Learn About Laser Hair Therapy for Various Ethnicities




Hair density, texture, and structure vary among different ethnicities. However, unlike some other hair loss treatments, laser hair therapy can be used to effectively treat hair loss among all races and ethnicities.

Best candidates for laser hair therapy

The best candidates for laser hair therapy are men or women who are in the early to moderate stages of hair loss. The treatment will not be as effective on those who are completely bald or in the advanced stages of hair loss.

Lexington International chief operating officer Randy Veliky provides more details on how laser hair therapy works. Lexington International is the manufacturer and developer of the HairMax LaserComb, the first and only device to receive FDA clearance to treat hair loss in men and women.

A person does not go from having hair to being bald overnight.

“The hair grows in three phases: anagen (growth phase), catagen (resting phase) and telogen (shedding phase),” says Veliky. “A person does not go from having hair to being bald overnight. DHT [dihydrotestosterone], poor blood flow and environmental pollutants cause oxidative stress in the hair follicle. The stress causes the growth phase to be shortened, and the hair prematurely enters the resting phase and then is shed. The anagen phase eventually becomes so short that the follicle only produces a small vellus [fine] hair. When this hair is shed, the follicle may enter a dormant period and produce no hair at all. This is known as miniaturization. Eventually, the dormant follicle expires.

“The HairMax laser therapy has been clinically proven to extend the anagen phase, reverse the miniaturization process, and stimulate dormant hair follicles into being productive. Once the follicle has completely expired, there is not anything that can revive it. So the perfect candidate is someone who is trying to address their hair loss early, maintain what they currently have or even grow more beautiful hair.”

Laser hair therapy for African-Americans

Tightly braided hairstyles often used by African-American women and men over long periods of time can lead to a traumatic hair loss called traction alopecia. Mild cases of traction alopecia can be easily treated and reversed. Some extreme cases, however, can cause irreversible damage to hair follicles and significant hair loss.

Additionally, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), also called hot comb alopecia, is a traumatic form of hair loss that is often found in African-American women who use harsh chemical processes and heated styling tools. This inflammatory condition can be treated by eliminating these styling habits and, if necessary, beginning a regimen of antibiotics and/or steroids.

With both traction alopecia and CCCA, laser hair therapy can prove effective. In addition, the traumatic styling habits must be discontinued and other forms of treatment should also be explored with your doctor in conjunction with laser hair therapy.

Laser hair therapy concerns

Many patients are concerned about complications and side effects of laser hair therapy. Those with thin, sensitive skin can be fearful of burning and damage to the scalp. Generally, with other laser treatments (such as laser skin resurfacing), doctors must be very cautious with use on darker skin because the larger quantities of melanin in the skin absorb more light, leading to a greater risk of thermal injury. With laser hair therapy, however, this should not be a concern.

The lasers used in low-level laser therapy (LLLT) are referred to as “cold” lasers because they do not release energy in the form of heat. Instead of destroying tissue, laser hair therapy helps repair tissues by stimulating blood flow and encouraging the regeneration of tissues.

Laser hair therapy clinical research

With other hair loss treatments, particularly hair transplant surgery, ethnicity can be a very important factor owing to racial differences in growth patterns, hair density, and hair diameter. With laser hair therapy, this tends to be less of a concern. Nevertheless, it should be noted that very little clinical evidence exists concerning the effectiveness of laser hair therapy on those with darker skin tones.

“The HairMax was only clinically tested in light to medium skin tones,” explains Veliky. “We selected these skin tones to facilitate the hair-counting process. It is very difficult to conduct hair counts on a dark-skinned scalp. Our anecdotal evidence, however, shows that it is equally effective in all skin tones.”

With any hair loss treatment, the doctor should take into consideration the patient’s medical history and current hair loss issues, as well as his or her hair type. Hair structure varies dramatically among different ethnicities, but laser hair therapy has shown that it can be effective in treating hair loss — no matter the patient’s race or ethnicity.