Lika a lot of people, you’re probably wondering: What is red light therapy? Is this the latest hyped up health fad?
The concept of red light therapy has been around and in use for decades with mixed results. Some people swear by its benefits while others claim that it doesn’t work as well as they thought it would. You may have heard of it under a different name as it is also called light box therapy, low-level light therapy (LLLT), photobiomodulation (PBM), or photonic stimulation.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
When you go in for your red light therapy, your skin is exposed to red, low-light wavelengths. Red light wavelengths can be absorbed by the skin for up to 10 millimeters.
They work to create a biochemical effect on the cellular level, and in turn, this creates an increase in your mitochondrial function. When this happens, you can expect to feel better overall in regards to your health and durability.
People like this therapy option because there is no pain, it is a relatively quick procedure, and there is no downtime.
Traditionally, physicians used red light therapy to treat common symptoms associated with arthritis and joint pain, or the after-effects of cancer and chemotherapy including chronic muscle pain, hair loss, fatigue, skin discoloration, and tissue or neurological damage.
Does Red Light Therapy Work for Acne?
Red light therapy has been shown to treat mild to moderate acne effectively. You go into your dermatologist’s office once a week for a session of red light therapy until your acne begins to clear up.
The red light wavelengths will help to kill the bacteria that causes acne without doing any damage to the surrounding skin. Your dermatologist may tell you to stay out of tanning beds and stop some of your medicated creams a few days before your treatment.
Many participants reported that the red light therapy helped to clear up their acne by as much as 70% within 8-10 therapy sessions.
Some pair the therapy with cream that makes skin more sensitive to light. This can make the entire treatment process more effective, but it brings out an increased risk of side effects as well.
Does Red Light Therapy Work for Weight Loss?
Red light therapy has been shown to be effective in helping people with their weight loss goals. In the past few years, scientists have begun studying the use of red light therapy to shape cellulite and help people lose weight.
Red light therapy can help with skin issues and help to improve your muscle’s ability to recover, but it can also help your body process fat in a more efficient manner. When you use red light wavelengths of 630-670 and 810-880, it’ll stimulate mitochondrial production and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production. In turn, this helps your body wash away unwanted fat cells.
Red light therapy can also inhibit your hunger response to help prevent the buildup of fat, and it helps to control and lower the amount of hunger-related hormones leptin and ghrelin in your system.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Tissue Repair and Wound Healing. This therapy stimulates your body’s natural skin rejuvenation process by increasing cellular production, adhesion, and migration. This can help wounds heal faster in people with compromised immune systems.
Strengthens Your Immune System. As red light therapy stimulates increased ATP production, this may help you get better and recover quicker from being sick. Additionally, it stimulates your lymph system, and in turn, this encourages your cells to flush out any toxins.
Anti-Aging Benefits. As you age, your skin begins to show signs of wrinkles and your hair may start thinning. Red light therapy can help with these problems as it stimulates healthy hair growth and increases collagen levels. This leads to fuller, thicker hair and tighter, smoother skin.
Increased Circulation. As you have your red light therapy sessions, the red light wavelengths will penetrate through the epidermal and dermal layers of your skin. This will help your body to increase its overall circulation by helping to form new capillaries.
Can Red Light Therapy Damage Your Skin?
In most cases, the short answer is no; red light therapy can’t damage your skin. It isn’t strong enough to burn you, and there is no heat involved.
However, if your dermatologist recommends that you use cream to make your skin more sensitive to the light when you have your sessions, this could cause your skin to become irritated. You may also see peeling or light burns to the area when you combine this cream with red light therapy and natural sunlight.
Is Red Light Therapy Safe?
While the FDA has cleared red light therapy for use and it is generally considered to be a safe alternative therapy, it isn’t a good fit for everyone. If you have a history of epilepsy or a seizure disorder, you should be aware that the lights may flash or pulse during your session, and this could potentially trigger a seizure.
People who have cancer or sensitivities to light should consult with their doctors before beginning red light therapy as well.
If you’re pregnant, red light therapy is generally considered to be safe. However, you should check with your midwife, OB, or primary care physician before starting this treatment. (Personally we’d suggest you postpone till after giving birth, just to be on the safe side.)