Josef Hadeed, MD, FACS | Beverly Hills, CA Friday, April 8, 2022
What is LED Light Therapy?
LED Light therapy is based on the principle that living cells are able to absorb and are influenced by light. The treatment has long been recognized for its regenerating and anti-inflammatory properties.
While we often associate light exposure with skin ageing and damage, light also has many positive influences on the body. It helps us produce vitamin D and provides energy and serotonin and can also accelerate our skin’s natural repair processes.
The differences between the positive and negative effects of light are the amount and the parts of the light spectrum we are exposed to. On-going exposure to UV is very damaging but controlled levels of Red, Blue and Near Infrared light are clinically proven to be beneficial.
The treatment involves exposing the skin to low levels of this beneficial light energy from the visible and infrared part of the light spectrum which energize cellular functions to stimulate various cellular processes with therapeutic effects. Skin cells that are energized function better and regenerate faster which in turn leads to younger, healthy and radiant skin.
The effects of LED Phototherapy are a natural response similar to that of plant photo-synthesis through a process known as photobiomodulation.
Light-emitting diode (LED) light therapy has recently gained traction in the healthcare arena. Not only have more medical offices been incorporating LED light therapy in their services, but the widespread availability of devices facilitates at-home use for consumers.
LED light therapy is mainly focused on skincare, promoting anti-aging effects and reducing inflammation. The purported benefits include an increase in the amount of collagen in the skin, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other stigmata of aging. Other uses of LED light therapy include acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, scarring and sun damage.
What are the different kinds of LED Light Therapy
There are different wavelengths of the visible light spectrum, each corresponding to different colors and penetrating the skin to different depths. It is thought that LED light produces different effects depending on the level of skin it penetrates.
The most common frequencies used in LED light therapy are the red and blue wavelengths, which are readily absorbed into the skin and do not contain harmful ultraviolet light.
Red light is used to treat the outermost layer of skin, otherwise known as the epidermis. It is thought that when this layer of skin absorbs infrared light, the fibroblast cells that are responsible for the production of collagen proteins are then stimulated. The increase in collagen production can make the skin look smoother, which can mitigate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Blue light, on the other hand, targets the oil glands located in the deeper layers of skin. By reducing the amount of oil that these glands produce, the skin can become drier which in turn could lead to fewer acne breakouts.
Benefits of the Different Wavelengths
LED Red Light:
Stimulates collagen synthesis and growth factor production
Increases hydration levels and moisture retention
Evens skin tone and texture
Calms redness & inflammation
Stimulates circulation & lymphatic system
Accelerates skin healing
Near Infra-red Light:
Most deeply absorbed wavelength by skin tissue
Increases cell permeability and absorption
Reduces pain and inflammation
Accelerates wound healing
LED Blue Light:
Reduces oil production
Helps with acne breakouts
UV free alternative for eczema and psoriasis
Anti-inflammatory / cooling effect
Are All LED Light Devices Made the Same?
To put it simply no. It can depend on many factors. The key parameter is the precise wavelength or nanometre (nm) which determines the target for the light and also the depth of penetration into the skin. The second important parameter is the output power or photon intensity.
Each individual wavelength has a specific target chromophore within the skin (such as melanin, haemoglobin, water, cytochrome c oxidase, porphyrins etc.). Shorter wavelengths have more superficial targets and longer wavelengths penetrate to targets at deeper levels in the skin. If the wavelength does not match the target chromophore then there will be no absorption and no reaction and therefore no result. Furthermore if the photon intensity is too low and insufficient energy is applied to reach the target cells, again there will be no result as the minimum threshold has not been met. Not all LED Phototherapy systems are the same!
What results can I expect with LED Light Therapy?
LED Light Therapy can help improve skin tone, hydration and overall radiance. It helps reduce redness and calm irritation and inflammation. However, most benefits occur naturally over time.
Results with LED light therapy are cumulative and a course of treatments taken in close succession is recommended for optimum results. Results can last for several months and regular maintenance treatments offer lasting improvement in the appearance and health of the skin.
In most instances, multiple treatment sessions are required with a typical treatment session lasting up to 30 minutes. Depending on the device being used, you will either lay down directly underneath the light source, or a more targeted device such as a mask or wand may be employed directly on the area to be treated. Though LED light therapy can be used anywhere on the body, it is most commonly used to treat damage on the face caused by the sun and other elements.
LED light therapy is noninvasive and thus carries few risks with no downtime. It can be used on all skin types and does not burn the skin. Additionally, no pain is associated with LED light therapy. However, there may be some rare instances in which it may not be advisable to have treatment to an area, such as an active rash or if you use Accutane.
Although there may be a noticeable improvement after LED light therapy, follow-up treatments or maintenance may be required. If you are thinking about LED light therapy, the first step is to consult with your skincare specialist, esthetician, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon who has experience with using LED light devices. While this does not guarantee results, it is the best way to make sure that you will be happy with the outcome.