By Jana Soeldner Danger
City & Shore Magazine
Worried about thinning hair? Now there’s an FDA-approved, at-home remedy that may help. No, it’s not a new shampoo or conditioner. It’s a cap that delivers low-level laser therapy to stimulate hair follicles, encouraging new strength and growth.
The battery-powered Capillus device, which fits snugly under a ball cap, emits photons of light that are absorbed by the mitochondria, the energy centers within the cells of hair follicles, says Dr. Alan Bauman, MD, a hair restoration specialist with a practice at the Bauman Medical Hair Transplant and Hair Loss Treatment Center in Boca Raton. “It’s a great treatment for people in the early stages of hair loss,” Dr. Bauman says. “It protects and enhances the follicle.”
Hair thinning happens when follicles miniaturize, making strands grow out weaker and less thick, says Dr. Bauman, who participated in the clinical trial that resulted in FDA approval for the Capillus device. Eventually, the follicles may die and quit producing hair at all. The low-level laser energy stimulates the cells within the follicle to slow or reverse the miniaturization and may also increase melanin production to darken graying strands. “It makes the follicle healthier so the hair is thicker and healthier and more pigmented,” Dr. Bauman says. “When hair is not completely gray, it can rejuvenate color.”
Not for Baldness
What it won’t do: make hair grow on a bald head. “If the follicle is dead and gone, it won’t help,” Dr. Bauman says. “It’s not good for baldness. It doesn’t make new hair follicles, it makes weak follicles stronger and work better.”
Hair loss occurs for a number of reasons, but the most common is androgenetic alopecia, a hereditary condition that affects both men and women and usually worsens over time. But when hair starts to thin, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice to be sure of the reason, Dr. Bauman says. “It could be a sign of something more sinister, like an underlying illness or hormone abnormality.”
If laser therapy is begun early, it may slow or stop progression of hair loss and regrow thinning strands. Treatment is easy. The user turns on the device with a controller and wears it for a prescribed length of time — as little as six minutes per day. The battery is recharged in much the same way as a cell phone battery.
The treatment is painless and has no known side effects, Dr. Bauman says. It’s not necessary to sit still and do nothing while wearing the cap, either. “You can do it while you’re out walking the dog or riding a bike.”
During the treatment process, hair growth is measured periodically to determine progress. “You won’t see an overnight response,” Dr. Bauman says. Measurements to determine whether the treatment is successful begin at three to six months, and visible results may take from six to 12 months. “We measure a bundle of hair, and as each hair gets thicker and stronger, the bundle increases so we know how well it’s working,” Dr. Bauman says. Ninety percent of patients have a positive response, he adds.
Successful treatment requires faithful use on a permanent basis. “Once you commit, you have to keep using it, like your toothbrush,” Dr. Bauman says. “You have to be consistent. If you take a week off, you’ll start to revert. If you stop, six to 12 months later everything goes back to where it was.”
Norma Beitler, a sales and marketing professional who lives in Deerfield Beach, started losing hair several years ago. She sought treatment from Dr. Bauman and became part of the clinical trial. She also learned she had an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid, and it may have been at least partly responsible for her hair loss. She was told the cap wouldn’t bring back hair that was already completely gone, but it could probably help in areas where it was thinning.
It did. “I’ve noticed the thinning areas are now much thicker,” she says. “It’s a preventative measure, and I believe it’s helped.”