You’ll see claims online that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is useful wellness practice following hair restoration surgery.
But is that true? Does HBOT help hair growth?
Well, the research is limited. One study found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help ease discomfort following hair transplant surgery. How, in terms of stimulating hair growth, the results were inconclusive.
Ultimately, hair transplant surgeries are on the rise. Some estimates project the market to grow to $15.16 billion by 2027. However popular, recovering from hair restoration can cause discomfort, with symptoms ranging from mild-to-moderate pain and swelling, to hair shedding.
As a part of a recovery plan, oxygen therapy may reduce some of these symptoms. We’re taking a closer look in this guide to hyperbaric oxygen therapy and hair growth.
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing in pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The air we normally breathe contains 21% oxygen. However, with HBOT, the pressurized chamber distributes air that’s 100% pure oxygen.
This environment allows the body to absorb a higher concentration of oxygen into the bloodstream. Ultimately, this increase in blood-oxygen levels is believed to facilitate a range of healthful benefits. These benefits may support hair transplant recovery, including:
1. Wound Healing
Non-healing wounds, such as diabetic ulcers and post-surgical wounds, may benefit from enhanced tissue regeneration and improved oxygen supply.
HBOT can create an inhospitable environment for certain bacteria, contributing to the management of infections, especially those involving anaerobic bacteria.
3. Tissue Growth
Hyperbaric helps prevent tissue death, or necrosis, by supplying oxygen to compromised areas.
How Does Oxygen Therapy Work for Hair Growth?
Hair loss, impacting both men and women, stems from genetics, hormonal shifts, medical conditions, medications, poor nutrition, stress, aging, and environmental factors.
While research on the direct impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on hair growth following hair restoration surgery is limited, there are potential ways in which HBOT may contribute to the healing process and support hair regrowth:
1. Enhanced Oxygenation
HBOT increases the concentration of oxygen in the bloodstream, which can support improved oxygen delivery to the treated areas. This may create a more favorable environment for healing and hair follicle regeneration.
2. Stimulation of Circulation
The pressurized environment of HBOT can enhance blood flow, potentially promoting better circulation in the scalp. Improved blood circulation is crucial for the nourishment of hair follicles.
3. Reduced Inflammation
HBOT has anti-inflammatory effects, which may help minimize post-surgical inflammation. Reduced inflammation is conducive to a healthier environment for hair follicles to thrive.
4. Faster Wound Healing
HBOT has been associated with accelerated wound healing. This can be beneficial in the recovery process after hair restoration surgery, where small incisions or transplant sites need to heal efficiently.
5. Minimized Complications
By creating an oxygen-rich environment, HBOT may contribute to minimizing the risk of complications such as infections, supporting a smooth recovery process.
6. Optimized Graft Survival
The increased oxygen levels provided by HBOT may aid in the survival and integration of transplanted hair follicles, potentially improving the overall success of the procedure.
7. Stimulation of Stem Cells
HBOT has been proposed to stimulate the activity of stem cells, which play a role in tissue regeneration. This could contribute to the regeneration of tissues, including hair follicles.
Benefits Of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Hair Growth
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Hair Regeneration: Scientific Studies
The research into HBOT and hair regeneration is very limited. Just one study has really explored the impact.
The study assessed the impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy during the recovery phase of hair transplantation surgery. The trial was conducted with 34 patients with alopecia.
In the trial, HBOT significantly reduced postoperative itching and folliculitis (inflamed hair follicles), minimized shedding, and enhanced early satisfaction compared to the control group.
However, the hair survival rate in both groups was similar at 9 months post-procedure.
This suggests that HBOT may be beneficial adjuvant therapy following a hair transplant surgery, but more research is needed to determine its effectiveness (if any) in stimulating hair growth.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy vs Other Hair Loss Treatments
Comparing HBOT to established hair loss treatments involves assessing its potential benefits and limitations in the context of available options:
- Mechanism: Minoxidil is a topical medication that promotes hair growth by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles and prolonging the growth phase of hair.
- Effectiveness: Minoxidil is an FDA-approved treatment with documented effectiveness in slowing hair loss and promoting regrowth for some individuals.
- Mechanism: Finasteride is an oral medication that inhibits the action of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone linked to hair loss.
- Effectiveness: Finasteride is FDA-approved and effective in preventing further hair loss and promoting regrowth in certain areas of the scalp.
3. Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT):
- Mechanism: LLLT devices emit low-level lasers to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair growth.
- Effectiveness: LLLT is a non-invasive option that may help in slowing hair loss and promoting regrowth, although individual responses vary.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy lacks widespread recognition as a primary solution for male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) or common forms of alopecia. While it may help in the recovery process following hair restoration surgery, there is insufficient conclusive evidence supporting its role in stimulating natural hair growth.
While the role of hyperbaric oxygen therapy’s use in postoperative recovery is evident, the journey toward recognizing its standalone efficacy for natural hair growth requires further research. As advancements unfold, HBOT holds promise as a transformative player in the pursuit of vibrant and rejuvenated hair.
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