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 purpose of this guide was threefold: (1) to identify all home-use photobiomodulation therapy devices with FDA-clearance for treatment of androgenetic alopecia; (2) to review device design, features and existing clinical evidence; and (3) to discuss practical considerations of photobiomodulation therapy, including patient suitability, treatment goals, safety, and device selection. A search of the FDA 510(k) Premarket Notification database was conducted using product code "OAP" to identify all home-use devices that are FDA-cleared to treat androgenetic alopecia. Thirteen commercially available devices were identified and compared. Devices varied in shape, wavelength, light sources, technical features, price, and level of clinical evidence. To date, there are no head-to-head studies comparing the efficacy of these devices. Photobiomodulation therapy devices have an excellent safety profile and mounting evidence supporting their efficacy. However, long-term, high quality studies comparing these devices in diverse populations are lacking. As these devices become increasingly popular, dermatologists should be familiar with this treatment modality to add to their therapeutic armamentarium.
Abbreviations: AGA, androgenetic alopecia; FDA, Food and Drug Administration; IEC, International Electrotechnical Commission; LED, light-emitting diode; PBMT, photobiomodulation therapy.
Keywords: Photobiomodulation therapy; alopecia; lasers and light sources; low-level light therapy.