Red light therapy is being recommended for a variety of dermatological ailments, from rosacea to acne to normal aging. However, few people understand how this innovative therapy works nor what its precise benefits are. While no therapy is a cure all, red light therapy does appear to have a meaningful impact on a variety of skin disorders.
- What Is Red Light Therapy?
- How Was Red Light Therapy Developed?
- Red Light Therapy and Aging
- Can Red Light Therapy Work for Rosacea
- Can Red Light Therapy Help With Acne?
- Is It Possible to Smooth Cellulite and Stretch Marks?
- Options for Red Light Therapy
- How Long Does It Take to Work?
- Are There Any Side Effects?
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Red light is being used increasingly as light therapy because it is more effective than blue and violet lights used in traditional light boxes. Red light has a longer wavelength, which means that it penetrates deeper into tissues.
Once in tissues, light stimulates the body to create collagen, elastin, and other natural anti-aging molecules. In addition, red light appears to reduce inflammation and redness while causing mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell, to enable faster skin turnover. This creates a new layer of healthy, youthful cells to replace aged and/or diseased ones.
How Was Red Light Therapy Developed?
Red light therapy was originally developed by NASA, first to aid in growing plants in space stations and later as a medical treatment. It was later discovered that this type of light can heal skin with a variety of disorders. NASA has even studied red light therapy as a potential treatment for certain types of cancers, although this is still in research phases. What is clear is that red light therapy does have a positive biological effect on skin cells with a variety of problems.
Red Light Therapy and Aging
Over time, damage to skin causes aging. Free radicals, sun damage, and other harmful elements cause a slowdown in the production of elastin and collagen, which keep skin firm and youthful. In addition, subcutaneous tissue begins to thin. These forces together cause a loss of firmness which leads to wrinkling and sagging.
Because red light therapy encourages the production of collagen and elastin as well as the growth of new subcutaneous cells, it is being used increasingly as an anti-aging therapy. It is considerably less invasive and thus safer and cheaper than laser rejuvenation, face lifts, and other standard anti-aging treatments.
Can Red Light Therapy Work for Rosacea
Light therapy in general, and red light therapy in particular, have been found to be effective treatments for rosacea. The increase in collagen can help to produce healthy cells that do not have the redness and scaliness of skin affected by this common disorder. In addition, the reduction in inflammation can lead to a reduction of symptoms such as pain and redness.
In studies, red light therapy has been shown to create softer, smoother skin in 64% of users and healthier skin in an astounding 91%. Elasticity and hydration were noticeably increased in all people who tried this treatment.
Can Red Light Therapy Help With Acne?
While acne is thought of generally as a problem for teenagers, it can affect people of all ages. Unfortunately, standard treatments do not always alleviate this common issue. However, red light therapy can help.
Red light therapy has been found by doctors to reduce pustules and papules, otherwise known as zits, while decreasing sebum (oil) and killing acne-causing bacteria. In addition, red light therapy reduces redness and inflammation, which makes pimples have a less dramatic appearance. While red light therapy can be used in combination with many other acne treatments, it cannot be used with Accutane; it’s important for people with a prescribed acne regimen to talk to their physician before adding a new treatment.
Is It Possible to Smooth Cellulite and Stretch Marks?
Many people accept cellulite and stretch marks as unsightly side effects of aging, child birth, and weight fluctuations. However, these common issues are caused by a breakdown in elastin and collagen. Because red light therapy increases both of these molecules while encouraging healing and new skin growth, it can visibly reduce the appearance of both stretch marks and cellulite. Many women assume that these are permanent parts of their appearance, but this new treatment is offering a new hope.
Options for Red Light Therapy
There are several ways to get the benefits of red light therapy. Many doctor and dermatologist offices offer it as a treatment; while this is sometimes covered by insurance, it may not be if used as a cosmetic treatment. In addition, some tanning salons have a red light therapy bed. In addition, people can purchase a red light therapy box or bed to be used in their own homes. The FDA has deemed this treatment safe enough for home use with no prescription.
How Long Does It Take to Work?
It is important to remember that red light therapy, along with all light therapy, is not a fast solution. Because it is encouraging cells to create healthy molecules and rejuvenate themselves, it takes time to see the full effects. Most people will see mild effects after the first treatment, but it can take several treatments and a few weeks or even months to get a complete resolution of the issue.
How long this light therapy takes to work will depend on several factors. First, more severe damage will require more treatments. Second, how often a person gets treatment will affect the time frame. In general, most people get red light therapy three times a week for a several months to see complete healing or rejuvenation.
Are There Any Side Effects?
The FDA has found red light therapy to be safe for a variety of uses, with few side effects reported. In general, people who have photosensitivity (medically-based sensitivity to light) or are on medications that cause this should talk to their doctor before using this treatment.
In addition, there are several medications that can make people more sensitive to red light and thus should not be used with this therapy. Most notably, Accutane and St. John’s Wort should not be used with light therapy of any kind. In addition, many anti-aging products and creams may cause a sensitivity to light that contraindicates this kind of therapy.
While red light therapy is not a miracle cure-all for all skin disorders, it appears to have a meaningful therapeutic effect on a variety of skin problems. If you or a loved one suffer from rosacea, acne, premature aging, or other skin disorders, it may be time to give this space age treatment a try.