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LED Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is a skin treatment that combines blue and red visible light to accelerate skin healing. It’s known to reduce acne, scars, sun damage and even wrinkles. It evens out the complexion, reduces redness, gets rid of fine lines, and shrinks the appearance of pores.

Unlike the UV spectrum rays that are used in laser and tanning beds, these wavelengths are in the visible light spectrum and aren’t damaging to the skin. LED light therapy has little to no side effects. Treatments are relaxing and can also boost your mood.

One common form of acne treatment is to prescribe antibiotics that kill Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that is known to create acne by triggering skin inflammation. Unfortunately, this contributes to antibiotic resistance and is not a good long term solution.

A microscopic iamge of the Proprionibacterium acne that can cause acne.

Image Source: Smith Collection/Gado

This up and coming acne treatment zaps the acne bacteria using light, instead of antibiotics. LED light therapy works by combining blue (409-419 nanometers) and red (630-650 nanometers) wavelengths. Blue wavelengths destroy P. acnes, and balances the skin’s pH levels to prevent further growth of the bacteria. It can also promote wound healing.  Red light stimulates the fibroblasts that produce collagen, making it excellent for preventing scar formation in wounds, scar healing, and wrinkle reduction. It also reduces skin inflammation, and promotes new skin growth.

Red and Blue light therapy work better together than individually. One study showed that daily fifteen minutes of combination light therapy reduced lesions by an average of 76% over a twelve week period, while individual light therapy reduced lesions by an average of 63%.

Not any old LED light will work. To effectively reach the skin, the LED lights must be the correct wavelength and the device must have the correct power and wattage. Commercial devices have conflicting results. Treatments are best done at a dermatologist’s office or spa, where the machine will be a higher intensity and more effective in a shorter amount of time. Results can also be improved by exfoliating before the session and protecting your skin from the sun after treatment.

Phototherapy effects can also be increased by a topical serum used during treatments such as salicyclic acid serum recommended by an esthetician, or a photosensitizer as prescribed by a dermatologist.

Patients can see changes in their skin in as early as one session, but it takes an average of four weeks to obtain the maximum benefits of phototherapy. Typical treatments are 2-4 times a week and range in price from 30-125  dollars a treatment. Because of its price, LED light therapy is better as a complimentary skin treatment.

Whether for acne maintenance, scar healing or fine line reduction, LED light therapy can improve your complexion.

Feature Image Source: Lights_0096 by Tim Simpson

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