Light Therapy and Anti-Aging

Aside from public speaking and death, aging is one of most terrifying inevitabilities for many people. Unsurprisingly, products that claim to slow down the aging process by hiding out subtle fine lines and minimizing conspicuous wrinkles are very popular. Right now, there is a lot of buzz around light therapy and its anti-aging effectiveness. How does it work? Is it even true that it works? Where is the evidence?

So first off, there are two main types of light therapy for aging. The first one is done in a doctor’s office through photodynamic radiation. The second one is the do-it-yourself type that you can perform in the privacy of your home using hand held light therapy devices.

For many years, doctors have been using photodynamic radiation to treat chronic skin conditions such as cancer, rosacea and cystic acne. These treatments have largely been successful and are today used to rejuvenate the skin and eliminate wrinkles.

One study by the University Of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor found that treating patients using photo-dynamic light therapy led to the increase in proteins that are responsible for the growth of new skin cells. After the treatment, patients had thicker skin and their skin produced more collagen, which helps to further strengthen the skin.

How About The Home Light Therapy Devices, Do They Work?

As you might imagine, at home light therapy devices have attracted a lot of attention. After all, these devices can be a substantial investment, so you need to know whether they work.

Red light spectrum has been found to be the most effective in rejuvenating the skin. Red light LED devices claim to be able to help the skin generate collagen, heal the skin and slow down the aging process.

What's The Evidence?

NASA invented the first LED lights when they were looking for a way to germinate plants in space. Later, experiments found that LED light helped in cell growth, to treat brain tumors and heal wounds.

Another group of researchers in Germany concluded that by targeting the water layers in the skin using LED light, facial wrinkles could be minimized.

However, researchers have also found that in as much as LED light can be quite effective at reducing wrinkles, too much exposure to LED can lead to oxygenation. This has the potential to damage the skin. So, prolonged exposure to light therapy is not recommended at all.

What’s The Verdict?

There is good, supportive evidence to document that LED light therapy can help to alleviate wrinkles and slow down the aging process. However, there is substantial risk to overexposing your skin to red light—moderation is key. It is also important to keep up with a healthy skin care regimen and to only use light therapy as a complementary procedure to keep your skin looking younger and vibrant.

In essence, what the red light does it to improve the effectiveness of the skin barrier and boost its capacity to generate important enzymes needed to produce collagen. Red LED light is also known to slow down the production of cytokines, the pro-inflammatory elements that cause cystic acne.

Pros and Cons:

  • Whether done by a medical professional or at home with a handheld device
  • requires multiple treatments
  • does not affect acne-causing bacteria; long-term results are unknown (but so far these treatments seem to be safe)
  • when done by a medical professional, the costs can vary from $50–$200 or more per treatment
  • May help reduce signs of aging, including wrinkles around the eyes
  • a better choice for those struggling with acne and wrinkles
  • minimal risk of side effects, especially when used without light-activating chemicals (this is common when done by a medical professional)
  • no downtime

For more content on how to fight wrinkles, take a look at our post on best essential oils for wrinkles.