Ask the Expert: Can Red Light Therapy Benefit the Skin?
We at Skincare.com are always talking about the effects of too much sun exposure. It’s one of the main tenants of skin care: be mindful of harmful UV rays by always wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen and taking other sun protection measures. Sometimes, though, a little light can go a long way (and we’re not talking about getting a nice tan). There are a few dermatological procedures available that are entirely light-based and could be beneficial to your skin. Take for example, red light therapy.
If this sounds unfamiliar (or unbelievable) to you, we’re here to provide some clarity. We’ve asked board-certified plastic surgeon, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Peter Schmid to help shed some light (pun intended) on just what red light therapy is, how it works, and how it could benefit skin in the long run.
WHAT IS RED LIGHT THERAPY?
Red light therapy is exactly what it sounds like. Succinctly put by Dr. Schmid, “Red light therapy is the clinical application of light-emitting diodes via Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) to treat selective areas of the body and face.” The “red light” used during this treatment is typically red or near-infrared. This is the type of light (or radiation) we come into contact with on a day-to-day basis, so your skin is already familiar with its presence.
HOW DOES RED LIGHT THERAPY WORK?
During the actual treatment, skin is exposed to low densities of the red light via lasers. This causes the production of skin cells’ mitochondria—the source of a cell’s energy—to increase in rate. The more energy the cells have, the more of an ability they have to rejuvenate and to heal.
While some may find the thought of willingly exposing your skin to radiation, rest assured there are no harmful UV rays involved. “The wavelength of the light is specific and void of nonvisible ultraviolet light which is damaging to the skin,” says Dr. Schmid. “It is a very safe therapy with no known adverse side effects and discomfort during application since it does not generate heat during application.”
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF RED LIGHT THERAPY?
Although now typically associated with anti-aging efforts, red light therapy continues to hold an ample amount of benefits. According to Dr. Schmid, “[Red light therapy] is also being utilized to, acne, healing wounds and scars, skin discoloration, and has the ability to help with rejuvenating effects by reducing fine lines and wrinkles.”
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) confirms the results of red light therapy to be so. In a 2014 study, 136 patients undergoing the therapy were observed to have a “significantly improved skin complexion and feeling.” Furthermore, Dr. Schmid tells us that red light therapy has been clinically demonstrated to lower free radical damage, stimulate collagen production, and restore damaged tissues. “We often use red light therapy post-hydrafacials, chemical peels, and micro-needling treatments not only for its anti-aging benefits, but also to help stimulate collagen and elastin production and enhance the healing process,” Dr. Schmid says.
WHO’S A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR RED LIGHT THERAPY?
Although red light therapy is perfectly safe for all skin types, be sure to do your research prior to making an appointment. Consult your dermatologist or medical professional for further details and to make sure red light therapy is right for you.