According to new research published in ACS Nano, a wearable photostimulator could regrow hair for those who are balding. Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea used a device with 900 micro lasers to stimulate hair growth in mice.
Previous studies have found that lasers can stimulate hair follicles because they cause the cells to divide. Laser therapy does currently exist with no apparent side effects, but the expense of the therapy and the large size of the equipment make it an impractical solution to hair loss.
The newly-studied patches generate 1,000 times less power per unit area than traditional phototherapeutic laser treatments, making it more affordable and safer. Due to this low power grade, the lasers do not heat up enough to hurt or burn skin. The small and powerful LED lights shine vertically on the targeted areas with red light, which is believed to be effective at penetrating skin.
Researchers tested the durability of the flexible patches by flexing them about 10,000 times in a row. The patches remained intact throughout this test for robustness. According to the scientists in the study, this factor is important if the device is to be used on humans.
The wearable patches tested on the mice were each about the size of a small postage stamp and sat on the shaved backs of the mice. By wearing the patch for 15 minutes a day for 20 days, mice had noticeably faster hair growth, longer hairs, and a more widespread regrowth area. In comparison, the control group of mice that received minoxidil injections and no treatments at all had significantly less successful results.
Researchers used minoxidil because it is believed to widen blood vessels, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach hair follicles. This increased nutrient flow promotes thicker hair growth. Minoxidil is currently approved for use in humans with hair loss.
This hair-stimulating patch has not been tested on humans yet. Scientists believe that the patch will be very beneficial for anyone who experiences hair loss, including the 35 million men in the United States who suffer from baldness and hair loss. In addition to helping with hair growth, scientists believe that the technology in the patch has the potential to speed up wound healing and treat acne.