The Latest on Platelet Rich Plasma and Low Level Light Therapy

Laser and LED light therapy has been around for over forty years but only recently has there been good medical research on the topic. Platelet Rich Plasma injections (as in the vampire facials) is a more recent development.

Two medical journal reviews have been published on these emerging hair loss treatments. Both articles reviewed all the available clinical trials and they both made the same points:

  1. These treatments have been shown to work as well as finasteride or minoxidil in clinical trials.
  2. Unfortunately the PRP and LLLT trials only involve small numbers of patients (a couple of hundred patients compared with tens of thousands). This makes it hard to be sure that the results would be that good outside of a clinical trial.
  3. There is a great variability in the LLLT devices and PRP treatments available. There is also a big variability in the results achieved. This makes it harder to know how best to use these treatments to get good results.

So that’s where we are. What data we have suggests that PRP and LLLT are as good as drug treatment and maybe better. But that data is currently not very good.

I added another column in the chart. The bottom column summarises the result from the one trial of scalp needling. This trial compared the results of 50 men on 5% minoxidil twice daily with another 50 men who, as well as the same minoxidil, had a weekly needle roller treatment performed by a nurse. As you can see the weekly needling plus minoxidil group regrew an extra 91 hairs, the best result of all. BUT it is only one trial and the number treated is small.

So what’s the bottom line? PRP, LLLT and scalp needling all “work.” “Works” means that current evidence supports the idea that they improve the amount of hair by a significant amount. Whether that is enough to help any particular individual is a different story. We are all different and respond differently to different treatments.

Increase in hair number per square cm of scalp

Treatment Men Women
Finasteride 15 NA
Minoxidil 17 21
LLLT 21 24
PRP 18 18
Needling plus Minoxidil 91 NA

Gupta A, Foley K. A Critical Assessment of the Evidence for Low-Level Laser Therapy in the Treatment of Hair Loss. Dermatologic Surgery 2017;43:188-97.
Giordano S, Romeo M, Lankinen P. Plated-rich plasma for androgenetic alopecia: Does it work? Evidence from meta analysis. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017;1–8.
Dhurat R, Sukesh M S, Avhad G et al. A randomized evaluator blinded study of effect of microneedling in androgenetic alopecia: A pilot study. Int J Trichol 2013;5:6-11.