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What Is Red Light Therapy

Simply put, RLT ( Red Light Therapy) is a therapeutic technique that involves exposure of some parts of the body to red lights or near-infrared lights of low wavelengths.

Contrary to what many folks think, red light and near-infrared lights are not totally alike, although both of them are low wavelength lights, they do not have the same properties. An important thing to note is that whilst both of them can produce the sensation of heat, only red light is visible to the human eye.

Red light therapy isn't a new procedure, in fact, it has been around since the early 1900s. Then, scientists used it to aid the growth of plants, especially in space. Thus, research started on it as scientists wanted to find out it if it would have the same effect on the human body and cells.

It was hoped that RLT would be able to increase the energy inside human cells and help improve and treat various illnesses such as muscle atrophy,
skin issues ( acne, scars, wrinkles) and also prove to be an effective treatment for slow wound healing amongst other health-related conditions. They discovered that the intense light emitted by red-emitting diodes (LEDs) can help the growth and photosynthesis of plants.

Other names for Red light therapy include but are not limited to:

How Does It Work

Red light therapy is a therapeutic procedure in which some parts of your skin are exposed to a device, usually a lamp or laser with red light. This red light is natural and can probe deeply into the skin where a particular cell organelle responsible for generating energy for the cell – the mitochondria – can absorb it and use it to make more energy.


In the cells of living organisms, the molecule that carries energy around the body is called Adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

By using RLT to increase the function of the mitochondria, more ATP can be generated, thus creating more energy for the cells to function more effectively, repair themselves and become healthier.


This aids in healing the muscles and skin tissues. However, unlike other laser therapies, RLT does not cause any damage to the surface of the skin, it skips this harsh step and directly stimulates regeneration and healing of the skin.

Potential Health Benefits Of RLT

Although hundreds of clinical and laboratory studies have been conducted to discover if RLT has medical benefits, additional research still needs to be carried out to get conclusive evidence. Potentially, RLT may be of help in the following areas:


RLT can potentially help in speeding up the process of wound healing. This is especially helpful for slow-healing wounds like diabetic foot ulcers. RLT helps in the following ways;


It increases the production of the energy-carrying ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) in the injured cell thereby giving it an extra push to repair the tissues and muscles faster.


It also helps to reduce swelling in the cells and increase the production of collagen and helpful fibroblasts which play an important role in wound healing and repairing of cell structures.

Red-Light-Therapy For Wounds Healing
Red Light Therapy For Acne


Recent researches have shown that light therapies are better alternatives for the treatment and prevention of acne.


Sebums are produced by sebaceous glands and it has been proven that sunlight can change the way these glands behave. Sunlight can help calm overactive glands that produce excess sebum that clog the pores and cause acne.


However, sunlight contains UV(Ultraviolet) rays which may cause other skin issues and this makes their usage limited.


RLT is a better and more effective treatment for acne. It helps to calm overactive glands, reduce sebum production and inflammation of the area without causing other skin issues as sunlight would.


Research has shown that along with other light therapies, RLT can help smoothen the skin and help with wrinkles. It does this by building and increasing the production of collagen which gives the skin its elastic properties.


It also helps to improve the circulation of blood between tissue cells, reduction of fine lines, rejuvenating the skin, and improvement of facial texture. The beautiful thing about RLT for skin health is that it is conducive for all skin types.


It should be noted that most of the results and studies RLT come from animal and test-tube tests. Studies on human beings are small and limited.

Improve Skin Health
Hair Growth


A study was carried out on the use of light therapy to treat people with loss or deficiency of hair – alopecia. Two groups were used for this study, the first group was treated with low-level light and the other group, the control group, was treated with just normal hair growth medications.


The study showed that people who were treated with RLT showed increased hair growth, thicker hair volume, and had higher hair density than the other group.


It was also noted that the RLT was more effective when lights with wavelengths between the ranges of 665 and 808nm (nanaometers) were used.

Although this study was carried out with a small group of people, it clearly shows that RLT could definitely be of help in hair growth.


RLT is now being combined with some other form of liposuction treatments to induce weight loss and remove fat.


Many lipo wraps which use red light to burn calories are now rampant in the market. These wraps work together with the body's ability to burn calories making them a safe and healthy choice for losing weight. They also assist in body contouring and comfortably shaping the body.


What further makes these wraps a better alternative than other forms of liposuction is the fact that they don't require any form of surgery or incision and they are conducive for all ages, sizes, and heights.

weight loss
pain relief


RLT has been proven to be an effective pain relief medication.


It helps in the short-term reduction of pains associated with musculoskeletal illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and pain in the Achilles tendon.


It does this by helping to improve the health of the joints, skeletons, tissues, and muscles. It has also shown promising results in the reduction of side effects of cancer treatments.


A recent study shows that RLT helped improve healing after a facial bone defect treatment has been done.


RLT helped reduce the inflammation and pain associated with this procedure.


Thus, it can be implied that RLT can help hasten recovery especially from surgeries and procedures that involve reconstruction of the bones.

bone recovery
anti inflammatory


In virtually all the cases we've mentioned that RLT can treat, its anti-inflammatory property has been mentioned one way or the other. It was discovered that when RLT was applied on some parts of the body, and some tissues and organs, it exhibited anti-inflammatory properties.


This property is potentially one of the most beneficial uses of RLT as it'll help treat chronic and acute disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, psoriasis, and tendinitis which are caused by inflammation.


It should be noted that the particular and recommended wavelength of the red lights should be strictly adhered to in order to achieve the maximum effect of the therapy.

Potential Risks Of RLT

Ideally, Red light therapy is a completely safe, natural, non – invasive, and painless procedure. Unlike sunlight, the level of light it exposes the skin to is safe and healthy. However, it could be potentially harmful if it is misused. Some users try to combine all their weekly sessions into just one session.


However, this can prove harmful. Let's say you're supposed to spend 15 minutes in front of the red lights for 4 days in a week, you might be tempted to just combine all the sessions in a day and spend a total of 1 hour on a particular day to make up for the missed sessions, this should not be done as it can expose your skin to an unhealthy intensity of red light. If too much of it is exposed to the skin of a user, it can cause damage to the skin like burns and blisters.


Maintaining the right distance from your RLT device is also very important as too much closeness could cause blisters and burns and too much distance could also prevent the device from working effectively. Also, it is usually wrongly assumed that red lights and NIR's (Near-infrared lights) have the same properties and could be used interchangeably. NIR can be used to treat conditions like cognitive health, pain relief, and healing and due to its ability to probe deeply into the skin while red light is more effective in treating conditions relating to skin issues, healing of wounds, and growth of hair.


If either of the lights are used for the wrong reasons, they could potentially harm the surface of the skin to which they are exposed. It can also be harmful to the unprotected eyes. Thus, instructions on how to use the RLT device or gadget should be followed to the letter and the eyes should be properly protected when using RLT devices.

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It is advised that before you settle for a provider and an RLT device to use, you should consult your doctor or a medical practitioner. RLT devices are relatively low cost and since they're not medicines per se, they can be easily purchased.


However, when purchasing your home-use RLT device, you should consider your needs and get one that will effectively work for you. You should also ensure that the RLT device you're getting is one that has been properly calibrated to the particular wavelength you need to use.


For treatment of more serious conditions like psoriasis, arthritis, dementia, and so on, you should see your doctor before making any purchase or signing up for anything. Many salons, spas, and gyms also offer RLT based cosmetics, however, care should be taken when visiting and using these establishments. Always ensure that the wavelengths used are effective for your needs and always remember to protect your eyes.

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