LED Light Therapy
Like many other innovations we now take for granted, like radial tires, enriched baby foods and memory foam, light-emitting diodes, or LED lights, and the knowledge of their potential benefits, can trace their origins to the NASA space program. Two primary concerns prompted early research into the properties of the different color wavelengths of natural sunlight—growing plants in space and healing humans on earth.
Light is made up of different frequency bands divided into what we see as colors. When we see a rainbow or light refracted through a crystal prism, we know that sunlight contains all colors, ranging from ultraviolet (UV) (the shortest wavelength at less than 400 nanometers), up through red (the longest we can see at 750 nm) and infrared (the longest at above 760 nm), which is beyond the ability of the human eye to detect. Each color penetrates human skin at different depths according to its wavelength, with UV barely entering the epidermis and infrared able to reach muscle.
All of the colors have different properties, but blue, red and infrared are the ones most commonly harnessed for their health benefits. Blue light has an antimicrobial effect and so is commonly used to treat acne-prone skin in an effort to control the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria responsible for most breakouts. In this age of antibiotic resistance, there is also ongoing research to study what other infections may be prevented with blue light therapy.
Red LED has become the darling of skin therapists because of its ability to increase circulation and stimulate collagen and elastin production in the dermis, which improves the skin’s firmness and elasticity, thereby reducing wrinkles. To obtain visible results, repeated exposure to the light source is required, but once achieved, fewer sessions are necessary to maintain the improvement.
Infrared LED treatment has become a commonly used physical therapy tool to deliver healing energy to deeper tissues, reducing pain and inflammation and speeding recovery after injury or surgery. Infrared therapy works to allow the body to absorb this beneficial spectrum of light on a cellular level, addressing many health conditions at their root cause, while operating in a totally noninvasive manner. Not only are professional grade LED devices available, but devices suitable for home use can also be easily purchased.
Dr. Suzanne M. Pear, R.N., Ph.D., LE COE, Clinical Nurse Aesthetician, works at Pampered Skin Studio. Connect at 520-400-8109, DoctorSuzie@PamperedSkinStudio.com or PamperedSkinStudio.com. See ad, page 4.