Will laser therapy help a 45 year-old woman with thinning hair?
I am a 45-year-old female and the hair on the top of my scalp is very thin. I don’t like the idea of getting hair transplants or taking a pill. I have heard about laser therapy but will it help me? How does it work?
Dr. Friedman’s Answer:
If the scalp hair on the top of the scalp is extremely thin and you do not have miniaturized hairs, hairs that are still present, the best method for hair restoration in the female is hair transplants.
If on the other hand, you still have existing hair but the hair is very short, which we are calling miniaturized hairs or hairs that are much finer and never tend to reach the same length as your normal hair, in that case low-level laser therapy can be very useful.
Low-level laser therapy works by increasing the circulation to the scalp and increasing protein synthesis. Low-level laser therapy also increases mitochondrial activity, which is the energy that drives the body, drives the follicle to produce more hair. There are some studies that have also shown that by increasing the circulation to the scalp we can also clear or block dihydrotesterone, the hormone that causes hair loss.
When looking at the female hair loss patient, we also have to look at whether or not the donor area is sufficient for hair transplant; whereas most men have nice, thick donor hair over the back of the head and also above the ears, a lot of women do not have good donor hair above the ears and only have good donor hair in the back of the scalp. For this reason, the donor supply is markedly reduced and therefore we cannot harvest as many grafts in a female as we can in a male. In those patients we do highly recommend low-level laser therapy.
What one needs to understand is that low-level laser therapy is a procedure that needs to be performed every other day for essentially the rest of the patient’s life since the follicle has a memory and once laser is stopped any gains made or any decrease in hair loss seen will be reversed when the laser is stopped whereas hair transplantation is permanent.
Laser therapy has been known to increase hair thickness and volume of the hair but it requires treatment for 6 months to a year before noticing any discernable changes.
— Dr. Shelly Friedman, DO
Board Certified Hair Restoration Surgeon
Arizona’s Most Trusted Hair Loss Doctor
Named Phoenix Magazine’s Top Doc – Hair Transplant Surgeon