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Narrow-band red LED light (ultra-narrow band) grows hair

Narrow-band red LED light (ultra-narrow band) grows hair

Narrow-band red LED light (ultra-narrow band) grows hairThe state-of-the-art hair growth therapy using LED light attracts attention.
Dr. Inui is in the front line of the research in an effort of finding out a relationship between hair growth and LED light scientifically.
What power does "LED" have?

Phototherapy has already been often performed, but an idea of irradiating LED light on hair is innovative

I am surprised to learn that LED light is also beneficial for hair.
What made you choose the research on LED?

It was when I heard a presentation by Dr. Masahiro Ogasawara who runs an aesthetic and dermatology clinic in Shin-Osaka at the Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Aesthetic Dermatology in 2008 that I thought I would.
Of course, phototherapy is commonly performed in the field of dermatology. For example, ultraviolet light (UV) therapy or laser therapy for skin diseases already exists. High-power laser therapy is used to destroy cells at affected site with its heat not only in the field of dermatology but also in other areas. Low-level laser is also well known to be effective in improving blood circulation and in activating the body. There are already some studies on LEDbased skin treatment reporting that LED light has a certain effect of wound healing or getting rid of skin pigmentation. As long as I know, no other study exists than that conducted by Dr. Ogasawara who uses LED light with a lower amount of energy compared with laser and apples it to hair. This was the first time I learned such research. I remember that I felt strongly interested in the study while I was listening to his presentation. At any rate, it was certain that LED light had a certain effect in clinical practice, but its basic mechanism remained unknown at that time. So, Dr. Ogasawara and I started a joint research.

Why did you employ narrow-band red LED light?

Inui Dermal papilla cells play an important role in hair growth. In order for LED lights to delivering to the deeper layer of subcutaneous tissue, I thought that red LED light with long wavelength was better. I used red LED light from the beginning.While we refer to them all as LED light, for in-home LED lighting apparatus, lights used interfere with one another. Thus, it is not suitable for experiment or treatment. Then, we used equipment which could generate narrow-homogeneous- band, pure red LED light by filtering lights. This is what narrow-band red LED light is all about.

Hair grows in mice on which red LED light irradiated

You mean the hair will never grow, even if you irradiate LED light used at home on the hair.

Yes. No matter how much LED light used at home is irradiated, all you have is light reflected at the epidermis.
We performed the first experiment in mice. We shaved hairs on mice, hair cycle of which entered into the resting phase and divided the mice into two groups: LED irradiation group and no LED irradiation group.
I made a hypothesis that if red LED light had some effects, the transition from the resting phase to the growth phase would be accelerated. That is, hair would grow at an early stage.We continued red LED light irradiation every two or three days, i.e., three times a week. There was no clear change for 2 weeks.
Since then, a marked change occurred. Generally, the mouse skin is white during the resting phase. When hair grows, the skin turns black. The area of black was increased in mice irradiated with LED light, while the area of white remained in mice not-irradiated with LED light. When measuring the area in black, we found that there was a statistically significant difference in the amount of hair growth between the groups. To tell you the truth, I only half believed until I started this experiment. So, I was surprised to see the experiment result.

Source:「Fushimi T, Inui S, Ogasawara M, et al : Narrow-band red LED light promotes mouse hair growth though paracrine growth factors from dermal papilla, J Dermatol Sci 64 : 246-248, 2011.」

Why does such a thing occur?

Next, for the purpose of investigating the mechanism of effect of red LED light on the hair growth, we irradiated the LED light on cultured human dermal papilla cells, collected the cells , and extract RNA or mRNA to determine what factors increased or decreased. There are several growth factors known to affect hair growth. Among them, we found that the levels of substances like HGF, leptin and VEGA-A significantly increased. We think for now red LED light promotes hair growth by stimulating growth factor secretion from dermal papilla cells.

Can LED light irradiation take the place of the conventional oral drugs or topical agents?

Inui It would be difficult. I cannot say that it is so effective that it can take place of Propecia or minoxidil. It would be certain that using red LED light in combination with these drugs produces greater improvement.

LED light advantages: safe and user-friendly equipment

When applying LED light to human, isn’t there any concern about adverse effects because the affected site is exposed to a large amount of light irradiation for a long time?

As laser used for epilation has a large amount of energy, the affected site will be heated. I myself have experienced laser for epilation. It is painful, isn’t it? Skin therapy using UV light may cause tanning leading to blister if the worst happens with a large amount of UV light irradiation.
On the other hand, skin gets warm slightly by red LED light irradiation. It causes no tanning or burn. I think the safety like this is the greatest merit of red LED light beyond laser or UV light. In addition, as LED light does not require a large-scale system like laser equipment, it is possible to downsize its equipment itself. Many prototypes have already been produced. Among them, there is portable equipment so that you can use it at home. I expect that handy-type equipment like a flashlight will be developed in the future.

Where is the research going?

First, I expect technological innovation in LED itself. If it becomes possible to increase the amount of energy while narrowing linewidth in wavelength, the effect of LED will be further improved. In addition, the mechanism of hair growth occurred in dermal papilla cells will be elucidated more clearly with future research.
Our study result attracts attention not only from dermatologist in the world but also from researches on laser medicine or physicians engaging in laser treatment.

Support the improvement of QOL by wearing wigs based on evidence

I hear that you have also been engaged in research on how wearing wigs benefits patients in terms of QOL.

The more severe alopecia a patient suffers from and moreover the younger the person is, the more serious distress the patient feels. There is a case where alopecia has a negative impact on his social life because the disease becomes a strong complex. It is said that in general, wearing wigs may improve this type of psychological state and makes the person live a more positive life. However, there was no data showing these effects from the medical point of view. So, we conducted a questionnaire survey in patients using the “Psychosocial Impact of Assistive Devices Scales (PIADS)” which is designed to assess the psychological effects of an assistive device in patients using an assistive device. The PIADS is used internationally. In a questionnaire survey of QOL in psychological status, it is generally evaluated on how the following three items are improved: 1) feelings of efficacy (people’s beliefs about their capabilities to participate in social life), 2) active adaptability and 3) feelings of self-esteem (a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value).

More effective treatment is now available by the practical guideline being published.

To come right to the point, wearing wigs improved all three items: feelings of efficacy, active adaptability and feelings of self-esteem. Also, it has been found that the effects correlated with satisfaction about physical appearance. The study has showed that the more severe alopecia a patient suffers from, the more improvement in feelings of efficacy and active adaptability the patient has made. This means that the effect of wigs on QOL varies by the degree of physical appearance. My initial attraction to the study was the Clinical Practice Guideline for Androgenic Alopecia developed by the Japanese Dermatological Association. The guideline is the one which was developed by examining various kinds of treatment including oral medications, topical agents or autologous hair transplant through scientific papers to make a recommendation to physicians if the treatment is supported by evidence. I thought that it was natural to include wigs used commonly in the Guideline.
This study demonstrates that “Wearing a wig makes you feel positive” has been proved scientifically as well. Our ultimate goal of being engaged in research as a medical scientist is to save patients who suffer from a disease physically and psychologically. Wigs recently have improved greatly. Thus, I guess that people who using AGA or anticancer drugs look forward to wigs. In my opinion, both researches are important; a novel therapy like LED is, of course, useful; it is also important to show that wearing a wig has supporting data.

Interviewer/writer: Takaki Hiroshige Photographer: Kuninobu Akutsu

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