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Receding hairline? Balding? Frustrated with your head? This might help.

A little back story. I'm 22, and I have been cursed with crummy genes, which equate to me starting to loose my hair. I have never one bought creams, gels, pills, treatments, or anything like that. When I heard about laser hair regrowth, I decided I had to check it out and see what was involved.
So I decided to leave a detailed account of my low budget prototype.

Please note that this is only a prototype, a proof of concept if you will.

Also this should go without saying but... DON'T mess with lasers, lasers will destroy your eyes, I know people who worked with lasers, and did not use proper eye protection and now have irreparable damage. They are dangerous, even laser pointers. Don't build this device, I don't know if it works, it could be harmful for all I know. At the time of writing this instructable, it is untested. Its a bad idea to do any sort of self treatment of any kind without consulting a doctor, a lawyer, and prime time medical drama.

I am not responsible if you choose to build this.
 
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Step 1: Things you'll need

Picture of Things you'll need
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First you'll need some basic electronic and hand tools

Soldering Iron,
Desoldering Iron (ya know you'll mess something up),
Power drill,
Measuring implements,
Pliers,
Dremel,
Tape,
Multimeter,
Glue,
Tape

Some things you'll need
Lasers @ ~660 nm
Batteries,
A big hairbrush
Box of electronic junk (for switches, wires, pots, etc)
Circuity to drive the lasers (option depending on the setup)

A sense of adventure!

Also most of my information came from this article that I found floating around somewhere online.. Laser hair therapy It filled in all the gaps for figuring out what needed to happen.

Step 2: Lasers... getting the party started.

So according to my research, monochromatic laser light @ 660 nm is optimal for stimulating blood flow to hair follicles. Rather than actually buying real lasers, I opted to take the extremely cheap way. I found a lot of laser pointers on ebay for about $.75 per laser, their wavelength is reported as 630-680 nm, Close enough for a prototype.

When my lasers came in, I was shocked to see how craptasticly cheap they were. I broke about 35% of them in the disassemble process, which didn't really shock me. When I pulled them apart I found out that they had a little lens inside, taking the lens out caused the light to be diffused in a cool fat line pattern. This tickled me pink, I decided that this would be better than the dot configuration, because the light was more diffused.

I hacked all of my remaining laser pointers down with a dremel, and removed the button and battery clips, leaving only the limiting resistor and laser diode. This took forever and sucked. Then I soldered leads onto all of the laser boards...

Then I had 10 (arbitrary number that would fit in my brush) prepped and ready to go lasers.

Step 3: Putting it together

I decided to model my device after many of the commercially available brush style ones. I started with a the biggest hair brush that CVS had.

I carefully measured holes along the sides to put two rows of lasers, I then completely ignored those measurements and just eyeballed it. I then turned the brush over and cut out the side parts of the brush finger things with a razor knife. I decided to keep the center part, as it seemed to have a scalp massaging effect (which is also supposed to help promote bloodflow.) In order to keep it from collapsing because I had compromised its structural integrity I put a piece of semi-rigid foam underneath it and glued it.

Next was lining up the lasers in the holes. I used silicon sealant to glue everything down, because it cures pretty fast, and is easily removable in the case of prototyping like this. Next was making it all work!

Step 4: Wires and electricity and stuff

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Because the laser pointers had a rudimentary current limiting circuit, all I needed to do was match the input voltage. The Original laser pointers used 3 little 1.5v Button batteries, I simply upgraded it to 3 AA batteries, and soldered them together. Just to be on the safe side I put a 5K Potentiometer on, and carefully ramped up the voltage.

I actually have a bunch of parts on order from Digi-key for the next iteration, It will have a real current limiting circuit, I will be sure to post a new instructable for that.

I should have drawn up a schematic, but its an extremely simple circuit , Battery, Power switch, potentiometer, and the Lasers. Since the driving voltage was the same in my laser brush as in the laser pointers, I just hooked up the lasers in parallel , in 2 big wire bundles.

Step 5: Turning it on, and making it work!

Picture of Turning it on, and making it work!
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So once its turned on, it has these delightfully powerful red lines of light. The idea behind it it to brush you hair for a few minutes, letting the little finger brushes massage your scalp, and the lasers penetrate your skin and promote hair growth. DO NOT look at the lasers, they are really bright, brighter than they seem.

So I haven't really tested mine more than just once, but I plan to try it for a few week on a daily regiment, similar to what is mentioned on the link from earlier.... Laser hair therapy.

If it works, I plan to make a far more complex one. One that you sit under and it moves a row of lasers back and forth over your scalp, between pre-defined parameters, on a set time. It will also have the ability to pulse the beam, which may or may not help. It will pump out alot more power and use real actually tuned lasers. The current version is outputting less than 10mW of laser power, whereas competitors products run at ~60mW.

As always I love to hear comments and possible improvements from people out there.

Hope you guys enjoyed
hardwarejunk6 months ago

Here is a link to a recent double blind test probably funded and used for FDA approval for one manufacturers device.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3986893/

[incase that gets blocked www(dot)ncbi(dot)nlm(dot)nih(dot)gov/pmc/articles/PMC3986893/ ]

I am setting out to build my own too, and found this while googling. I can say that Minoxidil and Finesteride both work well... but not well enough...

arduinoe6 years ago
how exactly does this make hair grow ? if you use it enough and you think it will work MAYBE its a placebo !!! (the power of your mind) quite ironic having it on a hair brush ,what hair lol

If laser electrolysis, intended to permanently remove hair, hadn't occasionally caused extra hair growth instead, you would have a point. However, laser electrolysis occasionally has the unintended side effect of extra hair growth, which is the grain of truth around which "laser hair growth devices" are built.

i thought lazers destroyed hair folicles? i saw this thing on tv where this kid had hair all over his face and he had them removed with this lazer treatment

Laser Electrolysis, normally used to permanently remove hair, is where they got the idea that lasers cause hair growth: of the people who received laser electrolysis to permanently remove hair, a small portion of them received extra hair growth instead of the intended hair loss.

Lasers can be used for both.
alphalaug11 year ago

Gamer6460; I admire your creativity! You rock!!!! Thanks for sharing.

kretzlord1 year ago
Any results?
lapsmith1 year ago
Nice work! Did you ever build your improved version? I'm building the same thing but with 1 watt LED's. But I'm not sure of the distance and how many to use. Did you ever determine what is a good strength and dosage to use?

I found this discussion regarding light therapy and hair loss http://www.regrowth.com/hair-loss-forums/topic/does-led-light-emitting-diodes-stimulate-hair-growth/ and half way down the page a discussion of strength and energy.  But it isn't clear to me whether they are talking about input energy to the light source, or spectral power (light output). If it is spectral power, how do you determine (or estimate) it if the manufacturer doesn't provide it?
Fr0sty3 years ago
hair grows on you head to protect your skull from sun radiation..use this type of radiation on your scalp and the body will start grow hair there to protect your head.. btw, i'm not bald..never was.
 JFF,

There are lots of experiments and trials using low power laser and/or LED irradiation for medical uses.  Google is your friend, "low-level laser Therapy" or lllt.  Vets have used red and infrared LEDs for animal wounds and joint problems for decades.  Animals don't need FDA approval for their LLLT treatment, ;-)

Some studies indicate that lasers are "necessary", others not.  Most studies indicate that specific wavelengths are important for treatment, but as goals of treatment vary, different wavelengths are stressed for different purposes.  Infrared penetrates more deeply than most other wavelengths, followed by red.  "Infrared" actually encompasses a number of wavelengths.  Some studies indicate specific wavelengths, but it isn't clear whether those were chosen for any reason other than "these wavelengths are available".  In other words, 632.9 nanometers was used because it was what they had in accessible lasers.  630, 660, 670, 740, 810, 940 nm, etc are studied now because those are commonly available LED and solid state laser wavelengths.  Some studies try to related the "frequency" of various compounds in the body/skin, claiming that specific wavelengths of light make them resonate.  "Red is absorbed in such-and-such proteins (or blood, or water, or whatever)".  Following that theory, it might turn out that 663 nm was the "perfect" wavelength and gave better results, etc. -- but they still see some results using other wavelengths.

Some limitations indicated from research, SWAGs, and trials are:
Light intensity -- both a lower limit and an upper limit.  Measured in Joules, J/cm2, etc.  A lower limit might be considered similar to the "turn-on" voltage for an LED.  You might get a dim, dim glow at a lower voltage, but once you reach the working voltage of an LED, it suddenly turn "on", and you get much more radiance for each mW input than below the level.  Similarly, there is a plateau effectiveness.  Once an LED is turned on, the efficiency drops slightly as additional power is consumed.  The upper limit is when instead of getting a positive resonance from the cells that are illuminated, there is an exhaustion or burn out.  Not the best way to put things, but it's the best I can do.  : Below the radiant flux level, there are little, if any beneficial results.  Within a (largish) range of radiance, there are positive effects, with the increased benefits tapering off again to "no benefit" at the higher levels.  Above that range, there are indications of cell exhaustion, depletion, over-exictation, heck-I-don't-know-just-plain-now-you've-burned-it-out-ive-ness.   

HIGH ENOUGH LEVELS WILL DESTROY CELLS also.  Burn out those hair follicals, Ace!

Some studies indicate that monochromatic light yields much better results, while others indicate that polarization is important, and others still indicate coherent light is a factor.  My thoughts:  If it works, use it.  If it turns out that laser diodes give a "good enough" result compared to a clinical/medical chemical/gas laser, then good enough is great.  If LEDs yield results and you get those, then great.  There are enough studies that point to both of those results, as well as that certain frequencies work better for some goals.  It's experimentation, after all.

As always, "do NOT look into laser light with REMAINING EYEBALL".  As weak as the cheapy laser diodes are, the actual power/mm2 is high enough to do sustained damage.  Again:  EVEN CHEAP LASERS CAN HURT YOUR EYES.  If you're going to fool around, do some research, take some precautions, and don't shine the suckers into your (or others') eyes.

Common thoughts/findings.  Red/Infrared increase the ATP/ mitochondrial efficiency in cells. I don't know what the hell that means, but that's what they say.  Wavelengths also affect collagen production and indicates skin repair is possible, etc.  It's all there, in fine print, on the web.  Oh, some wavelengths may spur nerve repair/growth.  There is some research in Europe using LED/Laser radiation to remediate nerve damage/lesions in MS patients.  Other studies are looking at effects on parkinsons patients.  

A whole 'nother set of studies look at red and blue-ish LEDs to treat skin disorders.  

And as a final just-for-fun, the original "lasers make hair grow" idea came from experiments in the 60s (I think) trying to prove the dangerous nature of lasers.  The main experiment involved shaving the backs of frat boys (to keep the hair from blocking the laser) and lasering one side of the back, to see if it killed the hair.  Instead, the hair grew back faster on the lasered side.  Back to the ATP/increased metabolism thing.  The current thoughts are that the laser stimulation increases blood flow to hair follicles, energizes dormant follicles, and/or stimulates more follicles to grow. Oh, and substitute "rat" in place of "frat boy" above.

I made my own version a few months ago. Mine was very poorly constructed mainly due to the fact that I don't know how to wire the diodes up to a bigger battery like yours. Can I get some schematics from you? When I tried wiring them up like that they stopped working. Not sure what I am doing wrong. It sucks having to put those tiny batteries in each laser every time I do a treatment.
BTW----> Subfightr This treatment does in fact work. I have been using my own cheap version for about 3 months. The proper dosage is about 20-30 minutes per section of covered scalp at these power levels. If done properly you will see results in a months time.
First few weeks - No signs of working will appear this early
After 1 month - You will begin to notice that your thin hair is falling out at a much faster rate.
Month 2 - You will see some of your thin hair start to regrow. However. It will grow back noticeably thicker and darker. Each hair will be almost 2x as thick as the hair that fell out at the end of month 1.
Month 3 - You will start to see much more hair growing in and so on.

I still have thin hair up top. However I can see where it is working. In fact I have hair growing where it was completely bald! I just need some help with wiring these damn diodes. There driving me nuts!
Most people stop using the lasers after the very first stage. When there thin hair starts to fall out when that is the stage that shows the treatments are working. Results vary from person to person. There are only with a few types of baldness where this treatment will be no help.

Thanks Gamer6460! Good luck and don't give up to soon! You got to stick to the program!

Google Bio-stimulation to find out more.
So... Any results?
Subfightr5 years ago
I recall products beings sold much like this a few years ago, lasers that induce hair regrowth. They were all bunk. Do the research and you will find many pseudo science statements. No double blind independent studies are posted, just before and after shots of balding me exposing their bald spot, and then with their hair combed. "Thanks Laser Magic!" *Thumbs up* Kudos to you though for not trying to rip people off. I do hope all scientific evidence is wrong and this stuff actually does work, but it appears to be bunk.
tony545 years ago
One thing that most people miss is a 100w incandescent bulb puts out about 5w (5000mw of light). Most of it is spread out but if you hold it close you could get maybe about 20-25% of the light. I would use a 50w bulb (incandescent bulb NOT CFL the colors of the light are different). That way you don't have to be precise and gradually move it over large areas of the head. And you are trying a large amount of different colors instead of almost 1 precise color. Most consumer lasers are more directed but NOT more powerful than normal bulbs. Buy a 300w infrared or normal floodlamp and hold your hand in front of it. It will be very hot. Now try that with a laser pointer. Even modified pointers that light a match are much less powerful just focused to a point. This is a easier and cheaper way of doing the same thing. Sunlight will work but then you also get the harmful UV rays. I doubt if this works but you made the project easy and strait forward to try. Somebody leave a comment on it they think it mattered and use before and after pictures if possible. I want to see it grow like a chia pet !
Berkin5 years ago
That's a lot of lasers... They must be pretty cheap where you live. I wish you good luck regrowing your hair!
harigast6 years ago
i have now been inspired to dream up device of questionable application. i love how it looks. functional yet thrown together. like doc brown made it. also it looks like it shouldnt be anywhere near a head... or living creature. this thing is great!
Mr E Man6 years ago
Take a photo of ur hair now, and one in 12 months, then you will have before and after shots..
How much did you pay for the lasers and where did you get them from?
sask_quatch6 years ago
cool idea. definitely caught my attention. have you kept up with it since you've made this?
inbox00036 years ago
I won't name any names, but I think there are a few cowards here making posts who won't try anything until it's practically FDA approved. Great instructable article. Weird science on the hair... Screw the double-blind tests... Just show us your before and after pic and I'll make up my own mind... Unfortunately I'm 49 and have more hair than I know what to do with... It's coming out my ears and my nose and I have to use an electric trimmer on places I don't like to talk about :o) ... What I wanna see is an article on laser hair removal !!! The google adsense ads show a $200 unit to do that right on this page as I look at it ... Can we build one for $50 ???
Just wait. The hair gets thicker. You only have downhill to go now, mate. Trust me.
.....I built one a bit bigger ...IS..IT..WORKING..YET??? ( it tickles some )
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Plasmana6 years ago
This is cool!
lasersage6 years ago
Well written instructable, and an amazing amount of effort into making such a finished product, but I'm not sure I agree with the theory.
I've looked at this link http://www.newhair.com/treatment/other-laser-therapy.asp you posted and I'm sceptical at best. The language suggests bullshit all over the place (sorry if I'm being too sceptical here), "it is believed", "studies suggest", "theoretically", "may", "possibly". These are not the words of FACT.
I'm totally not getting at you here, just this article gets me frustrated. Pseudo science galore!
This sentence, if you can call it that, makes some of the least sense of all:
"Of the lasers in the visible region 670nm laser is considered to provide superior absorption (penetration)." Compared with what? No explanation in the proceeding or following sentences give any impression of what it is compared with.
AAAAAAAaahhhhhhhhhhh as I read this article I'm just getting so frustrated. They've even misspelled fluences at one point, but then spelt it right in the next sentence.
I searched some of the terms I didn't fully understand (biology stuff isn't my strongest point) and this culprit kept turning up
http://www.drkaslow.com/html/low_level_lasers__lllt_.html
equally baseless junk. There's no references in this "science".

Seriously I'm not having a go at the instructable. I'm totally impressed with the fabrication (except for soldering to batteries direct, which I'd never reccomend) but the science behind it looks a complete sham.
The effect may even be present for all I know, stimulated cells - light encouraging such a thing, all sounds relatively plausible, but I've yet to see how, why, etc.

Good luck with the hair growth whatever your method and great that people are willing to try these unconventional methods.
Gamer6460 (author)  lasersage6 years ago
Clinical trials have had interesting results, I don't have any to cite offhand, but I have been hearing alot about laser light therapy. I had recently finished a stint of working on set wavelength laser linear measurement calibration systems, and kinda had the laser bug. I had a friend who had it done professionally, and swears by the results. So I figured I'd give it a try It was a simple enough design, and thought I'd give it a try and see what happened. I am absolutely not the kind to blindly believe anything I see online, I approached this with a fair deal of personal skepticism. The quality of my initial build reflects that, in that I didn't want to spend alot of money on a glowing comb. P.S. Soldering to batteries is bad, don't try it at home
tradergordo6 years ago
Why would a laser do anything for hair growth? Show me some double blind clinical trials and I'll be interested. I think its a waste of time but I like the idea of building your own version of someone else's bogus product instead of forking over your money to some jerk that just wants to take advantage of people.
randofo6 years ago
This is an awesome DIY proof-of-concept, but are you sure that these are the right kind of lasers? I'm skeptical. I'm anxious to hear the results.
Gamer6460 (author)  randofo6 years ago
They were a little low on power, but they are at approximately the same wavelength as the professional models.