Red light therapy is the application of light from low-power lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to the surface of the skin. It’s typically used to enhance cellular functions or relieve pain, whereas high-power lasers generally cut or destroy tissue. The benefits of red light therapy appear to be limited to light with a narrow range of wavelengths and power. Red light therapy shows great promise in treating wrinkles, although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t yet approved it for this purpose in the United States. However, many studies indicate that including this procedure as part of a well-rounded anti-aging routine provides positive results, as shown in red light therapy before after photos.
Healers have known about natural sunlight’s health benefits for thousands of years, and modern scientists have identified the effects of light with specific wavelengths on the body. For example, ultraviolet (UV) light with a wavelength between 10 and 400 nanometers (nm) can treat chronic skin conditions like acne, although therapists must carefully control the exposure due to the risk of skin cancer. Red light therapy uses light in the red and near-infrared (NIR) range has therapeutic benefits that safely support the body’s own healing mechanisms, with little risk of side effects.
Healthcare professionals prefer the term Photobiomodulation (PBM) to describe red light therapy, although they also use the term low-level light therapy (LLLT). Additional medical and marketing terms for this therapy include the following:
- Bio-stimulation laser therapy
- Laser biostimulation
- Laser phototherapy
- Low-energy laser therapy
- Low-intensity laser therapy
- Low-level laser therapy
- Low-power laser irradiation
- Low-power laser therapy
- Monochromatic infrared light energy (MIRE) therapy
- Soft laser therapy
Certain applications of red light therapy are also known by more specific names. For example, it’s called laser acupuncture when administered to acupuncture points. This procedure is also known as transcranial low-level light therapy, transcranial near-infrared laser therapy (NILT) and transcranial photobiomodulation when applied to the head.
Red Light Therapy Wavelengths
Red light therapy uses red light between 630 and 660 nm, and near infrared light between 810 and 850 nm. Both types of light have a similar rejuvenating effect on the skin, but at different layers. Red light doesn’t penetrate the deeper layers of skin due to its shorter wavelength, making it more effective for the surface. It’s most effective for treating conditions like fine lines, wrinkles, roughness, age spots and sagging skin. NIR light penetrates more deeply, allowing it to reduce inflammation. Most people suffer from some inflammation, although they may not be aware of it. An improved sense of general well-being after at least a month of red light therapy is a clear sign that it has reduced your level of inflammation.
Light therapy devices may also use other types of light, including amber and blue light.
Amber light has wavelengths that are shorter than red wavelengths, generally in the range of 570 to 620 nm. It won’t penetrate the skin very deeply at all, so it only affects the surface. This means that amber light can’t energize emerging skin cells, so there’s no reason to use amber light for skin care.
The wavelength of blue light is between 400 and 480 nm. Its high energy allows it to kill bacteria, but excessive exposure can also damage skin for the same reason. The most common adverse effects of blue light include accelerated aging of the skin and macular degeneration, which affects vision in the center of the visual field. Blue light can also disrupt the circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to maintain regular sleep patterns. Furthermore, many studies show that most people already receive too much exposure to blue light as a result of watching TVs or computer monitors, especially after dark. In addition, few people need treatment for acne and wrinkles at the same time, making it rare to need therapy with both red and blue light.
Causes of Wrinkles
Genetics is a key factor that determines how quickly your skin will age with wrinkles and other features, as some people naturally retain a youthful appearance significantly longer than others. However, chronological age isn’t the only stressor that can put wrinkles on your face. Environmental factors like sunlight, cigarette smoke and other toxins are strong contributors towards premature aging. Diet can also affect your apparent age, especially sugar. Emotional stress is another contributing factor towards the development of wrinkles, particularly on your face.
These factors generally affect your skin by causing inflammation, which interferes with cellular function. This condition is known as mitochondrial dysfunction, which is reversible through lifestyle changes that relieve various sources. These modifications can help prevent further premature aging, but they can’t eliminate wrinkles that have already developed. Fortunately, red light therapy shows promise for turning back the clock on wrinkles by doing more than simply temporarily covering up the problem.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy Before and After
Red and NIR light provides various benefits when your tissues absorb it, which primarily include increased cellular energy and increased production of collagen and elastin.
Increased Cellular Energy
Mitochondria are organelles within cells that generate chemical energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from raw materials that come from food. Mitochondrial dysfunction can include anything that interferes with this process, causing cells to struggle for survival due to a lack of energy for performing their various functions. Cells die prematurely and are sloughed off as a result of mitochondrial dysfunction, causing many effects such as wrinkles and dry, sagging skin.
The new cells that replace the dead ones may also be affected by mitochondrial dysfunction, especially if the energy available to them is still low. This condition can still cause you to look older than you should, since the emerging cells must regain adequate energy before they can improve the quality of your skin. Red light therapy is able to restore mitochondrial function, making it a powerful anti-aging tool.
The photons that red and NIR light delivers to your skin interact with light-sensitive bodies in mitochondria known as chromophores. This process stimulates mitochondria into increasing their production of ATP, giving cells the energy they need to reverse the damage caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. Healthy cells with full energy levels are then able to replace those that are dying, helping to reduce the signs of aging.
Researchers Paul Mills and Joseph Tafur at the University of California conducted a study in 2008 showing that the use of red light therapy to stimulate mitochondria improves the signaling that performs normal cellular function and proliferation, known medically as cellular homeostasis. As a result, red light therapy can promote the emergence of healthy skin that’s softer, smoother and more resilient, rather than the sagging and wrinkles of damaged skin. Red light therapy before and after wrinkles appear is therefore effective for improving the appearance of your skin.
Increased Collagen and Elastin Production
Collagen and elastin are related proteins that collectively comprise about 80 percent of the skin. They provide the skin with a flexible support structure, which is why the skin begins to wrinkle and sag when their production drops. This process is a normal part of aging, but it also has other causes like mitochondrial dysfunction.
Collagen is the main structural component in connective tissue like the skin and the most abundant protein in mammals. Studies consistently show that red light therapy increases the density of collagen within the dermal layer of skin, resulting in tighter, firmer skin. While collagen provides the skin with structural rigidity, elastin allows the skin to stretch. A 2007 study in South Korea treated study subjects with 633nm red light and 830nm NIR light twice a week for four weeks, resulting in a dramatic increase in skin elasticity. Yet again from the paper above we see the before and after effects of red light therapy.
The combination of increasing collagen and elastin density in the skin helps smooth out wrinkles and fine lines. This process provides you with more youthful skin, helping to provide the benefits of a facelift without the expense and risk of surgery.
Red Light Therapy Before and After
Red light’s ability to improve cellular health helps eradicate bacteria on the skin’s surface, reducing the frequency of acne breakouts. The comparatively long wavelengths of red and NIR light allow them to penetrate the deeper layers of skin, where they reduce inflammation, boost collagen and elastin production, improve microcirculation. Furthermore, the risk of side effects for these benefits is very small.
Michael R. Hamblin, world-renowned researcher in photobiomodulation, wrote a paper in 2017 describing the use of red light therapy to reduce inflammation. The significance of this paper is that inflammation directly affects emerging cells when it causes mitochondrial dysfunction. A reduction in inflammation thus improves cellular function and therefore improves skin health.
Italian and Russian researcher conducted a study in 2020 that concluded light therapy with LEDs stimulates the growth of endothelial cells, which are the main component of capillaries in the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems. This benefit increases the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body, resulting in the delivery of more oxygen and nutrients while removing more waste. Therapy with red and NIR light also stimulates the dilation of blood vessels, further improving circulation. This benefit improves tissue repair, providing faster healing and better complexion.
Red light therapy is part of an overall approach to holistic skin care that allows you to treat wrinkles without irritating chemicals, risky cosmetic surgery or expensive laser surgery. The benefits you can expect depend on the specific wavelengths of light and the duration of the exposure. Achieving optimal skin health also requires you to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, manage your emotional stress and monitor your environmental conditions.
Solbasium Red Light Therapy Products
Solbasium is the leading innovator and manufacturer of red light therapy devices in the world. All Solbasium red light therapy products are designed to emit red light to reverse the signs of aging, rejuvenate skin and heal. Experience the benefits of professional clinic grade light therapy treatments in the comfort of your home by choosing Solbasium red light therapy. It’s our goal to deliver the best overall customer experience to you, and that’s why when you choose Solbasium, you’ll have a human there to guide you and help through your red light therapy journey.