A big congratulations to Dr. Ratchathorn Panchaprateep from the Division of Dermatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Chulalongkorn University for winning first place from the 2017 ISHRS Poster Awards for her work on the use of low-level laser therapy to help stimulate hair growth for patients with Androgenetic Alopecia. The award has brought international recognition for the study, which is a first of its kind in Thailand.
Dr. Ratchathorn describes Androgenetic Alopecia as a form of hereditary hair loss that occurs 50% more in men than women. Although commonly found in people over 50 years old, Androgenetic Alopecia may begin as early as 16-17 years old. Common causes for hair thinning and shedding include genetic heredity, higher than normal concentrations of testosterone at the hair follicles, stress, and negative environmental factors.
In the past, the only way to treat this condition is to slow down the hair loss by taking vitamins and performing hair transplant surgery. However, low-level laser therapy has been used in several countries for some time and has brought about promising results. Inspired by this, Dr. Ratchathorn decided to further the study with Thai patients, experimenting the therapy on 10 male and 10 female patients with hair loss problems. The observation was split into two phases. The first phase was a clinical research whereby Dr. Ratchathorn collected photos and recorded the density of the patient’s hair, analyzing the hair count both before and after the 6-month laser treatment. Phase 2, on the other hand, involved the doctor performing a scalp biopsy before and after the treatment to closely examine the treatment results under the microscope. Results of the study showed significant hair growth during the low-level laser treatment.
Dr. Ratchathorn explains, “Phase 2 requires both male and female patients to wear a hat-like laser device to cover the scalp. The laser will emit low-intensity laser to the hair roots. Patients are required to use the device at home for 25 minutes per session, 3 days a week, for a duration of 6 months. A similar therapy has been used to treat people with muscle pain, bone pain, and slow healing wounds. Today, the device still needs to be imported from abroad, but collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering is underway to develop the device locally.”
Dr. Ratchathorn adds that Androgenetic Alopecia cannot be completely cured since it’s a genetic disorder. Patients receiving low-level laser treatment need to continuously visit the doctor for treatments. Anyone encountering a similar problem may consult the doctors at the Hair and Scalp Clinic, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, to detect the symptoms, analyze the stages, and receive proper treatment in a timely manner.”