laser therapy caps,” they feature built-in, low-level lasers with a total power output ranging from 410 to 1,560 milliwatts. 

The products sold by Capillus are cleared by the FDA, and marketed as being “recommended” by physicians. They’re also backed by a small scientific study that showed patients achieved a 51 percent increase in hair count over the course of 17 weeks. 

Despite this study, it’s unclear how effective Capillus products are as a treatment for male pattern baldness. The company’s study was carried out on women with hair loss and featured no male participants, making it difficult to draw any definitive conclusions about its efficacy beyond female pattern hair loss.

Further, the study was supported by the company’s head of quality assurance and governmental affairs, which suggests a potential for bias in the study’s results.

Beyond this study, it’s also worth noting that Capillus has attracted some attention from the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau for its somewhat aggressive marketing practices.

Lastly, Capillus products are a little on the pricier side, with its cheapest hair loss cap selling for more than $900 retail. 

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Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription based products. Prescription products require an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary. Customers were given free product.

Laser Bands, Combs, Helmets and Other Products

A variety of bands, combs, helmets and other products containing lasers are often marketed as hair regrowth treatments for home use. Many of these products claim to produce superior results compared to other hair loss treatments, and in a convenient, easy-to-use form.

In general, the scientific evidence to support these marketing claims is mixed. 

Some products, such as the HairMax Lasercomb®, are backed by scientific evidence. For instance, a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology found a modest but statistically significant difference in terminal hair density between people who used the Lasercomb and those who used a sham device.

However, other products aren’t backed up much in the way of scientific research, and instead largely rely on marketing claims and customer testimonials.

Further, like other laser hair growth devices, bands, combs and helmets generally aren’t cheap. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars for some devices to thousands of dollars for others, with many devices bundled with thickening shampoos and other personal care products.

The cost of laser treatment for hair loss can vary depending 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 around the hundred dollar range per session. At-home laser treatment devices such as hats, helmets and combs can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. 

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Some scientific research has found that low-level laser therapy may offer certain benefits for hair growth. 

However, the research that’s currently available isn’t particularly comprehensive. Many of the studies on laser hair growth products are small in scale and focused on general hair loss rather than male pattern baldness specifically.

All of this to say, if you’re affected by male pattern baldness, a laser device might help promote growth and restore some of your hair. But a better approach may be to talk to a licensed healthcare provider about your options. 

For instance, FDA-approved medications can prevent further hair loss and help with regrowth in affected areas of your scalp and hairline — and they’re evidence-backed. 

8 Sources

  1. 7, J. S. J. (2021, March 12). Nad tells Capillus to end some hair cap claims. Top Class Actions. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/beauty-products/nad-tells-capillus-to-end-hair-cap-claims
  2. Aickara, et al. (n.d.). Examining the safety and efficacy of low-level laser therapy for male and female pattern hair loss: A review of the literature. Skin appendage disorders. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33088809/
  3. Avci, et al. (2014, February). Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss. Lasers in surgery and medicine. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944668/
  4. Bergfeld, et al. (n.d.). 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. American journal of clinical dermatology. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24474647/
  5. Darwin, et al. (n.d.). Low-level laser therapy for the treatment of Androgenic Alopecia: A Review. Lasers in medical science. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29270707/
  6. Friedman, P., & Schnoor, S. (n.d.). Novel approach to treating androgenetic alopecia in females with photobiomodulation (low-level laser therapy). Dermatologic surgery : official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.]. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28328705/
  7. Jimenez, et al. (n.d.). Low level laser therapy and hair regrowth: An evidence-based review. Lasers in medical science. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26690359/
  8. Low dose laser therapy for hair loss. Low dose laser therapy for hair loss | DermNet NZ. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://dermnetnz.org/topics/low-dose-laser-therapy-for-hair-loss/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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