Several years ago, I cashed in a gift certificate to a tanning salon. According to its website, I had the option to get a base tan in time for summer (my ethnic skin doesn’t burn easily if it’s gradually acclimated) or to try an anti-aging treatment, called red light therapy. Upon arrival, I learned that whichever I chose, I could sample the other every Friday. What a deal! I opted for the red light since I only needed an occasional tan boost. (Incidentally, a responsible salon will educate customers about excessive UV exposure and offer protective eye gear and specially formulated skincare products.) and figured if it was worth a try, since I wasn’t spending any of my own money. It significantly boosted my mood and subsequently improved my sleep. With the aid of specially formulated products, I was able to reduce the appearance (and in some cases erase) scars and stretch marks.
Exposure to red light has many benefits, including the reduction of high blood pressure and cholesterol, faster wound healing (as a result of improved blood flow and restoration of collagen) and strengthened immune response to viral infections. This is– in part– due to its ability to reduce inflammation, which helps treat conditions, such as sinusitis, arthritis, psoriasis and postoperative edema. Red light is also an effective treatment for symptoms of diabetes, dementia, and thyroid disorders.
The treatment I received at the tanning salon was via specially designed beds; like the tanning beds, they had long light bulbs, which resembled the tube-style that office buildings install intermittently up inside a drop ceiling (white fibrous tiles filled with little holes) behind a textured sheet of plastic. NASA is credited with initial research findings. For a time, treatment was only available at dermatologist’s office. Now, everything from large light bulbs to diodes small enough to clip into a nostril or to line the inside of a sculpted plastic facial mask (it actually looks like a hockey face shield featured in horror movies) are commercially available.
As with any product or treatment, buyer beware. To help you discern which version red light therapy is right for you and/or vet facilities and consumer brands, keep the following in mind:
- Due to a variety of factors– namely low cost-effectiveness despite high customer demand–, some facilities use expired bulbs. As with any business, there exist both ethical and unethical managers. (Fortunately, I got to know the owners of the salon where I received my treatment; their decision to offer red light was based upon personal experience with significant weight loss, high anxiety and recurring psoriasis, so it was in everyone’s best interest to regularly replace used bulbs.)
- LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) deliver light without the heat other kinds of bulbs generate but heat can enhance results depending upon the condition being treated.
- Red light can harm the eye’s retina; protective goggles are advisable.
- In-home remedies tend to be weaker than in-office treatments and thus require more exposure to red light.
- Intermittent exposure to red light is as effective as extended exposure.
- Although rare, instances of triggering the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) have been reported.
NOTE: Paragraphs following these were deleted by this platform. As always, I attempt to provide a resource to anyone who might be in need of this treatment. Besides this blog’s disclaimer page, on which I specify I’m not affiliated with any organization nor do I endorse any specific company or brand, I will reiterate this information should not be construed as a medical diagnosis, nor is it intended to replace a trusted physician’s recommendation. Moreover, several links to verifiable scientific research were deleted. I have replaced them with reworded labeling in the hopes of evading heavy censorship from algorithms designed to suppress certain information. (If it’s bunk, why not discredit NASA, instead?)
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