LED light therapy stimulates a healing response in the skin by delivering colored wavelengths of light into skin cells. Although commonly used on patients by an aesthetician, LED light therapy machines are also sold for use in the home. These wavelengths of healing light can be used to treat acne and premature aging and even in the treatment of a common depressive condition known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.
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The notion of using light wavelengths for healing was first discovered in 1805 by Dr. Niels Finsen as he experimented with light in the treatment of tuberculosis. Light therapy has been researched for its effects on various conditions for the past 30 years. When researchers at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research tested red LED lights on skin cancer patients, they were shown to have a regenerative effect on the skin, which greatly improved its overall appearance.
How It Works
A handheld device is used to deliver wavelengths of light into the skin, which are able to penetrate about 8 mm deep. As the light is absorbed by the skin cells, tissue repair is accelerated. Skin capillary blood vessels open and blood flow increases to the skin, delivering fresh oxygen and nutrients. Moisture retention is increased, and pore size may also appear diminished.
LED light therapy is a useful tool in the fight against premature aging. As skin ages, the fibrous structure that keeps the skin taught and toned loses its resilience. LED light therapy devices can be used to stimulate collagen production in the skin, making the skin appear firmer. According to Light Therapy for Skin.com, a red LED light is useful as a skin treatment to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.
A combination of blue and red LED lights may be used to treat acne. The blue LED spectrum is used to kill the bacteria that cause acne. The bacteria that cause acne absorb the blue light, and the acne may be diminished as a result. To follow up, the red LED light is used on the face to reduce inflammation and reduce acne scarring. Use of the red light may also help to decrease sebum production, which also contributes to the development of acne.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Another major use of LED light therapy is for the treatment of SAD. This disorder is accompanied by episodes of anxiety, despair, sadness and social withdrawal. The main cause of SAD is believed to be attributable to an insufficient amount of natural sunlight exposure during the winter months. Patients with SAD are commonly instructed to integrate sessions of LED lighting exposure into their day. A special bright LED light is used at home, generally once in the morning and at night for a prescribed period of time. The natural healing properties of the sun are mimicked, and an improvement in overall mood and emotional state may be expected.