LED Light Therapy: How it Works, Benefits & Risks

By Med-Fit UK Content Team  .  Last Updated Thursday, 7th December 2023

What is LED Light Therapy

Discovering its origins in outer space, LED (light-emitting diode) light therapy has evolved into a non-invasive skin treatment with wide-ranging benefits. NASA initiated the study of LED's impact on wound healing among astronauts in the 1990s, observing its positive effects on cell and tissue growth. 

Today, dermatologists and estheticians frequently incorporate LED light therapy into their practices, often complementing it with additional treatments like creams, ointments, and facials to optimize outcomes. Additionally, LED light therapy products are now available to the public for various different devices using different colours of LED lights. 

This revolutionary therapy, distinguished by its use of skin-safe, low-level light in various wavelengths and colors, stands out for its versatility in addressing diverse skin issues. The LED spectrum encompasses different lights, such as:

  • Amber
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Green

In certain cases, practitioners combine different LED lights with a photosensitive drug called 5-aminolevulinic acid, enhancing the efficacy of the treatment known as photodynamic therapy. While this may heighten skin sensitivity to light, it significantly improves the overall results.

Notably, LED light therapy, devoid of ultraviolet light, is commonly administered in dermatologists' offices. Yet, a myriad of at-home devices, such as LED masks, ultrasound machines, mesotherapy electroporation devices, and professional LED light machines, have made this treatment accessible beyond clinical settings.

The multifaceted applications of LED light therapy span various skin conditions. Although undergoing the treatment in a professional setting holds promise, the efficacy and lasting effects of at-home devices, like light masks, remain a subject for further research and clarification.

What is Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy (RLT) stands out as a treatment harnessing low-wavelength red light to enhance the appearance of the skin, addressing concerns like wrinkles, scars, redness, and acne. 

Beyond its cosmetic applications, Red Light Therapy is reputed to extend its efficacy to the treatment of various medical conditions.

The mechanism behind RLT involves exposing the skin to repetitive sessions of low levels of red and near-infrared light for a specified duration. Operating at low wavelengths, red light avoids generating heat and effectively penetrates the skin at depths ranging from 1 to 2 millimeters.

The fundamental principle driving the effectiveness of RLT lies in its ability to elevate the energy levels of mitochondria within cells. 

This boost in energy not only enhances cellular efficiency but also facilitates the rejuvenation and repair of cells.

The surge in popularity in this type of LED Light Therapy is attributed to its claimed benefits, which include the reduction of inflammation and visible signs of aging. As a non-invasive and seemingly versatile treatment, Red Light Therapy continues to garner attention for its potential to address both cosmetic and medical concerns, marking a promising avenue in the realm of skin therapy.

Red LED Light Therapy Benefits

A comprehensive review of research from 2018 underscores the potential of Red Light Therapy (RLT), revealing promising outcomes across various domains, though its efficacy remains a topic of contention. 

Studies conducted over the past two decades suggest that RLT exhibits positive effects in diverse areas, including:

RLT's mechanism of action is believed to target the cellular mitochondria, elevating energy levels and enhancing cell function. This, in turn, supports skin repair, new cell growth, and rejuvenation, with specific cells absorbing light wavelengths to optimize their functionality.

Within the realm of skin health, Red Light Therapy is thought to:

  • Trigger collagen production, vital for skin structure, strength, and elasticity.
  • Boost fibroblast production, essential for collagen synthesis and integral to connective tissue formation.
  • Improve blood circulation to the tissues.
  • Mitigate inflammation within cells.

What is Blue Light Therapy

Blue light therapy employs blue LED light to address various skin concerns such as acne, hyperpigmentation, and excess oil production. 

Its effectiveness is purportedly optimized when combined with additional skin treatments like skin care facials, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion (reducing fine lines, minor scars, reducing wrinkles and age spots). 

This therapeutic approach is particularly acclaimed for its proficiency in combating P. acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne, residing on the skin's surface.

The application of blue light therapy is limited to areas directly exposed to the light. Consequently, it is primarily employed for conditions manifesting on or just beneath the skin's surface.