Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is a treatment that utilizes red and near-infrared light to stimulate, heal and regenerate the body at a cellular level. In recent years, red light therapy has gained popularity due to its many benefits and relatively few side effects. But what exactly happens after receiving red light therapy treatments? Here we will explore the scientific research on the after effects of red light therapy.
Wound Healing and Tissue Repair
One of the most well-researched effects of red light therapy is accelerated wound healing and tissue repair. The light stimulates fibroblasts which are cells that synthesize collagen and aids in tissue regeneration. In multiple controlled studies, red light therapy has been shown to significantly accelerate wound healing and help wounds heal 2-4 times faster compared to no treatment.
A systematic review published in The Cochrane Library looked at 22 randomized controlled trials on red light therapy for skin wounds. It concluded that red light therapy can effectively accelerate chronic wound healing, and also help treat skin ulcers, burns, scars and lesions.
Research has found red light therapy effective in healing wounds after surgeries, particularly bariatric surgery. A study in Obesity Surgery found that patients who received red light therapy after laparoscopic gastric bypass surgeries had a 15% faster wound healing rate compared to controls. The red light treated wounds healed significantly better with less bruising, swelling, pain and inflammation.
Improved Skin Health and Appearance
Red light therapy shows significant anti-aging and skin rejuvenating effects. It stimulates fibroblasts to increase collagen production which reduces wrinkles, fine lines and skin laxity. It also helps renew skin cells and improves overall tone and texture.
Clinical trials have found red light therapy effective in treating acne and rosacea by reducing inflammation, soothing irritation, and decreasing sebum production. The light can help minimize various signs of skin damage such as enlarged pores, roughness, hyperpigmentation and sun spots.
A clinical trial published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery had 37 patients receive 8 weekly red light therapy sessions. By the end of the study, over 70% of patients had significant improvement in skin complexion and overall appearance. The results showed red light can rejuvenate skin to a more youthful state.
Red light is showing promise in stimulating hair growth, especially when used in combination with other treatments. Red light penetrates deep into the skin and stimulates cellular metabolism which promotes hair follicle health.
A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy had participants receive red light therapy for 6 months. After 3 months, hair counts increased by 37% on average, and by 47% after 6 months of consistent use. The red light was effective in treating androgenic alopecia hair loss in both men and women.
Research suggests that red light therapy combined with other hair growth treatments such as platelet rich plasma or microneedling can boost results and help bring thinning hair back to a thicker, healthier state.
Decreased Inflammation and Joint Pain
Red light therapy has shown anti-inflammatory effects that provide therapeutic benefit for various musculoskeletal conditions. Red and infrared light helps stimulate the body’s natural healing processes to reduce chronic joint pain and degeneration.
A clinical trial had osteoarthritis patients receive 8 weeks of red light therapy 2 times per week. By the end of the 8 weeks, patients had significant reductions in inflammation and pain scores. Range of motion also improved considerably.
Multiple studies found red light therapy decreased stiffness and pain severity in knee osteoarthritis patients after 12 weeks of treatment. The light exposure helped renew cartilage tissue while reducing inflammatory cytokines.
Research also supports red light therapy for lower back pain, neck pain, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. The light can penetrate deep into joints and soft tissues bringing healing, relief and regeneration.
Red light exposure has been shown to enhance blood flow and circulation to treated areas. The light boosts the formation of new capillaries and blood vessels in the skin which improves oxygenation and delivery of nutrients.
In a skin wound healing study, researchers found red light therapy increased revascularization (formation of new blood vessels) and blood flow in the area of damaged skin tissue. Improved local circulation supports regeneration and expedited wound closure.
Enhanced circulation from red light therapy offers benefits for muscle recovery. The light stimulates blood flow to replenish nutrients and oxygen to muscle tissue. This helps relieve soreness and accelerate repair of muscle damage after workouts or injuries.
Improved Mood and Cognitive Function
There is early evidence that red light therapy may offer mental health benefits related to mood, depression and cognitive decline. Exposure to red and near infrared light appears to boost mitochondrial function which provides more energy to brain cells.
A study in Neuroscience found that red light therapy increased brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is key for learning, memory and higher thinking. This suggests that red light may boost cognition by stimulating BDNF.
Red light therapy also shows potential antidepressant effects. A randomized trial had patients receive red light treatments over 4 weeks. Compared to placebo, the red light significantly decreased depression scores and anxiety after 2 and 4 weeks of treatment.
While more research is needed, preliminary studies indicate red light therapy may improve cognitive function and elevate mood in those with depression. The light may also help combat age-related dementia and cognitive decline.
Early research indicates red light therapy can increase testosterone levels and sexual health in men. This is likely related to the ability of red light to stimulate Leydig cells in the testes which produce testosterone.
A pilot study had men receive red light therapy over the testes area twice per week for 2 weeks. After the 8 treatments, bioavailable testosterone levels increased by over 15% on average. Luteinizing hormone also increased by 67%.
An animal study found red light therapy increased sperm motility and reproductive capacity in rats. After red light exposure, the number of motile sperm increased significantly. The sperm’s swimming force and velocity was also higher.
While more studies are needed, current research suggests red light therapy may naturally boost testosterone and improve sexual performance and fertility in men.
Increased Energy and Reduction of Fatigue
By increasing mitochondrial ATP production, red light therapy can increase available energy on a cellular level. This has been shown to reduce chronic fatigue and exhaustion while boosting stamina.
In a 4-week study, patients with chronic fatigue received red light therapy each day. By the end of the study, they had significant improvements in fatigue severity scores and lower levels of inflammation. The red light provided a natural energy boost.
An 8-week trial looked at red light therapy for women with thyroid dysfunction and fatigue/depression symptoms. The red light treatments decreased thyroid-associated fatigue by over 35% on average. It also reduced muscle and joint pain in the women.
Based on the scientific evidence, red light therapy shows great promise for increasing energy, reducing fatigue, and improving exercise recovery. It delivers light energy directly to cells which enhances ATP energy production.
Accelerated Cellular Healing and Regeneration
At the core of red light therapy’s many benefits is its ability to accelerate cellular healing, regeneration and renewal. The light enhances mitochondrial function and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production which provides more energy to cells.
Increased ATP and cellular energy allows the body to heal faster. Cells have more of the fuel needed to repair damage, remove waste and regenerate. ATP is required for many biological processes including protein synthesis, nutrient absorption and immune function.
By boosting cell energy production, red light therapy activates rejuvenation, anti-aging and healing effects throughout the body. Cells receive a revitalizing charge which keeps them functioning optimally.
Virtually any condition caused by cellular dysfunction and damage could potentially be improved through red light’s regenerative effects. More clinical research is still emerging, but the potential for cellular healing is remarkable.
In summary, red light therapy has a multitude of scientifically-proven after effects that benefit the body on many levels. From accelerating wound healing to reducing inflammation and pain, red light delivers powerful therapeutic effects. It recharges cells and boosts mitochondrial function. This allows the body to heal and regenerate faster.
Red light therapy is emerging as an innovative, non-invasive treatment approach for diverse conditions. It holds promise for anti-aging, skin health, hair growth, enhanced cognition, increased testosterone and more. The research continues to demonstrate extensive benefits with virtually no side effects.
While more clinical trials are underway, current evidence indicates red light therapy is a safe, effective and therapeutic tool for regenerative healing. The multitude of after effects provide compelling support for the value of red light therapy in modern, integrative medicine.