LED (luminescent diode) is a type of treatment that uses lights of different wavelengths to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as acne, scar tissue, and the effects of aging. Most often, red and blue lights are used for these treatments. Light therapy can be performed in a healthcare professional’s office or at home. Multiple treatments are required to achieve results.
This article discusses the types of LED light therapy, how they work and how they are performed, as well as the risks, safety, and potential side effects of this treatment.
What is LED light therapy?
LED light therapy is a treatment that involves placing light-emitting diodes on the skin to treat a variety of medical conditions and cosmetic issues. This treatment is painless and non-invasive and comes in many different forms, including hand-held wands for spot treatment of skin areas, light panels, lamps, and masks.
How LED Light Therapy Works
Light therapy works by influencing the function of your skin cells. When your cells absorb wavelengths of light, they produce energy more efficiently, in structures called mitochondria. Specific wavelengths of light impact cells in different ways, including:
- Red light therapy: Red light is commonly used to decrease inflammation and promote healing by increasing blood flow. In addition to improving your skin, red light can also help reduce pain in your muscles. Red light treatments often contain “close to infrared” as well as wavelengths, and they are used to treat age spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
- Blue light therapy: Blue light decreases inflammation. It can also kill bacteria and other microbes under your skin and reduce the activity of oil-producing glands on your skin. Blue light is often associated with violet wavelengths and is commonly used to treat acne.
- Amber light therapy: Also called yellow light, amber light therapy targets the most superficial layer of your skin. These wavelengths reduce inflammation, skin sensitivity and redness.
- Green light therapy: Green light targets both the superficial and deep layers of the skin. These wavelengths stimulate healing and improve skin firmness. They also help decrease the production of melanin, the natural pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin can cause dark spots on your skin.
- Topical photosensitive medications: In some cases, topical medications are applied to the skin before light therapy. This helps cells absorb wavelengths better during treatment.
Procedure for LED light therapy
Light therapy can be done at home or in a clinician’s office. The biggest benefit of in-office light therapy is access to a professional who can advise you on the best treatments for your skin.
There are also many advantages to using an at-home device for LED light therapy. For example, it is much cheaper in the long run. The best results come from using light therapy regularly, sometimes several times a day, depending on the condition of the skin you are treating.
LED light therapy comes in many forms for home use. Devices include LED masks, lamps and light wands for spot treatment. Some home units combine light therapy with ultrasound treatment – high-frequency vibrations using sound waves to help your skin absorb light.
LED light therapy can also be found as a component of multipurpose devices. For example, electroporation mesotherapy the devices improve the skin’s ability to absorb light using electric current.
Preparing for light therapy
Before a light therapy treatment, cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Your skin should be free of any makeup. During the week before your treatment, avoid any grooming technique that may irritate your skin, such as waxing or shaving. If your eyes will be exposed to light during treatment, you will need to wear eye protection.
After an LED lighting session
Light therapy sessions are often completed in 15 to 30 minutes, but may take longer if you are treating a larger area of your body. There is no “recovery time” required after the LED light treatment. Most people can resume their normal skincare routine immediately afterwards.
Uses and Benefits of LED Light Therapy
LED light therapy is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including:
- Acne (hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells)
- Psoriasis (skin disease causing itchy, red, scaly patches of skin)
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis, itchy, red skin)
- Vitiligo (colorless patches of skin resulting from loss of pigment cells)
- Rosacea (red, visible blood vessels on the face)
- Cold sores (blisters that form as a result of exposure to the herpes simplex virus)
- The healing of wounds
- Reduce scars
- Actinic keratosis (rough, scaly skin caused by damage from ultraviolet rays)
LED light therapy can also treat certain types of cancer. However, this type of treatment is currently only available in a medical professional’s office. Light therapy is also used for cosmetic purposes, such as reducing fine lines and wrinkles and smoothing and smoothing the skin.
Results may vary
Although research has shown that LED light therapy can be effective in treating skin conditions and improving a person’s overall appearance, it doesn’t work for everyone. For some conditions, such as cold sores, you may notice results after a few treatments. However, most conditions require several weeks of regular treatments to start showing improvements.
Risks, safety and side effects
In general, LED light therapy is a safe, low-risk treatment. This type of therapy uses wavelengths that are on the visible light spectrum, not the ultraviolet rays that frequently cause skin damage and burns.
However, there are still potential negative side effects to treatment, including redness, burning, or skin irritation. Light therapy can also cause headaches, fatigue, irritability, hyperactivity, or trouble sleeping.
Certain medications, such as birth control pills, antibiotics, antidepressants, and antihistamines, can make your skin more sensitive to light. If you’re on medication, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure light therapy is safe for you.
How to Get LED Light Therapy
LED light therapy devices can be purchased at retail stores or online. These devices range in price from less than $30 to several hundred dollars. Devices that provide additional treatments, such as sound waves or electrical currents, are more expensive.
LED light therapy is also performed in spas or other establishments offering skin care services. These services are more expensive than in-home units because you have to pay for individual treatments, but you will have the benefit of being seen by a trained professional, such as a beautician.
Dermatologists (doctors who specialize in skin conditions) also perform LED light therapy as part of the treatment for specific skin conditions.
LED light therapy uses a variety of wavelengths to treat skin conditions, such as wrinkles, fine lines, acne, scars, and skin discoloration. LED light therapy devices can be purchased and used at home or you can have this treatment performed at a spa or medical facility by a trained professional.
The risks from LED light therapy are minimal, but skin irritation may occur, especially if you are taking medications that make your skin more sensitive to light. While many people report that LED light therapy solved their skin problems, it doesn’t work for everyone.
A word from Verywell
LED light therapy can potentially make a big difference in the appearance of your skin, but it can also be an expensive investment for a treatment that might not work for you. Consult a skincare professional for recommendations before making the decision to pursue treatment. If you notice a new spot on your skin or notice changes in any of your existing spots, consult a healthcare professional to rule out skin cancer before starting LED light therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does LED light therapy actually work?
LED light therapy can be effective in improving the overall appearance of your skin. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for everyone.
Which LED light is best for healing?
Red light is commonly used to decrease inflammation and increase circulation to promote healing.
How long does it take for LED light therapy to work?
It usually takes several weeks of constant LED light therapy to see results.
What does the LED face light do?
LED light therapy can reduce facial fine lines and wrinkles. It can also be effective in treating skin blemishes.
Does LED light help broken capillaries?
LED light therapy can help reduce redness caused by broken capillaries.
Does red light help loosen the skin?
Although red light therapy cannot eliminate sagging skin, it can increase collagen production, making your skin firmer.
Does red light eliminate spider veins?
Red light can increase blood flow to the skin to help shrink spider veins.