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Red light therapy, or low-level laser light therapy (LLLT) is best known for its ability to heal wounds, however it is also becoming widely recognized for its ability to stimulate collagen, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reduce cellulite and even stimulate hair regrowth.
I may burst your bubble of excitement when I tell you it’s no Luke Skywalker lightsaber laser gun, this therapy is non-invasive and quite simple. Red light therapy or LLLT works by simply exposing cells or skin tissue to low levels of red and near infrared light. The reason it’s ‘low-level’ is because it uses very low energy densities of light. In comparison to other laser therapies, all it requires is standing in front of light for 5-15 minutes.
Low-level laser therapy promotes wound healing, tissue repair and prevents tissue death, because of this, it’s highly regarded in its ability to rejuvenate the skin by increasing collagen production and decreasing collagen degradation. LLLT has the ability to stimulate mitochondria which increases ATP production. Mitochondria is typically referred to as the powerhouse of the cell because it produces energy, and experts believe this is what helps cells repair themselves.
In addition to promoting cellular repair, LLLT prevents tissue death by modulating reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species, or free radicals damage our cells and, in some cases, cause a breakdown in collagen.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the connective tissues of the human body which helps strengthen skin. As we age, we don’t produce as much collagen which is the reason we develop sagging and wrinkling skin. Yet red light therapy and LLLT can help our body promote the production of collagen so you can maintain youthful, elastic beautiful skin.
When lasers were first discovered in the 1960s, laser therapy was recognized for its potential to improve wound healing, reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. The reason LLLT is best known for its ability to improve wound healing because it supports each of the three phases of wound healing and during the final two phases, LLLT stimulates collagen. It helps to promote the production of fibroblasts during the proliferative phase, then it promotes collagen deposition at the wound and helps to rebuild extra-cellular matrix during the remodeling phase.
Apart from wound healing, LLLT stimulates cellular proliferation and increases the production of basic fibroblast growth factor. By increasing the production of fibroblasts, it stimulates collagen since fibroblasts are the cells that promote collagen.
A randomized controlled trial measured the effects of red and near-infrared light treatment on skin and concluded that red light therapy significantly improved skin complexion and increased collagen density.
Cellulite is affected by a lack of collagen, and about 90% of women suffer from cellulite. Red light therapy comes to the rescue again.
A double‐blind, placebo‐controlled randomized trial demonstrated the safety and efficacy of LLLT improving the appearance of cellulite, specifically in the thigh and buttocks.
Controlled clinical trials have shown that LLLT promotes hair growth in men and women by stimulating epidermal stem cells in the hair follicle and inducing the follicles into their growth phase. It is not wispy (comb-over) hair either, the newly grown hair is thicker and more pigmented. A literature review published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, concluded that LLLT is safe and effective to stimulate hair growth for men and women.
Studies have shown that individuals with normal colour vision do not experience a suppression of melatonin from bright red or dim lights compared to bright blue lights. This is why people tend to swap out their bedroom lightbulbs for red bulbs instead of your typical blue light emitting bulbs.
One study showed that just 2 weeks of red-light therapy positively affected sleep quality amongst basketball players.
Compared to other skin treatments including microdermabrasion or laser resurfacing, LLLT or red light therapy is non-invasive and doesn’t require time for your skin to recover. Dermatology researchers find this type of therapy to be very safe, because it is absent of side-effects. However, to reap the benefits of red-light laser therapy you have to use it consistently and so investing in your own device may be your best bet.
One of the leading companies making red light therapy for your home is Joovv.