A person receiving red light therapy on their face.
Red light therapy is used to treat a variety of skin and muscle health conditions.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Chances are you have heard about red light therapy; it seems to be popping up everywhere as a cure-all for skin issues, such as wrinkles and acne. Not only is your dermatologist offering this service, but beauty salons and some gyms now offer this therapy, and you may even see devices available online or in stores for home use. But what is red light therapy and how does it work?

First, let’s talk about what it is. Red light therapy uses low-level red wavelengths to treat a variety of skin and muscle tissue issues including scars, wrinkles, wounds and other conditions. It’s important to note that this therapy uses very low levels of heat and does not burn or damage the skin and does not expose the skin to damaging UV rays.

Medical Conditions Red Light Therapy Treats

While there is limited research, the research that is currently available suggests that it may help to treat a variety of health conditions:

  • Hair growth in individuals with androgenic hair loss
  • Wound healing, such as diabetic foot ulcers
  • Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in the short-term
  • Appearance of skin issues, including wrinkles, scars, acne, burns and sun damage
  • Short-term relief of pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain cancer treatment side effects
  • Cold sore recurrence
  • Psoriasis lesions
  • Joint health in individuals with knee osteoarthritis
  • Pain and inflammation associated with Achilles tendinitis
  • Memory, sleep and anger issues associated with dementia
  • Clicking, pain and jaw tenderness associated with temporomandibular dysfunction syndrome (TMJ)

An important point to note is that research is only in the beginning stages. While the initial studies suggest that red light therapy may be beneficial for the conditions mentioned above, there is no definitive research that supports these claims. Further clinical studies are needed to determine the true effectiveness of this therapy.

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How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

This therapy involves exposing your skin to a lamp, device, or a laser with a low level red light. This natural red light penetrates deep into the skin, where the cells can absorb and use it. It's believed to work because the mitochondria in your cells absorb the rays, resulting in a biochemical effect that strengthens the mitochondria. This allows them to make more energy, which helps them to function efficiently, repair themselves, and repair skin and muscle tissue damage.

Typically, it is performed in a doctor’s office. However, some dental offices, beauty salons and even gyms offer the treatment as well. Additionally, you can purchase your own device to use at home.

Side Effects of Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is generally considered a safe treatment method, despite the fact that researchers are not completely sure how and why the treatment process works. As a result, there are no set rules on the amount of light to use. Keep in mind that too much light or faulty equipment may cause skin tissue damage, including burns and blisters. Additionally, there is also a risk of eye damage; therefore proper eye protection should be used when receiving this.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Red Light Therapy?

Like anything in life, medical treatments can come with some pros and cons. There are many benefits when it comes to this type of therapy, and we only mention a couple.

The Pros

One of the benefits is that is has anti-aging properties. As mentioned above, it can be used to get rid of wrinkles and fine lines. Also, this light treatment is used by dermatologists to treat eczema.

Want clear skin? Red light therapy is the answer. It helps improve lymphatic drainage, which then decreases your chances of getting acne and pimples.

The Cons

The downside is that there is not a lot of research surrounding this form of treatment, and everyone's skin can react differently. This is why treatment is recommended only three days per week. Also, keep in mind that too much of this therapy can cause skin irritation. If you are using an at-home method, make sure not to fall asleep under the rays, as this can cause burns.

In Conclusion

While it has shown promising results in treating certain conditions, such as wrinkles and scarring, it remains a controversial treatment option due to a lack of scientific research. Before starting red light therapy treatment, it is important to discuss it with your doctor or dermatologist to determine if it is the best option for you.