What Is Red Light Therapy? How Does It Work?

Also known as RLT, red light therapy is a newer phototherapy treatment. It uses low, safe wavelengths of red light to reduce redness, wrinkles, acne, and scars along the skin. It’s known by several other names, like soft laser therapy, low-level laser light therapy, and low-power laser therapy.

Other colors are used within phototherapy, but this form of phototherapy is used in the near-infrared and red regions because it is the best wavelength spectrum to penetrate through tissue and layers of skin.

How Does it Work?

RLT has shown effectiveness in treating various skin conditions, which is why phototherapy is becoming popular.

At-home red light therapy devices or dermatologists shine red light on the skin; this light penetrates deep into the skin and interacts with the mitochondria of the cell. Within the mitochondria is where the energy of a cell is created. Providing the mitochondria with the ability to create more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell can make more energy and can function more efficiently. More energy means that cells can rejuvenate and repair themselves.

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By giving cells more energy, red light therapy can help to stimulate the production of collagen, which is a protein produced by the body that provides the skin with elasticity, strength, and structure. The red light can also reduce the amount of inflammation in cells, which can lead to less acne and other skin conditions caused by inflammation, and the increase in blood circulation that RLT causes can improve the appearance of scars and marks on the skin by bringing fresh blood and cells to the surface.

What Can Red Light Therapy Be Used For?

Red light therapy has been shown to be effective in managing different skin conditions.

  • Anti-Aging: RLT is used by many to fight against signs of aging. Skin can be damaged and aged by the elements, like sunlight; by stimulating the production of collagen, RLT can promote skin with a stronger structure and vibrancy, reducing sagging skin. RLT can also reduce and improve the appearance of wrinkles and crow’s feet.
  • Wound Healing: There are endless ways we can wound ourselves, and sometimes our wounds take a long time to heal or leave behind unsightly scars. RLT wavelengths penetrate through the skin and stimulate the healing of slow-healing wounds at the cellular level so that wounds can heal faster. These wounds are also less likely to leave scarring due to RLT.
  • Acne: For acne, red light therapy has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help reduce inflammation in the skin where acne is present. The red light can also reduce the visibility of scars acne has left and repair tissue.
  • Psoriasis: Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that is autoimmune, and red light therapy can be used to treat mild to moderate psoriasis. It is important to note that there are different levels of psoriasis, and each level may require different light sources.
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Is it Safe?

Though RLT has shown itself to be effective, there may still be some questioning it. Is red light therapy safe?

RLT has not been associated with or linked to any side effects. The wavelengths used within the phototherapy are low, safe levels that will not harm the skin. In a dermatologist’s office, you are being supervised during RLT treatment, and at-home light therapy devices use a lower, safer wavelength.

However, it is still important to recognize that light therapy can be misused. Our eyes are sensitive and vulnerable, so when using red light therapy treatment, ensure that you are wearing the proper eye protection.

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Red light therapy has great potential for skin conditions and, if used properly, can have many benefits for the medical and skincare communities.

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