Hair loss is one of those issues that leads to a “cross your fingers and hope it works” melange of solutions. The frustrating reason for that is because there’s usually not one particular cause behind the issue. While stress, genetics, and hormones can certainly contribute to thinning hair — it’s like a perfect storm for your follicles — there’s just as often no good (or easy) answer. In fact, chronic telogen effluvium, which is characterized by excessive shedding for six months or more, is usually idiopathic, meaning there’s no clear cause for it. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, these days, innovations are developing quickly, particularly within the realm of hair loss and regrowth. Some are so advanced that they seem too good to be true, while others are new, sleeker interpretations of already proven treatments. And, better yet, they can target hair loss in multiple ways. So, if you’ve felt helpless at the sight of your part growing ever wider or your quickly receding hairline, don’t worry — there may be hope (and regrowth) for you yet.
KeraLaseTM for Hair Loss
KeraLase is a marriage of two complementary treatments — specifically, the KeraFactor® Serum and laser LaseMD®. Let’s break it down: LaseMD is a non-ablative fractionated laser that offers little to no downtime. Not only does research show that this type of laser can stimulate wound-healing and, in turn, hair growth, but the LaseMD laser also creates micro-channels in the skin, through which its topical hair growth formula, the KeraFactor Serum, can be better absorbed.
The KeraFactor Serum is a topical formula that contains a combination of proteins and growth factors, which can switch the hair follicles into their active growth phase. With the addition of LaseMD, the level of active ingredients absorbed into skin is said to be five times higher than it would be without the laser.
While KeraFactor Serum sounds similar to platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, the former has a far more consistent delivery of growth factors. On top of that, there’s no need for a blood draw or injections. “The idea is to deliver a higher concentration of the specific growth factors that are really important for hair growth than is afforded by PRP,” explains Amy Taub, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Lincolnshire, Illinois. However, there’s a lot more research to back up the benefits of PRP than there currently exists for Keralase.
PRP for Hair Loss
While you can find platelet-rich plasma incorporated in a number of treatments, it’s become common to use PRP for hair loss as well. “PRP is thought to work by stimulating stem cell differentiation of the hair follicles and by prolonging the growth phase of the follicles,” says Houston, Texas-based board-certified dermatologist Suzanne Bruce, MD. It does so by using the growth factors present within your platelets to jumpstart hair growth.
These growth factors can be beneficial in treating other forms of hair loss, but PRP tends to be especially effective in treating androgenetic alopecia — in part, because it’s more tied to the aging process, and thus, more amenable to growing back with treatment, explains Dr. Taub. But, it requires a bit of an investment, since it’s not a one-and-done treatment. “After monthly injections for three to four months, many patients get significant regrowth of their thinning hair,” Dr. Bruce says. (Read a SpotlyteTM editor’s review of PRP for hair loss here.)
Microneedling for Hair Loss
Microneedling, either alone or with PRP, can be beneficial for hair growth for a few reasons. In the same way that you can rejuvenate skin by inflicting controlled injuries via lasers and needles, hair can similarly be renewed. “In addition, [almost] anything that can produce a channel through the epidermis or reduce the stratum corneum barrier for improved penetration of topicals [can] have a positive effect on hair growth as well,” explains Dr. Taub.
Microneedling shows a lot of promise when paired with PRP for hair loss. An international study in the Journal of Cosmetic DermatologyTM found that patients with androgenetic hair loss showed more improvement when treated with microneedling with PRP and minoxidil versus either PRP and minoxidil, or just minoxidil, alone. “This is the basis for the new treatments,“ notes Dr. Taub. “[They] improve dermal access for higher concentrations of growth factors specific for hair regrowth.”
Minoxidil shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.
Laser Caps for Hair Loss
Low-level laser therapy caps may seem like something off a late-night infomercial, but they’re actually legitimate — and have research to back them up. “A number of studies have found an overall increase in hair regrowth and thickness using different low-level laser light therapy devices,” says Dr. Bruce. While their exact mechanism is unknown, “it is hypothesized that the light energy enhances mitochondrial activity and the production of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP,” she says. The ATP works like a cup of coffee for sluggish hair follicles, waking them up and putting them into growth mode.
On top of that, they could also lead to vasodilation. “[Laser caps] essentially dilate blood vessels, increasing nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles,” says Dr. Taub, who notes that they may work best when paired with other hair loss treatments, such as minoxidil. Another big plus: Laser cap treatments are non-invasive and don’t involve downtime. However, “maintenance treatments are required to help keep the follicles stimulated,” Dr. Bruce points out. “It can be done every other day or at least once or twice a week.”