The Pros and Cons of Red Light Therapy: Would You Try It?

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Do you ever wonder what alternative treatments and new innovations are out there to help you manage your health concerns? One medical innovation that’s gaining popularity is Red Light Therapy. But before you book a session or buy a product, it’s essential you know everything about it, including its benefits and drawbacks.

Red Light Therapy is a non-invasive and safe procedure. It can help patients manage an array of skin concerns and can help with pain management. But at the same time, the procedure lacks standardization and in-depth research and studies, which is undoubtedly a concern for many.

Of course, RLT isn’t for everyone. A lot of other factors come into deciding which treatments you should try and which ones you should pass on.

In this article, we’ll delve into what red light therapy is, how it works, and the pros and cons one can expect.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red Light Therapy (RLT) is a non-invasive, non-surgical, painless, and low-risk light therapy. Over the years, there has been a lot of research on its supposed health benefits.

Today, it’s widely known to be used in the cosmetics and beauty industry due to its many skin benefits. You can find tons of salons offering RLT. There is also a flock of home-use devices available in the market right now, allowing consumers to achieve its many benefits right in their own homes.

Before we dive deeper into the entire process and how it works, Red Light Therapy is also sometimes referred to as:

  • Low-level laser therapy (LLT)
  • Low-power laser therapy
  • Low-level light therapy
  • Photobiomodulation (PBM) or photobiomodulation therapy
  • Biostimulation
  • Photonic stimulation
  • Red light phototherapy
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Soft laser therapy

Regardless of what it’s called, it refers to the same thing – the use of red light wavelengths to stimulate the natural healing of the body’s cells.

How does Red Light Therapy work?

Red light therapy is a non-invasive, simple, and painless procedure and treatment.

Red light therapy works by using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to deliver red and near-infrared (NIR) light wavelengths to the skin and to the body’s cells. These wavelengths are known to address numerous health and skin conditions.

These red and near-infrared light wavelengths can have a size ranging from 600 to 1,100 nm (nanometers).

The way the procedure works is the red and NIR wavelengths penetrate deep into the skin, cells, and tissues. This process activates mitochondria, which generate energy in cells.

The main focus of these wavelengths is to stimulate the mitochondria to produce ATP or adenosine triphosphate. ATP molecules are responsible for providing energy to the body’s muscles, which you need to function.

When we age or get sick, the mitochondria will most likely produce far less ATP than what our body needs. The idea behind RLT is it counters this effect, promoting the body’s natural healing process.

Red light or near-infrared light is used because studies show that this wavelength penetrates through skin tissue and cell best.

RLT instruments and devices can go from small handheld devices to huge lamps. Red light therapy treatments could range from as little as five minutes to as long as 30 minutes, depending on the area you’re working on.

There are RLT clinics you can go to for consultations and treatments. In-home RLT devices are also widely available for your own comfort and convenience.

Is it safe?

Many naturally question the safety of RLT. The good news is, red light therapy is completely safe, painless, and non-invasive.

There may be a slight warming sensation but it doesn’t get too hot to the point it’s uncomfortable or painful.

While there may be minor side effects like hyperpigmentation or skin sensitivity, these are only topical and will not last for long.

What Does Red Light Therapy Help With?

Red light therapy offers an array of benefits for body and skin health and we will be diving deeper into this later. But generally, RLT helps with:

  • Promoting healthier cell function;
  • Managing inflammation and chronic pain;
  • Increasing elastin and collagen production;
  • Improving blood flow and circulation;
  • Enhancing muscle recovery and repair;
  • Promoting healthier and stronger hair growth; and
  • Enhancing quality of sleep.

Red Light Therapy: All the Good and the Bad

If you’re still on the fence about whether you should try red light therapy or not, we’re here to help you decide.

Below, we will be breaking down all the good and all the bad of RLT so you can make the best decision for yourself and your needs:

Red Light Therapy Pros

  1. It’s simple, non-invasive, and safe across all skin types

One of the many perks of red light therapy is it’s a very simple and easy treatment. It’s also non-invasive and non-surgical. One wouldn’t have to risk going under the knife to address multiple concerns.

Anyone can get the treatment done in treatment clinics, salons, or in the comfort of their own home.

RLT devices can treat large areas of the body at the same time. This means you won’t have to go through multiple sessions at a time to target multiple areas. This contributes to it being a quick and simple procedure.

  1. It’s easily accessible in the form of a clinic or an at-home red light therapy device

There are many clinics or salons that offer RLT to their customers. In-home RLT devices are also widely available in the market right now. These home devices open up easy accessibility to a whole new level.

  1. There are very few side effects and risks

Red light therapy is generally considered safe for all skin types. The procedure doesn’t require the use of any harsh substances or painful heat. There haven’t been many reports of people experiencing rashes and allergic reactions to it.

Plus, this is a totally non-invasive procedure so you’re not putting yourself at a huge risk.

  1. It offers a wide array of skin benefits
  • Skin aging

When red light penetrates deep into the skin, this promotes and increases cell growth and turnover. This also stimulates collagen and elastin production. What results is firmer, plumper, and more youthful-looking skin.

RLT can also help with skin hydration and elasticity, both of which give skin a more youthful appearance by reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

  • Skin rejuvenation and repair

With increased cell turnover, the skin is able to repair itself better and faster. When red light penetrates deeper into the skin, this boosts and encourages healthy cell activity. This leaves skin looking and feeling rejuvenated and significantly-improved skin complexion. If you’re interested in these light technologies for skin rejuvenation, learn about broadband light therapy too.

  • Wound healing

RLT enhances blood flow and helps with increased cell growth. This is a huge benefit for healing wounds, especially chronic wounds.

  • Acne and scars

RLT can help the skin deal with inflammation, keeping acne at bay. And by promoting collagen production and increasing cell turnover, it can help reduce the appearance of scars on the skin.

  1. It addresses chronic, joint, and muscle pain

RLT aids in tissue repair. It also has anti-inflammatory effects. This offers great chronic, joint, and muscle pain relief. It’s also known to reduce pain in patients with musculoskeletal pain.

At the same time, exposure to red light can help damaged or torn muscles heal and regenerate.

  1. It can also address dental and hair growth issues

Red light therapy is used in the dental profession to help reduce dental pain and inflammation.

RLT is also known to help patients deal with hair loss and hair growth issues. The procedure can help stimulate hair growth so hair grows back healthier and stronger.

Red Light Therapy Cons

  1. It’s not a quick fix

If you’re hoping to achieve results with red light therapy, you need to keep in mind that it’s not a quick fix. Effective results would require commitment and multiple, consistent red light therapy sessions.

  1. It’s not a permanent cure

RLT has been a popular procedure for many. And with the many benefits presented, this doesn’t come as a surprise. But you have to keep in mind that it’s not a cure-all procedure.

It may be beneficial for some conditions but may not have the same effects for some. If you’re dealing with a serious illness, don’t rely on just RLT. And always consult with your medical professional before proceeding with any new treatment.

  1. There are still some side effects

Though there are very few reported side effects of RLT, we can’t completely rule it out.

Some with very sensitive skin may experience slight redness, stinging, or irritation. If you have a history of hyperpigmentation, that’s another side effect you might want to keep in mind.

  1. Claims need more research

This may sound contradicting from what we’ve listed and discussed above but it has to be said.

Red light therapy is somehow backed by science, yes, but the procedure lacks in-depth research and studies to back up these claims. Current studies are more on short-term use and there is a lack of studies on long-term use effects.

One claim that floats around is that it can help with managing seasonal affective disorder but that needs more research and studies to back it up.

  1. Lack of standardization on red light therapy devices

One last drawback to RLT is the lack of standardization.

Until now, there is no set standard guideline on how to use them properly. How long to use a device in a certain area and for how many sessions could vary depending on the clinic. These guidelines could vary even more if you’re using home devices instead.

This lack of standardization could lead to unmet expectations and even adverse effects.


If you’re considering alternative treatments, it would be best to research and read about them properly before charging ahead. Of course, you don’t want to experience adverse effects instead of the benefits you’re expecting. One of these treatments that are gaining popularity these days is red light therapy.

Red light therapy offers an array of benefits from skin benefits and management to hair growth concerns. It offers all these while proudly being non-invasive and safe for all skin types. Its major drawback, however, is the lack of standardization about how each treatment session should go and the lack of in-depth studies of long-term effects.

And that has been our deep dive and guide on red light therapy and its pros and cons. For any questions, hit us up right below!

Michelle Jackson
Michelle Jackson