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.
What can I expect with LED light therapy?
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 a plastic surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who also has experience with using LED light devices. Be sure to do your homework and research the credentials of your plastic surgeon. While this does not guarantee results, it is the best way to make sure that you will be happy with the outcome.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.