Everything You Need To Know About LED Light Therapy

Image: the-face.com.au

Light therapy is one of the oldest therapeutic modalities used to treat various health conditions. Sunlight benefits in treating skin diseases have been exploited for more than thousands of years in ancient Egypt, India, and China. Solar therapy was later rediscovered by Niels Ryberg Finsen, a Danish physician and scientist who won in 1903 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition of his contribution to the treatment of diseases, notably lupus vulgaris. Phototherapy involving the use of an artificial irradiation source was born.

Jump forward to 1993 NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) research came about as a result of the effects noted when light of a specific wavelength was shown to accelerate plant growth. Because of the deficient level of wound healing experienced by astronauts in zero-gravity space conditions and Navy Seals in submarines under high atmospheric pressure, NASA investigated the use of LED therapy in wound healing and obtained positive results. This research has continued and innovative and powerful LEDs are now used for a variety of conditions ranging from cosmetic indications to skin cancer treatment (as a photodynamic therapy light source).

What is LED Light Therapy?

LED Technology is based on semiconductor technology, there is a significant difference between lasers and LEDs is the way the light energy is delivered [optical power output (OPD)]. The peak power output of LEDs is measured in milliwatts, whereas that of lasers is measured in watts. LEDs provide a gentler delivery of the same wavelengths of light compared to lasers and at a substantially lower energy output. LEDs do not deliver enough power to damage tissues and do not have the same risk of accidental eye damage that lasers do. LED light therapy has been deemed a non- significant risk by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and has been approved for use in humans.

In short: LED devices use color light therapy (UV-free - UV wavelengths are below 400nm) in specific wavelengths via tiny LED bulbs to increase blood circulation and promote collagen production, skin healing and acne reduction.

THE SCIENCY PART

In the same way that plants use chlorophyll to convert sunlight into plant tissue, LEDs can trigger natural intracellular photo-biochemical reactions. Light is measured in wavelengths and is expressed in units of nanometers (nm). Different wavelengths have different chromophores and can have various effects on tissue. Wavelengths are often referred to using their associated color and include:

  • Blue (400-470 nm)
  • Green (470-550 nm)
  • Red (630-700 nm)
  • NIR (Near Infra Red) (700-1200) lights
In general, the longer the wavelength, the deeper the penetration into tissues. At 660 nm, for example, light can achieve reaching a depth of 2.3 mm in the dermis, therefore covering fibroblasts (collagen stimulating) up to the reticular dermis.

Pulsing and Continuous Modes - Both pulsed wave and continuous wave (CW) modes are available in LED devices. Pulsing Mode has been shown to stimulate more collagen production than CW mode.

What can LED Therapy do for your skin?

Different wavelengths of LED can be used for to target various skin conditions from acne to ageing skin. Each wavelength will penetrate a different depth and cause a different effect within the skin. Applications can now be subdivided according to the wavelength or combination of wavelengths used:

1. Wound Healing - Early work involving LED mainly focused on the wound healing properties on skin lesions. Visible/NIR-LED light treatments at various wavelengths have been shown to significantly increase cell growth in normal human epithelial cells, decrease in wound size and acceleration of wound closure, accelerated healing of skin grafts along with speeding up healing of chronic leg ulcers. Wavelength: 660 & 850 combination

2. Acne - Clinical Trials have demonstrated the reduction of inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions using blue light in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Wavelength: 415

3. Inflammation - Can be the result of the oxidation of enzymes produced by the body’s defense mechanism in response to exposure to trauma such as sunlight (photodamage). Studies have demonstrated the anti-flammatory potential of LED treatment, it has also been shown to accelerate the resolution of erythema (redness) Wavelength: 630-660

4. Photo rejuvenation - Over time, skin gradually displays the effects of ageing. The collagen in the skin begins to break down and results in fine lines and then deeper grooves on the skin surface. Factors like sun, gravity, and hormones can speed up the ageing process. LED treatment can induce the restoration of the collagen deficiency by the induction of new collagen synthesis. In clinical studies, the increase in collagen production has been seen in association with improved appearance of photo damaged skin. Wavelength: 630-660

5. Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation Prevention (PHI) - Asian and dark-complexioned people are more prone to post inflammatory pigmentary response PHILED Therapy can prevent or treat PIH - substantial reduction or absence of PIH lesions in the LED-treated areas have been shown in trials. Wavelength: 660 nm.

LED devices for home use can come in many forms:

  • Hand Held
  • Wearable Face Mask
  • Wearable Goggles
  • Flat - can be shaped to fit different areas of the body
  • Beds - to lay on 

What results I can expect?

  • Plumped, glowing skin immediately after treatment
  • Penetrates deep within skin to build collagen -Firms skin
  • Evens skin tone and texture
  • Less wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin 
  • Faster healing of acne - the blue rays are proven to kill acne-causing bacteria which results with:
  • Speedy elimination of acne breakouts
  • Prevention of new acne breakouts

How long does it take to see results? Some Brands report seeing results from as soon as 10 days and will continue to see results for up to 10 weeks when you start to see firmer smoother skin. (in a 10 week daily-use clinical study)

Can LED cause hyperpigmentation? LED Therapy will not lead to hyperpigmentation. It’s both preventative and restorative so anyone can benefit.

Are there any side effects? No! there is no 'skin downtime', no heat, no pain and therefore no recovery. Some redness can occur after usage this is due to increase in micro-circulation due to the stimulation of the micro-capillaries near the surface of the skin. This is a good redness!

How long do you need to wear and or use the device? Each device and Brand vary, some brands state 3 minutes per day (continuous use) others up to 30 minutes twice per week. Skin Tip: LED Therapy can be used straight after Micro-needling to help with skin healing. Click here to read my article about Micro-Needling 

Can LED Therapy increase Serum penetration? According to Patrick Johnson CEO of BioPhotas who manufacture Celluma Devices in USA "There is nothing we can find to suggest a synergistic effect between LED Therapy and serum penetration" in short no.

Who can use it? LED therapy is suitable for all ages, all skin types, all skin colours.

My personal experience with LED Therapy 

I made the investment of $400 (Australian Dollars) in a wearable face mask (see
main blog picture) I on average use this device every other day, usually in the evening, but sometime while writing blog posts! it has a timer for 20 minutes - but be warned can scare children! There's absolutely no pain, burn, or discomfort during the treatment. I have used mainly the Red (to stimulate collagen) Cyan (when I have a blemish - hormonal) but mostly is use the Infra Red (for that deeper stimulation of Collagen and Elastin) I have use the pain Blocker (Purple) successfully with mensural and neck pain! it really helps to take the pain away, due to the flexible nature of the face mask you can easily use it on other areas of your body. Would I buy one again? yes absolutely but I would invest in a larger model A Celluma Device that is flexible, larger (to cover larger areas of the body) and more powerful i.e. it has more LED lights. It is a big investment (Approximatley $1,400 Aud) Personally I think it would be useful for all members of the family and I can see it could be really useful for sporting injuries or niggles. I would of course change the description on the controller (pictured right) to Pro-Ageing instead of Anti-ageing. Below are the different options (on my model pictured right) explained.

PURPLE LIGHT (405nm) CELL REGENERATION, TREATS ROSACEA & INFLAMMATION (REDUCES PAIN)
Reduces the telomeres of DNA in the cell which regenerates the cell and alleviates inflammation. It is an effective treatment for Rosacea and can also treat sunburn.

BLUE LIGHT (460nm) ACNE 
Destroys p-acne bacteria that accumulates in the pores and causes your skin to become inflamed leading to acne lesions and blemishes.

CYAN LIGHT (490nm) PROMOTES HEALING, TREATS SWOLLEN CAPILLARIES
Promotes healing, and is excellent used in conjunction with other treatments to speed up the healing process.  The cyan light has a soothing & calming effect that also assists with reducing the size of swollen capillaries.

GREEN LIGHT (530nm) EVENS SKIN TONE
Inhibits the production of excess melanin at a dermal level, preventing it from travelling to the skins surface. It also breaks up existing melanin clusters to diminish age spots, and pigmentation, thus evening skin tone for a more youthful appearance.

YELLOW LIGHT (580nm) STIMULATES  RED BLOOD CELLS & CIRCULATION
Stimulates red blood cells and activates toxin reduction, improves lymphatic function and circulation, helping to reduce toxins. triggers lymphocyte production. The Yellow light is also effective in treating pigmentation issues.

ORANGE LIGHT (605nm) REVITALISING, IMPROVES DULL COMPLEXIONS
Reduce toxins improving dull complexions, revitalising your skin and leaving you with a healthy radiant glow. 

RED LIGHT (625nm) FINE LINES & WRINKLES 
Combats the signs of ageing by delivering energy at a cellular level to increase the production of collagen.

INFRARED LIGHT (850nm) DEEP PENETRATING CELL RENEWAL
Same benefits as the red LED light treatment but penetrating the cell to a deeper level for an enhanced improvement in collagen and skin elastin and faster results.

CONCLUSION

Look for a Brand that can demonstraight Clinical Research // Trails. FDA or TGA approved means that it has been cleared as a safe device to use. This is not relevant to how effective the device is. The strength of the light (higher quality LED bulbs) is key for visible results. The weaker (and less expensive) LED devices may still work, but they require more time and patience before you see results.

A recent (2014) study concluded: The treated subjects experienced significantly improved skin complexion and skin feeling, profilometrically assessed skin roughness, and ultrasonographically measured collagen density. The blinded clinical evaluation of photographs confirmed significant improvement in the intervention groups compared with the control.

I decided to invest in a LED Face Mask (see above image) for home use, my area of concern being photo-damaged and ageing skin, but have been please to discover the pain blocker treatment very useful. It is an investment - as these devices are not cheap, so take your time and do your homework.

My personal research leads me to believe you get what you pay for! The cheap bargain found on 'popular online shopping sites' may not be the genuine article. Buyer beware. Have you tried a LED device? I would love to hear your experiences...
Until next time...

 

Please Note: This content is not sponsored, I am commenting on my own experiences with a product I have personally purchased. 

 

be human | be kind | be you

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

  • Gold MH, Andriessen A, Biron J, Andriessen H. Clinical Efficacy of Self-applied Blue Light Therapy for Mild-to-Moderate Facial Acne. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2009;2(3):44-50. 
  • Wunsch, A., & Matuschka, K. (2014). A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, 32(2), 93–100. 
  • Light-emitting diodes—Their potential in biomedical applications Naichia Gary Yeh a, Chia-Hao Wu a, Ta Chih Cheng b,*  (2010)
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