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LED Light Therapy: Scientifically Proven Results

LED Light Therapy: Scientifically Proven Results
Light Emitting Diode (LED) light therapy has gained immense traction as a treatment of choice with aesthetic clinic clients over the past 10 years.

 

As a non-thermal and non-invasive skin procedure with no down-time, it is an easy add-on to your regular skin maintenance regime. This post will explore the scientific research backing this procedure to inform you, the consumer, of the evidence which surrounds this skin treatment (image by Avenue Aesthetics).

 

LED was first used in biological procedures during the 1950’s by NASA, who used LEDs to grow plants in space 1.  NASA expanded their research to human skin in 1988, and through controlled trials, identified that the light could penetrate into the skin to enhance wound healing through increased skin cell growth 1,3,8.  The use of LEDs in skin procedures has emerged during the past 10 years or so, with research identifying that the procedure can alter the way the skins processes work without generating heat or side effects 1,8,9.

 

So how do LEDs work? They work through a process called photobiomodulation. Let’s break this down into bite size pieces! Photo refers to light, and modulation refers to changing something through influence; therefore, photobiomodulation means to use light to influence something to change 1,4,7. The LED device emits low levels of light which are absorbed into the skin into target cells called chromophores, which either upregulate or down regulate cellular processes 2,3,8,9.

 

A major contributor to the benefits of LED is increased production of the energy molecule, called ATP, within cells.  Increased production of ATP fuels cells to help them perform optimally 1,3,7,9.  Let’s face it, we all perform better when we fuel our bodies! 

 

The positive impact of photobiomodulation on the skin is diverse. The benefits include increased production of collagen and elastin fibres, a reduction in the molecules that breakdown collagen and elastin fibres and modulation of skin inflammation. It can increase blood flow in the skin while decreasing the bacteria in the skin that causes inflammatory acne .  It can also increase the oxygen and nutrition that our cells receive and enhance the hydration of our skin through the production of molecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)1. GAGs have the ability to grab and hold onto high amounts of water, which plumps the skin to make it appear firm 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.

 

This process does not remove any layers of skin or heat it to a point of discomfort, and this is why it has no downtime following the procedure and the incidence of side effects are very rare or relatively non-existent 1,3,7,8,9.

 

Different wavelengths, or colours, of light can penetrate the skin to different levels and generate different effects 4,6,8,9.  This is why aesthetic clinics offer different colours of LED to clients based on their individual needs. The following table is based on published research and briefly (yes briefly) breaks it all down for you!

(Skin image: Sorbellini et al., 2018, p. 1433).

 

Wavelength

Light Colour

Skin Benefits

Skin Conditions

400-470nm

Blue

Blue light penetrates to the skins surface so treats concerns at this level 

Antibacterial activity

Cell energy production

·      Inflammatory acne

·      Rosacea

·      Eczema

·      Psoriasis

 

540-590nm

Yellow

Supports a reduction in swelling and redness in the skin

 

Production of skin surface cells

 

Reduced the flow of skin oils

 

Reduces the activity and production of cells that break down collagen and elastin

 

Cell energy production

 

Increased production of growth factors which enhance wound healing and results from cosmetic procedures

 

·      Red or inflamed skin

·      Rosacea

·      Pigmentation

·      Fine lines and aged skin

·      Poor skin texture

·      Enhance recovery post-skin procedure

 

630-700nm

Red

Activates the cells to produce collagen and elastin

 

Decreases the activity and production of cells that cause damage to collagen and elastin

 

Enhances blood flow

 

Modulates inflammation

 

Reduces the flow of skin oils

 

Increases skin hydration

 

Reduces the activity and production of cells that break down collagen and elastin

 

Cell energy production

 

Enhanced transport of oxygen and nutrients to the skin

 

Enhanced removal of wastes from the skin

 

Increased production of growth factors which enhance wound healing and results from cosmetic procedures

 

Increased production of GAGs

 

·      Anti-aging/sun damage

·      Wound healing

·      Skin firming

·      Acne

·      Rosacea

·      Eczema

·      Psoriasis

·      Hair loss

·      Enhance recovery post-skin procedure

·      Poor skin texture

700-1200nm

Infrared

Deeply penetrates the skin

 

Enhance collagen and elastin production

 

Enhances blood flow and the production of new blood vessels

 

Enhances the movement of new skin cells to support wound healing

 

 Reduces the activity and production of cells that break down collagen and elastin

 

Cell energy production

 

Enhanced transport of oxygen and nutrients to the skin

 

Enhanced removal of wastes from the skin

 

Increased production of growth factors which enhance wound healing and results from cosmetic procedures

 

·      Wound healing

·      Anti-aging/sun damage

·      Rosacea

·      Hair loss

·      Enhance recovery post-skin procedure

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

 

There seems to be controversy surrounding the use of LED immediately following skin procedures such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, micro needling and laser treatments, with some skin care professionals saying that it should not happen as it stops results from happening and others stating that it enhances safety and treatment outcomes. (Image by Avenue Aesthetics).

 

The source of the unfounded rumour stating that you should not have LED immediately after these procedures is yet to be identified, however there is ample published scientific research to support the use of LED immediately following the procedure to enhance safety and treatment outcomes. Let’s have a look at what science says about this debate!

 

Trelles and Allones (2006) conducted research to see if using LED immediately following eye surgery and ablative laser treatment, which removes the top layers of the skin, enhances outcomes.  They found that the skin healed more rapidly with modulation of inflammation, enhanced new cell production required to heal the skin and a decrease in skin redness and discomfort.  Collagen and elastin are required for treating skin aging, and LED enhanced the production of these cells improving outcomes for patients 6.  Wanitphakdeedecha et al. (2019) found similar results in that the use of LED following laser treatment significantly reduced redness.

Barolet (2016) performed a study in which they conducted LED treatment immediately following laser treatment and also found that port-treatment wound healing was enhanced which improved outcomes for the client. They also found that LED was not detrimental to the treatment outcomes for the client, and therefore did not negatively impact the results clients noticed. (Image by Avenue Aesthetics).

 

Calderhead et al. (2015) explained the importance of reducing downtime following aesthetic procedures to increase safety and help clients get back to their normal daily routines, and how LED can achieve this through modulation of inflammation, reducing redness and reducing healing time 8.  Kim and Calderhead (2011) explain that by using LED to enhance healing following cosmetic procedures the skin heals in a better pattern more rapidly with decreased down time 9.

 

This evidence indicates that by performing LED immediately following cosmetic procedures downtime is reduced, healing is enhanced, the processes involved in skin rejuvenation are enhanced and outcomes can be enhanced. So, the question is – why the rumour? I will let you decide for yourself!

 

As you can see, LED light therapy has multiple benefits for the skin, with this being a very brief introduction and overview. If you have any further burning questions you would like answered about LED post in the comments below or contact us through the contact button to the left!

 

 

 

1 Sauder, D. N. (Light-emitting diodes: their role in skin rejuvenation. International Journal of Dermatology, 49(1), 12-16. https://doi-org.10.1111/j.1365-4632.2009.04246.x

Boulos, P. R., Kelley, J. M., Falcao, M. F., Trembley, J. F., Davis, R. B., Hatton, M. P., & Rubin, P. A. D. (2009). In the eye of the beholder – skin rejuvenation using a light-emitting diode photobiomodulation device. Dermatologic Surgery, 35(), 229-239. 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2008.34414.x

3 Calderhead, R. G., & Vasily, D. B. (2016). Low-level light therapy with light-emitting didoes for the aging face. Clinics in Plastic Surgery, 43(3), 541-550. 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2008.34414.x

Sorbellini, E., Rucco, M., & Rinaldi, F. (2018). Photodynamic and photobiological effects of light emitting diode (LED) therapy in dermatological disease: An Update. Lasers in Medical Science, 33(7), 1431-1439. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-018-2584-8

5 Wanitphakdeedecha, R., Iamphonrat, T., Phothong, W., Eimpunth, S., & Manuskiatti, W. (2019). Local and systemic effects of low-level light therapy with light emitting diodes to improve erythema after fractional ablative skin resurfacing: A controlled study. Lasers in Medical Science, 34(), 343-351. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-018-2599-1

6 Trelles MA, Allones I (2006) Red light-emitting diode (LED) therapy accelerates wound healing post-blepharoplasty and periocular laser ablative resurfacing. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 8, 39–42.

Barolet, D. (2016). Accelerating ablative fractional resurfacing wound healing recovery by photobiomodulation. Current Dermatology Reports, 5(), 232-238. DOI: 10.1007/s13671-016-0151-8

Calderhead, R. G., Kim, W. S., Ohshiro, T., Trelles, M. A., & Vasily, D. B. (2015). Adjunctive 830nm light emitting diode therapy can improve the results following aesthetics procedures. Laser Therapy, 24(4), 277-289. www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/islsm

9 Kim, W. S., & Calderhead, R. G. (2011). Is light-emitting diode phototherapy (LED_LLLT) really effective? Laser Therapy, 20(3), 205-215. www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/islsm