Red light therapy uses devices fitted with specifically calibrated LED bulbs. These bulbs produce non-invasive wavelengths of red and/or near-infrared (NIR) light to promote cellular health, which can be the key to relieving a range of conditions. Wavelengths of light, which are measured in nanometers (nm), absorb to various depths of the body’s tissues. Red light in the 620–660 nm range and NIR light in the 810–850 nm range is considered to be in the “therapeutic window” of light that delivers benefits without side effects.
You may have heard red light therapy called other names, such as low-level light therapy (LLLT), low-power light therapy, or photobiomodulation. These are all names for the same type of treatment with devices that use LED bulbs. Several other terms are also frequently used in reference to red light therapy, including low-level laser therapy, soft laser therapy, low-power laser therapy, and cold laser therapy – all forms of red light therapy that use lasers rather than LED lights. Both lasers and LEDs are considered effective ways to deliver light to the body’s tissues. LED light panels deliver the same wavelengths, but to a larger area of the body, which makes LED light therapy more convenient than low-level laser therapy. The main advantage of LED devices is the ability to treat larger areas of the body at the same time. Laser lights have a narrower irradiance (power output) when compared with LED lights. The greater irradiance with LED lights allows larger areas of the body to be treated. Also, multiple LED devices can be arranged into planar arrays. This is easier to do with red light therapy panels as opposed to other forms of red light treatment. LED light produces a non-thermal emission of light, making it a safer option to use.
The different wavelengths have 4 major effects on the body producing a number of benefits.
1. Increased Cellular Energy Production:
Inside cells are tiny organelles called mitochondria, which are responsible for producing cellular fuel known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Sometimes, for a multitude of reasons (aging, illness, lifestyle, etc.) the mitochondria can’t produce enough ATP. When that happens, cells struggle to survive, rather than being able to function optimally or effectively repair or regenerate themselves. This mitochondrial dysfunction, as it is known, can snowball, as depleted cells in one bodily system cause a ripple effect in other systems. Mitochondrial dysfunction is considered to be at the heart of most major diseases and disorders. Red light therapy triggers a reaction that helps reverse this downward spiral. Light-sensitive molecules in cells (chromophores) in the mitochondria are especially responsive to red and NIR light photons. This interaction excites the mitochondria and stimulates ATP production. Red light therapy triggers a reaction that helps reverse this downward spiral. Energized cells are happy cells. They perform better, repair themselves more efficiently, and replace themselves faster. As old, damaged cells are replaced, healthy new cells emerge. This is one of the reasons that red light treatments are so popular for improving skin complexion and speeding up wound healing.
2. Reduced Inflammation:
Inflammation is one of the main contributing causes of mitochondrial dysfunction. Red light therapy has an astonishingly powerful effect on reducing inflammation in treated areas of the body.
3. Improved Circulation:
Red/NIR light treatments increase blood circulation as well as lymph circulation in skin tissue and beneath the skin, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the treatment area and removing waste and toxins.
4. Increased Collagen and Elastin Production:
One of the key components of healthy skin is an ample supply of collagen, the protein that makes up about 80 percent of the skin’s structure. Collagen production declines naturally with age. It is also influenced by inflammation, oxidative stress, chronic emotional stress, poor diet, too much sun exposure, and other factors that cause thin, crepey, sagging skin.
Red/NIR light stimulates collagen synthesis and helps promote the optimal organization of collagen proteins. This is most noticeable on delicate facial skin, where users report seeing significantly reduced fine lines and wrinkles after one to four months of regular use.
Intradermal collagen density increase is essential for reducing crepey skin and regaining firm youthful skin. Yet, intradermal collagen density increase isn't the whole picture when it comes to skin rejuvenation. Red and NIR light treatments also promote the synthesis of elastin, the protein that gives skin its youthful elasticity, treating stretch marks as well.
Red Light Therapy is a natural treatment that has many clinically proven benefits:
Red light is considered a low-risk treatment. It will not cause burns and there are no known side effects other than potential brief redness/tightness in the treated area in sensitive individuals, which is likely due to increased blood flow to the area. People with sensitive skin should start slowly. It can be easy to overdo LED light treatments because the therapy is painless and feels warm and soothing. If you have sensitive skin, start slowly to avoid temporary redness or tightness that may stem from increased blood circulation. Use caution if taking photosensitizing medications like lithium, melatonin, phenothiazine antipsychotics, and certain antibiotics as they make skin more sensitive to light.
Go easy on the eyes. Although Red Light Therapy has been used successfully for eye health, always wear proper eye protection to prevent eye strain and potential damage, especially from longer NIR wavelengths. Because NIR light is invisible, you can’t see it; thus, it may not seem intense, but the eyes are still affected. Recovery Room will provide eye protection if you choose to use it. If you have an eye condition we recommend you consult your ophthalmologist before using any Red Light Therapy on your eyes.
As beneficial as Red Light Therapy is, it should not be considered a miracle treatment for any condition. Whether benefits are skin-deep or deeper in the body, they often take time to manifest because Red Light Therapy works at the cellular level. Cells need time to repair themselves or replicate, and for the effects of millions of cells working together to result in improvement.
Consistency is key to seeing results. You may see some results very quickly, but the full effects may not be visible for three to six months of regular use.
More usage is not necessarily better. Research has determined that 3-20 minutes, 3-5 days a week is the optimal treatment time. Beyond that, extending the treatment time will not yield faster or greater benefits. As easy and pleasant as the treatments are, always follow the recommendations.