Posted on Jul 31, 2019, 4 p.m.
Red light therapy uses a low wavelength red light to help resolve skin issues such as scarring and signs of aging including age spots and wrinkles.
There are some studies to back up these claims, but it is not a miracle cure. Anyone considering using this therapy should also take other steps to promote skin health, and keep in mind that improper use may also cause some side effects. It is also advised to consult with a doctor to ensure that red light therapy is best for them.
This is a procedure involving exposing skin to low wavelength red light, it is also called low level laser light therapy; the red light is natural and is thought to penetrate deep into the skin to where cells can absorb and use it.
Mitochondria in skin cells can absorb these light particles, which can help cells to produce more adenosine triphosphate energy according to a study published in the journal Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery.; cells may be able to respond better to damage and rejuvenate themselves with this extra energy.
There is research into this therapy but results have been inconsistent, meaning that there still is no conclusive evidence that is of benefit; some studies show promise but note that more extensive clinical studies are needed to determine the potential applications of red light therapy.
A review in the journal Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery notes that red light therapy may help to rejuvenate the skin by increasing collagen production, increasing fibroblast production, increasing circulation between blood and tissue cells, protecting cells from damage, increasing mRNA in cells, improving facial texture, reducing fine lines, and reducing wrinkle severity.
A clinical trial published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery found that red light therapy could rejuvenate skin, improve complexion, and improve the feeling of skin. Results were from a small sampling of 136 people and show potential, but is not enough to be conclusive that it will work in every case for all people.
Another review published in Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery suggests that forms of light therapy are potential alternatives for treatment for acne vulgaris. Sunlight can alter the way sebaceous glands behave which produce sebum that may clog pores and cause acne; sunlight may help to calm overactive glands. Exposure to sunlight comes with exposure to ultraviolet light which may cause other issues. Red light therapy alone or in combination with other treatments such as blue light therapy may be effective at treating acne vulgaris, as the light appears to penetrate deeply to affect sebum production and reduce inflammation as well as irritation in the area.
A study published in Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia suggests that red light therapy may help wound healing by reducing inflammation in the cells, stimulating new blood vessels to form, increasing helpful fibroblasts in the skin, and by increasing collagen production.
The Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy published a small study revealing that those with alopecia who received red light therapy had improved hair density in those who had light applied in wavelengths of 665 and 808 nanometers.
Red light therapy may effectively reduce pain in adults with certain musculoskeletal disorders according to a review published in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.
RLT may help accelerate healing after treatment for facial bone defects as well as reducing inflammation and pain during the process according to another study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology., but the researchers called for a more standardized approach to determine whether it was effective.
RLT may help to treat inflammation which is typically at the root of most conditions. Although most research in this area is preliminary they are showing promising anti-inflammatory results.
Red light therapy is a natural process that exposes skin to low levels of light that are not harmful. As such, there is almost no risk of side effects, however an un-experienced practitioner who uses too much may cause tissue and cell damage so it is best to ensure the practitioner is experienced.
A low operating cost is involved in red light therapy, it is not used in a traditional sense, and is widely available. Many establishments such as gyms, day spas, tanning salons, saunas, wellness centers and dermatology offices offer red light therapy rooms or lamps.
For those looking to purchase at home devices it is best to ensure the device delivers red light within the effective wavelengths, and be sure not to overuse it.
Insurance does not typically cover red light therapy, but some dermatologists may offer targeted red light therapy application. It may take several treatments before changes in skin are noticed.
While red light therapy may be a part of a complete skin care routine it should not be the only way to look after skin. If uncertain if this a suitable practice for you, talk to your doctor to discuss whether or not it may be of benefit to you.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.