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Red Light Therapy for Skin, Energy, and Pain Relief

Super Models, Pro Sports Teams and Top Athletes all share a secret weapon: PhotoBioModulation (aka Red Light Therapy)


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How Often Should You Do Red Light Therapy? Fundamentals Explained

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If youve got your finger on the pulse of the skincare industry, youve probably heard of red light therapy as a cure for many ailments: fatigue, acne, fine lines, anxiety, run-of-the-mill injuries, and even cancer. And despite the fact that discard and the industry appears to try trends each and every day red light therapyhas that is therapyparticularly had notable staying power. .

Just the other day, a friend posted an Instagram story where she was sitting in a sauna built for one with red lights shining down on her as she bobbed her head to one of her Spotify playlists (because of course an aux cord was included in said sauna).

But people also think it helps their skin, their sleep, as well as their minds in need of stress relief. .

We spoke to dermatologist Rhonda Klein about the light therapy claims and how she uses light therapy in her practice. If youre wondering how it could work or what red light treatment it is, read on.

Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser light therapy (LLLT) or biostimulation (BIOS), is the title given to a large assortment of therapies that use specific wavelengths of light to encourage healing, enhance skin tone, and enhance circulation. Light therapy is supposed to be effective for pain managementtreatment, and the healing of certain sports injuries, among other programs. .

These are some promises that are pretty big, so we decided to look in the science of light treatment that is red. Admittedly, were fairly skeptical of anything that claims to cure so many things, especially when, at first glance, it boils down to spending time under a specific lightbulb.

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That said, while red light therapy isnt necessarily a miracle remedy, its not entirely bogus.

While Stand under this light for a while covers the basics, red light treatment is (luckily ) more complicated. Patients typically undergo multiple treatments during which theyre exposed to lights. The waves are thought to stimulate production of collagen, an important protein found throughout the body. The Los Angeles Times also reports that under the right conditions red light treatment can reduce inflammation, potentially allowing cells to heal faster than they would in the absence of therapy. .

For instance, blue light is more effective than red light for managing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), while red light seems more effective for certain cosmetic skin care treatments.

The main distinction is the lights wavelength and intensity. Red light has a longer wavelength than blue light, allowing it to penetrate into cells. Its waves have. No matter which sort of lighting youre being treated with, the exact wavelength is important; you cant only sit beneath a red traffic light for half an hour and expect any results (other than possibly a traffic ticket). .

In dermatology, red light therapy is more correctly called low-level laser light therapy (LLLT). Proponents of the technology claim that LLLT can treat various conditions including psoriasis, vitiligo, and acne.

For conditions like acne, red light therapy seems to be effective, but its often less effective than topical treatments and drugs.

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Light therapy is nowhere near first line, says Klein, who offers light therapy services at her clinic in Connecticut, but its good for acne patients that dont want to take prescription medications.

By way of instance, one of Kleins patients decided to use light therapy for acne treatment before a wedding since other options might have caused undesirable side effects (nobody wants an upset stomach on their big day). Klein states that phototherapy can be effective for treating acne, although its not necessarily the cheapest or best option. .

Generally, unless theyre coming every week or two, light therapy isn't going to make a great difference, and its not covered by insurance, Klein says. We provide treatments for $75, and honestly, we do this for the patients Its not something we earn money on.

Proponents of red light treatment often claim it can rejuvenate the skin, reducing the appearance stretch marks and wrinkles.

Its thought to incite collagen production, Klein says. I dont know that we really have some studies backing that up. It might possibly give you a glow.

We looked to the available research, and its a mixed bag. A 2014 study found that red light therapy wasnt any more capable of treating wrinkles than broadband photobiomodulation, which utilizes a wider range of light wavelengths. However, that study found that both light sources demonstrated safety and efficacy for skin rejuvenation and intradermal collagen increase when compared with controls. .

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Several other studies seem to indicate that mild therapies could improve the look of skin, but the American Academy of Dermatology notes that while light treatments can be effective for that purpose, patients should only pursue these therapies with help from a physician.

Thats also true if youre looking to regrow lost hair. Some studies do show that low-level laser therapy can promote hair growth in humans, but the wavelength and intensity of the light source are important factors, so seeking out treatment from a qualified professional is essential.

Heres where we get into waters. Theres significant evidence relieve pain better than a placebo.

That said, red light therapy might simply reduce inflammation by providing a modest heat source, in which case an electric blanket would serve the same function. .

Researchers also disagree about the extent of red light therapys effect. A 2010 study found that phototherapy patients experienced no difference in chronic pain as compared to placebo groups, while another meta-analysis from precisely the same year discovered that phototherapy was remarkably effective for pain control.

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Some scientists think that the issue is in the methodology, meaning doctors likely arent using the exact methods when treating chronic pain patients. Likewise, pain is extraordinarily difficult to study since study relies on self-reporting from patients.

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Studies differ in overall dosage and wavelength which limits the ability to accurately draw conclusions, wrote J. Derek Kingsley, et al, in a 2014 research review. Pain is a very complex condition that manifests itself in a variety of different forms. Perhaps there is no set standard of care which will encompass needs.

Dermatologists can use photodynamic light therapy to destroy cancer cells. Typically, physicians treat patients precancerous growths using a topical aminolevulinic acid, then use a blue or red light to activate the medication.

Its why over-the-counter phototherapy treatments are ineffective for treating things like cancer. While theres some evidence that targeted light therapies could effectively treat tumors in humans, the technology isnt there yet. .

Half of what dermatologists do daily is dispute marketing claims, Klein says. Medical professionals cant make promises without data, but med-spas and other professionals can.

The takeaway: If you you have a skin growth thats about you, give your dermatologist a call rather than trying to take care of it yourself.

Melanomas are the deadliest type of skin cancer, and sadly, even one indoor tanning session can increase a persons risk of developing a melanoma by 20 percent. Since some tanning salons now offer services that use red light, we wondered: Could a red light therapy lamp trigger cancer

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Nope. Tanning lamps produce ultraviolet light, which has a shorter wavelength than any kind of visible light. Ultraviolet light is a form of ionizing radiation, which is capable of disrupting DNA and inducing cancer.

Its wavelength is too broad to create a carcinogenic effect, and while some researchers have expressed concerns that low-level light treatment could cause existing cancers to spread, those concerns appear unfounded.

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Red light therapy doesnt have too many side effects beyond eye strain, so if you like sitting under the red lights at the local gym or tanning salon, go for it. Naturally, that presumes that the red light device is being used correctly. Which reminds us

Outside of a doctors office, the most common uses of red light therapy are workout recovery and cosmetic augmentation. Lots of the businesses that offer red light treatment wont make the particular claims referenced in this article because they dont want to draw the ire of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which issued a letter in 2011 warning users about inaccurate red light treatment claims. .

At the moment, tanning salon owners were only replacing the lamps in their own tanning beds and booths with red lights, then claiming to give the full therapeutic benefits of red light therapy and LLLT to clients. That was an issue because the wavelength and frequency of a phototherapy light things, meaning you cant just hang a red light bulb and call it a day. .

Having said that, its certainly possible that some over-the-counter products and services could be effective for several issues that red light treatment has been claimed to repair. The problem is that theres no way to know for certain.

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While the FDA approves some types of lamps for certain therapeutic purposes, its important to understand most of the products on the market aren't FDA approved. If youre considering red light therapy product, you can search through the FDAs database of cleared medical devices. .

Red light therapy isnt bewitching, and while its a promising area of scientific study, in addition, it provides less-than-reputable entrepreneurs a new way to make loads of money. If youre interested in trying red light treatment, carefully consider the potential advantages of a device or therapy, then make sure that those claims have strong scientific support.

Just be sure that the light source is actually red light, since ultraviolet light can be quite dangerous. Finally, red light therapy and other types of phototherapy may be hugely valuable, but as with all health products, the best bit of advice is simple: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. .

Red light therapyalso known as red LED light treatment, low-light therapy (LLLT), photobiomodulation, and cold laser therapyinvolves exposing bodily tissues to red and near-infrared light between the wavelengths of 660 nm and 890 nm with either non lasers or red LED lights. The light from such devices is used to treat an assortment of conditions, from wrinkles to scarring to pesky wounds that will not heal.

“It activates collagen production and contains many other skin benefits such as accelerating the healing process, helping with facial and inflammation redness, minimizing dark spots, and improving overall circulation. “These red and near-infrared wavelengths don't burn or harm the skin (unlike the harmful UVA rays in tanning beds), but they are thought to be absorbed by skin up to 10 millimetersa lot deeper than any serum or cream can permeate.

In the 1990s, scientists developed technology featuring red LEDs to help promote growth and photosynthesis in plants during space shuttle missions. This, in turn, prompted research into whether red light treatment might have advantages for humans, particularly for astronauts, who experience difficulties like poor wound healing due to weightlessness.

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Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells that turn food and oxygen into energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Stimulated mitochondria are believed to produce more ATP, and thus, help cells function, regenerate, and repair themselves more effectively. Stem cells may also be activated by red light treatment, which promotes increased tissue repair and recovery. .

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