How often Should You Do Red Light Therapy?

Red Light Therapy - how often

Red light therapy (RLT) continues to help many people solve varying problems. Since you can do it at home, reading and understanding manuals is important. It is also important that you understand that what works for you might not work for another.

Have that at the back of your mind, even as figures appear. Any usage recommendations made are subject to change depending on many factors. Successful treatment is also dependent on usage consistency.

At first red light therapy was only accessible at specialist centers. Recent times have seen a rise in RLT apparatus that can be used at home. A consequent need to know how often to make use of them arises. 

Most suggest up to 3 treatments per day when starting. After the first 3-4 weeks, you can then scale down as you continue to experience the results. To keep up gains made, do 5-15 minute sessions for three or four days in a week. That is a general idea, but keep reading for a detailed breakdown.

How Long Does It Take for Red Light Therapy to Work?

You need to understand how RLT works to have an idea of how long a session would last. Its workings and your condition will determine when you first see results.

Here’s how red light therapy works:

If you think of how plants make food when you read of RLT, your mind is not playing tricks on you. Yes, plants absorb sunlight to make food for growth. Humans need natural light too for optimal health and wellness.

Our cells absorb specific red light wavelengths for the production of elastin and collagen. The wavelengths also stimulate oxygen and nutrient delivery to body tissue.

The scientific explanation would be that photon absorption increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-carrying molecule in our cells. More of it means better cell function, and better health as a result [1].

How long before results appear?

Back to our main question. Based on the information shared above, changes appear at varying times. The main influencing factor would be your unique condition.

Regardless of what condition you might be treating, the condition of your cell matters. Heavily worn out cells will take longer to repair. Those that need less time to recover translate to faster results [2].

How Long Is a Red Light Therapy Session?

Results from red light therapy sessions depend on the condition in question. That will be discussed with some session accompanying length recommendations. The average would be anything between 10-30 minutes.

You should, however, understand that it is ok to try until you discover what works for you. Red light therapy has no known negative effects. Hence, you can spend varying amounts of time to see which sessions work best for your condition.

As mentioned earlier, consistency is key. You can have lengthy sessions but if you do it on random days, you get inconsistent results. Also, have minimal or no clothing on you during sessions. While RLT penetrates clothing, treatment is best optimized with no clothing on.

Is It Possible to Overdo Light Therapy?

You might be wondering if you can use red light therapy everyday. If so, how long should your sessions last?

RLT is also known as “cold laser” therapy, as it descended from laser technology. Over the years red light sources have shifted to LED devices. Their low-level light nature means they do not heat up tissue [3].

Thus, RLT can be used daily, and its usage would have no negative effects. Session length depends on the condition being treated. Anything between 10-30 minutes works fine.

There are no known side effects of red light therapy. Yet, some people have reported a slight feeling of skin redness, sensitivity and tightness. If you feel so during sessions, move further from your device or reduce the time you spend.

Using Red Light for Specific Conditions

There are quite a number of conditions that benefit from RLT use. Here are a few of them, accompanied by some recommended dosages.

Lower back pains

Up to 80% of adults suffer from lower back pains at one point of their lives. Up to 149 million days of work get lost every year due to workers’ lower back pains [4].

Furthermore, many work-related disability cases stem from back pains. The most severe ones cause pain and discomfort. Red light therapy offers an effective non-invasive solution. It works well for both short term (acute) and long term (chronic) pains. 

Set your device at least 6 inches from your lower back. You can do this by either standing or staying seated. Spend 10-20 minutes daily, and your lower back pains diminish gradually. With consistent sessions, they could disappear altogether.

Skin care and anti-aging

Wrinkles and freckles have many people frowning. Mention a remedy and they scamper towards it. Whether caused by age or some skin condition, it is a concern for many.

Red light therapy solves this worry for you. It did, for a group of people in a skin health research. They were exposed to red light treatments two times a week. After 30 sessions, they had rejuvenated skin, reduced fine lines, and lesser wrinkles [5].

The recommended distance is at least 6 inches from your RLT device. Even after you have attained desirable results, keep at it. Consistent usage advances skin care, helping you look younger.

Scarring and wounds

When explaining how RLT works we mentioned enhanced collagen production. That, coupled with revamping of cell activity, works magic for skin wounds. 

Researchers in Brazil conducted a study in 2014 to ascertain this fact. Their conclusion was in the affirmative [6].

Stand 6-12 inches from your RLT device for 10-29 minutes. Do this for up to five times weekly, for a period of 1-4 months. Stimulated collagen production helps treat scars, skin wounds and stretch marks. The deeper the scar, the longer the treatment period. 

Muscle healing

If you are an athlete or work out often, RLT is a good companion both before and after exercise. It stimulates regeneration and healing of damaged muscle tissue.

In 2017, a joint study by Brazilian and American researchers set out to investigate RLT’s effect on muscles. They found numerous benefits, including injury prevention, when applied consistently [7].

Before you conduct your exercise have 3-5 minute sessions at 6-8 inches. This helps precondition your muscles and prevent injury as a result. After the exercise is over, have a 10-20 minute session. Stand at 6-8 inches for optimal accelerated recovery. 

In case you already have an injury, do 20 minute daily sessions. Repeat the sessions at 6-12 inches until you get healed.

Chronic skin problems

Such problems include rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. They are quite irritating to individuals as they cause itching and burning sensations. Red light therapy dermatology lends a helping hand.

Based on a study conducted on psoriasis patients, RLT works. The participants had no results from conventional treatment methods. They, however, improved greatly after 20 minute daily sessions over a 4-5 week period [8].

To achieve noticeable results, consistency is key. At first 10-20 minutes at 6-12 inches works. Do this weekly, 3-5 times for 4 months. Maintenance program follows thereafter depending on the progress of the results.

Hair loss

Hair loss affects a great deal of the human population. Right from a receding hairline all the way to the extremes of bald heads.

The good news is that RLT reverses such problems, and curbs progressions where applicable. 90 people aged 18-70 who were bald are proof of this. After exposure to red light in a study, they showed impressive hair growth [9].

To start regrowth you will need 10-20 minute daily sessions. Repeat this at 6-12 inches for 3-5 times in a week. After initial regrowth, have a maintenance program to keep up growth. Hair thickness will come as an added advantage.

Arthritis joint pain

You might be part of the millions that suffer from arthritis joint pain and inflammation worldwide. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are most common. Red light has proven helpful in pain alleviation and mobility improvement.

Fifty aged patients improved from degenerative arthritis after two 15 minute daily RLT sessions. 15 of them applied RLT and showed improvement after ten days. The rest were double-blinded to infrared and placebo treatments [10].

Stay about at least 6 inches from your device for maximum effect. Repeat this process consistently and you will curb joint pains.

Traumatic brain injuries

Quite a number of people experience traumatic injuries to their brains. Causes vary and treatments can be relatively expensive. RLT offers hope for an effective non-invasive alternative.

Researchers found that with the help of RLT they could improve cognition in mild and chronic traumatic brain injury patients. Study participants said they had better sleep and showed reduced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms [11].

The treatment is conducted by exposing the head to the RLT device. 30 minute sessions repeated over time increase blood flow to the brain. This helps stimulate brain cell activity, and repair.

How to Use Red Light Therapy at Home

With many devices made for home use now, you can purchase yours for personal use. Once you have the device, follow the detailed instructions as stated by the manual that comes with it or your doctor’s recommendation if RLT was prescribed to you. 

If suffering from any health or physical problem, red light therapy treatment is at your convenience. Set up the device at the recommended distance. Get consistent red light therapy exposure and you will soon see results.

Does Red Light Therapy Really Work?

Many wonder whether red light treatments work. They do based on several studies done, but they are subject to usage. Follow the instructions well, and you get to see results in no time. Improper use may not have any effects and could delay results.

A study ventured into finding out whether RLT works and these were their sentiments. The RLT device has to emit the right wavelengths at recommended density [12].

Conclusion

Now you know a great deal about red light therapy usage. If you have been going about it in the wrong way, change accordingly to see better results. If you are considering using it for any of the conditions, we hope this guide helps.


References:

  1. Hamblin MR. Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation 2017 May 19 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5523874/
  2. Gupta A et al. Shining Light on Nanotechnology to Help Repair and Regeneration 2012 August 21 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3528806/
  3. Chung H et al. The Nuts and Bolts of Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy 2013 February 1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3288797/
  4. Freburger JK et al. The Rising Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain 2015 February 24 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339077/
  5. Wunsch A, Matuschka K. 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 2014 February 1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3926176/
  6. Chaves MEA et al. Effects of low-power light therapy on wound healing: LASER x LED 2014 July-August –  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4148276/
  7. Ferraresi C, Huang YY, Hamblin MR. Photobiomodulation in human muscle tissue: an advantage in sports performance? 2017 December 1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5167494/
  8. Avci P et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring 2014 August 8 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
  9. Barikbin B et al. Comparison of the effects of 665 nm low level diode Laser Hat versus and a combination of 665 nm and 808nm low level diode Laser Scanner of hair growth in androgenic alopecia 2017 May 17 – https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14764172.2017.1326609?journalCode=ijcl20&
  10. Stelian J et al. Improvement of pain and disability in elderly patients with degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee treated with narrow-band light therapy 1992 January – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1727843/
  11. Naeser MA. Significant Improvements in Cognitive Performance Post-Transcranial, Red/Near-Infrared Light-Emitting Diode Treatments in Chronic, Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Open-Protocol Study 2014 June 3 – https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/neu.2013.3244
  12. Kim WS, Calderhead RG. Is light-emitting diode phototherapy (LED-LLLT) really effective? 2011 March 20 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799034/

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