Photobiomodulation for the management of alopecia: mechanisms of action, patient selection and perspectives

Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2019 Sep 6:12:669-678. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S184979. eCollection 2019.


Photobiomodulation (PBM) or low-level laser therapy was discovered over 50 years ago, when Mester in Hungary observed regrowth of hair in mice when irradiated with a ruby laser. At the present time, several different PBM devices are marketed to assist with hair regrowth in alopecia patients. This review covers the three main types of alopecia (androgenetic, areata, and chemotherapy-induced), and discusses the mechanism of action of PBM for each disease. The different devices used (mostly low powered red laser diodes), dosimetry, animal models, and clinical trials are summarized. Criteria for patient selection are outlined. Finally a perspectives section looks forward to the future.

Keywords: alopecia areata; androgenetic alopecia; chemotherapy-induced alopecia; hair follicles; photobiomodulation therapy.