At-Home Devices for Hair Loss

The pandemic has fueled high demand for at-home hair growth devices, making it especially important to become familiar with consumer options.

Pandemic lockdowns and concerns might prompt many hair loss patients to look for combs, caps, and other laser and light devices they can use in the safety of their homes.

But do they work?

Some have been shown in studies to safely grow hair. However, data is limited to a few device types, treatment recommendations vary greatly, and so can device cost, according to Ronda S. Farah, MD, who presented “Updates on the Use of Lasers Trending for Hair Loss” at the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting, in early October.

Dr. Farah, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota, talked about the evidence for using photobiomodulation devices to treat androgenetic alopecia and other types of hair loss and offered clinical pearls for making device recommendations.

According to Dr. Farah and coauthors in a paper published in 2018 in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, “The market for home-use photobiomodulation devices to treat androgenetic alopecia has rapidly expanded, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently cleared many devices for this purpose. Patients increasingly seek the advice of dermatologists regarding the safety and efficacy of these hair loss treatments.”

The pandemic likely fueled already high consumer demand, making this is an especially important time to become familiar with consumer options for at-home hair growth devices.

“I think these home-based devices might really see a growth in the market,” says Dr. Farah.

The Hair Device Market

Today’s photobiomodulation devices include lasers and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), also known as low-level laser therapy and low-level light.

Photobiomodulation therapy devices used for hair loss contain anywhere from seven diode lasers or LED to more than 272, with wavelengths typically between 650 nm and 655 nm.

“Nobody really understands how photobiomodulation therapy works. However, the hypothesis is that it stimulates telogen follicles into anagen through alteration of oxidative metabolism in the mitochondria, thereby increasing [adenosine triphosphate] ATP and implicating transcription factors,” Dr. Farah says.

At-home devices include helmets, bands, and combs, priced from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

NEXT: Research and Evidence in Home Hair Therapies