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Home of the Laser Messiah® -the World's Greatest Laser Helmet for Hair Loss
Learn about LLLT (laser therapy) | Build your own Laser Device
Home of the Laser Messiah® -the World's Greatest Laser Helmet for Hair Loss

An Overview of Diodes, Power, Wavelengths, and Other Terminology used in Laser Therapy / LLLT!

Understanding LLLT Terminology when it comes to laser therapy for hair loss!
Because KNOWLEDGE is POWER!!! Seriously, the more you know, the more you will be able to identify the scams out there --like devices with 21 or so diodes masquerading as legit!
It's easy to get lost when you are talking about LLLT! Reading this article will help you understand the BASIC TERMINOLOGY so you can better understand what we are talking about --and enable you to better HELP YOURSELF!!!
It's easy to get lost when you are talking about LLLT! Reading this article will help you understand the BASIC TERMINOLOGY so you can better understand what we are talking about --and enable you to better HELP YOURSELF!!!
Besides wiring, most questions about LLLT for hair loss are about diodes, power, and usage time/frequency! This section is just a quick summary -made up mostly from stuff on other pages- about these topics. If you want more in-depth answers, you'll have to look at other places on the site.

Diodes...



A "diode" is just a fancy word for a self-contained laser device. The strength of the laser device is determined by the number of diodes as well as the wattage of each individual diode. You will often see a "total wattage" number for commercial laser devices, and the get this number by simply adding the wattage. For example, I *could* refer to my laser helmet as [68 x 5mW=] 340 milliwatts.

There are three important factors when we are talking about diodes for LLLT and hair loss: wattage, wavelength, and diffused vs. undiffused...


About Wattage:


Wattage for lasers is usually given in milliwatts (mW). For our purposes, the higher the wattage, the less time you have to use your laser device. The standard is 5mW, and as of right now when I type this, higher than 5mW lasers haven't been shown to increase results, except for the fact that you are more quickly able to get the energy you need to your scalp (3-6 joules). If you have a device that you have to move more often because you have less diodes/coverage, obviously you will have better results if you are able to actually reach that energy level!

Of course, there is a lack of testing, studies, and information out there on the results of higher-than-5mW lasers vs. 5mW lasers, so we really don't know for, but know this: some of the really expensive clinical lasers use lasers that rate at 5mW, 650nm... and that company can afford to make that device with any diodes they want!

Having said that... if I could afford the 10mW vs. the 5mW laser diodes (they are $10 vs. $4, and that adds up with a couple of hundred of them), I would get them! ...For no other reason than just to make sure I'm getting at least the energy that the studies call for. BUT, unless prices come way down, I'm quite happy with the 5mW. ...And if I had to make a brush again, say for traveling purposes, I would probably use diffused 25 to 50 mW lasers like my buddy Mike at Regrowth (a.k.a. [BLACKLISTED word/name/company removed automatically] at HairLaserTalk) has done!

About Wavelength:


Look at this graphic that I shamelessly stole from the AiXiZ.com homepage:
The visible light spectrum -wavelengths in nanomaters
Ultraviolet on the left, Infrared on the right.
Towards the UV end of the spectrum are the short, damaging ones (think: sunburn!)...
...and Red and Infrared are the longer, gentle, THERAPEUTIC wavelengths!


You can see that the nanometers determine the color of the laser beam. Wavelengths on the left side of purple are considered "Ultra-Violet", and wavelengths on the right side of red are considered "Infra-Red". Ultra-Violet waves are the high energy, damaging ones. They cause tumors, cancer, etc. Infrared waves are of low risk to human tissue, and this has been studied for decades. "Low Light Laser Therapy" uses wavelengths in the red zone up through the infrared, and the wattages that these methods use have been proven to be completely safe with zero risk (a simple google of "LLLT, side effects" or "LLLT, cancer" will answer any questions you might have). This is why you never see green, blue, or yellow colors in LLLT devices!

Based on an accumulation of studies out there, the standard for laser therapy for HAIRLOSS is around 650 nanometers. This is because of a trade off involving brightness and penetration ability. If you remember, the higher the wavelength, the greater the penetration, and 650 nanometers will reach the depth of the follicles for biostimulation. Higher nanometers that result in an "invisible" beam haven't been show to be as effective as the 650 nanometers, and this is more than likely because of the brightness and color factor. The shades of red after 670 nm aren't as readily absorbed by the tissue because it more matches the color of blood (I'll have a link at some point), plus they become dimmer. It's a speculation that brightness is a necessary factor, and just the energy of an invisible beam doesn't give as good of results.

About "Diffused vs. Undiffused":


Some lasers have "focusable" lenses. What you can do with these is unscrew the focusable lense part and remove the lense entirely. This causes the rays to "diffuse" and cover a larger, rectangular area. This is what Aculas means by "digitally scattered", by the way... a somewhat fradulent sounding term used in their product descriptions. Don't be fooled by that terminology... nothing different is occuring than what happens when you simply remove the focusable lense of the diode:

Diffused vs. Undiffused
   vs.   



I personally feel that using "diffused" diodes is better because it allows for a more solid coverage area, but these are my feelings only and any added benefit hasn't been proven. Proponents of "non-diffused" lasers maintain that the tissue surrounding the small impact point of the beam is also positively affected. The problem is we don't know exactly HOW MUCH the surrounding tissue is positively affected, and I personally don't think it would be as much as if it was actually covered with diffused light (my opinion!).

However, using diffused diodes results in a trade-off between drastically increased time/decreased power and better coverage. This is pointed out in the "Laser Power Calculations by Guy Incognito" section. So basically, for the true benefits of diffused diodes to kick in, you have to have a device that has enough diodes to keep you from having moving it often... therefore enabling you to easily keep it in one spot for a long enough time period.

One other thing about diffused diodes, and you can tell this by the picture, the power is less around the edges vs. the center. The mesh diodes we use causes some overlapping of the diffused rectangles, so the overlapping of the weaker edges is probably a good thing!

Power...



Unforunately, these diodes don't power themselves, and don't come with easy plugs that you can just plug into something so that they will work. ...So that means that we have to wire them ourselves. To a newbie, this probably seems like it's the most daunting and scary part of making you own. I can totally understand that... it seems like a big mystery!

HOWEVER... this is a complete and total misconception with laser diodes! The diodes we use have circuitry in them that prevent us from having to do anything more complicated than first: connecting them all together, and second: connecting them to the power source! No resisters, no capacitors, no disgronificators! If you haven't read my "How ridiculously easy wiring is!" section, do that now and it will be all clear to you just how easy it is. You don't even need to use a solder gun... you can just twist wires together and tape them together with electrical tape!

With power supplies, we are concerned with two aspects: Volts and Amps. As far as the volts... you simply match up the voltage of the diodes with the voltage on the adapter. Since we are wiring "parallel", the volts stay the same throughout every connection. Now, this can get confusing, but don't let it... some diodes (including mine) will say an odd amount of volts, and you can't find an adapter that is exactly right. For example, my AiXiZ diodes are "3.2" volts, but the only adapters I could find had a "3 volt" option. This seems to be fine! I've had others tell me that it would even work without damage to the diodes up to 5 volts. Don't hold me to that, but just know that a 3 volt adapter is fine for the 3.2 volt diodes.

As far as the amps, it's simple subtraction. Your adapter has a certain amount of amps that it can take, and each diode draws a certain amount. I know that the diodes I use draw approximately 30 mA (milliamps) per diode (although it's probably actually slightly less, but it's a good number to use). I know that they draw 30mA a piece because I ASKED THE PLACE I BOUGHT IT FROM! lol... that's how you find that out!

Ok, That means that if your 3 volt or whatever adapter has 1 amp, you obviously have 1000mA. If one diode draws 30mA, then you can power 1000/30 = 33.3 diodes! Easy, huh!

That sums up every thing we need to know about the power supplies and adapters, but one other challenging aspect is actually finding one with the right requirements! We've found a couple of options depending on your needs on the "Power Supplies / Adapters" page, so check that out!

Usage Time/Frequency...



So... how long *does* it take to get the energy you need for proper biostimualtion (3-6 joules)? Like I've said in my essay, anything but a "ballpark figure" is very difficult to calculate because of the impossible number of variables! So, that's what we shoot for... a "ballpark figure"! Remember this key fact... laser therapy is all about long term use and averages, so more than likely that "ballpark" will pan out in the long run!

Most people reading this site are going to be interested in one thing and one thing only, DIFFUSED 5mW/650nm DIODES, so that's what I'm going to cover right here. Yes, one day have a page on it so you can see the formula "in action" for yourself, but this should be your plan of action if you have made a device similar to the "Laser Messiah" or the "Lemming", which is one that...
1) has diffused diodes,
2) has diode placement based on the "gutter guard" mesh system (more info on that all over the site!),
3) conforms to the scalp, and...
4) has uniform distance from the scalp.


Here's the answer: Use it for 20 minutes a section (see my blog on "Switchable Zones and Soreness"... and yes, you can have a full-coverage device with one section!), three times a week. If you've gone six months and don't notice anything (unlikely), do it for 25 minutes, three times a week. If after a few more months you still don't notice anything profound (ridiculously unlikely), ask yourself if you have enough diodes (I'm guessing at that point that you don't, or you have a flaw in your device and it doesn't meet the four points I spelled out).

Yes, I've taken the time to figure this all out before. Others have concurred my findings. This isn't a haphazard guess... this is the time that you need to be doing it for.

This roughly gives somewhere around 5 joules, and you factor in the variables that can increase/decrease the energy, it puts us safely in the "endzone" either way!

Let me mention something, too... I would venture that if a mistake is to be made, then it is that people use there devices for TOO LONG. Obviously, I'm talking about a device that meets the requirements I spelled out earlier (NO CLUE what it would be like if you don't adhere to that). So stick to the four points, stick to the time frame, and you are golden!

-OverMachGrande

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