Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy, has become an increasingly popular natural treatment option. It involves exposing the body to red and near-infrared light for a range of proposed benefits like reducing inflammation, accelerating healing, and improving skin health.
While many people choose professional red light therapy at clinics, red light devices have also become available for convenient at-home use. But with so many device options out there, how do you choose what will work best for your needs?
Understanding the Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy works by delivering light at specific wavelengths that can positively affect cells within the body. The light absorbed by the cells initiates a series of biological reactions that can provide the following benefits:
- Increases blood flow and circulation
- Stimulates collagen production for anti-aging effects
- Reduces inflammation and joint pain
- Speeds healing of wounds and injuries
- Improves skin tone, texture, and appearance
- Helps counteract damage from oxidative stress
While more research is still needed, current studies indicate red light therapy is generally very safe without any known side effects when used as directed. It has shown promising results for conditions like joint pain, wounds, wrinkles, and dermatological issues.
Choosing a Red Light Therapy Device for Home Use
There are many factors to consider when selecting a red light therapy device for home use:
Type of Device
There are three main types of red light therapy devices:
- Red Light Therapy Panels – These larger standalone panels are designed to expose large areas of the body to red and near-infrared light simultaneously. They allow treatment of multiple areas like the legs, back, and arms at the same time.
- Red Light Therapy Masks/Helmets – These devices are designed to be worn over the face/head for convenient hands-free treatment of the face, scalp, and neck.
- Red Light Therapy Handheld Devices – Smaller handheld wands or patches allow targeted treatment of specific problem areas like the joints, muscles, face, or wounds.
Consider the size of the area you need to treat and how many LED bulbs/diodes the device features. The more LEDs, the broader the coverage area.
Look for red light ranging from 640-660nm and near-infrared light from 850-880nm. Near-infrared penetrates deeper into the body while red light is very beneficial for skin.
Treatment times will vary based on condition and energy dose with most professional devices using 2-25 minute sessions. At-home devices designed for safety and convenience often have shorter 5-10 minute treatments.
This measures the rate of energy delivery. Higher power density and energy doses allow shorter treatment times. Look for power density of at least 10-50mW/cm2.
Choose a device with adjustable settings like treatment timer and intensity to customize treatments.
Look for LEDs that are CE or FDA certified or compliant to ensure product safety.
Prices range widely from $50 for small handheld units to over $500 for clinical-grade panel devices allowing for more budget flexibility.
How to Use Your Red Light Therapy Device at Home
Once you’ve chosen the best device for your needs, be sure to follow usage recommendations to achieve optimal results:
Understand Proper Dosage
The dose you receive depends on the unit’s power density, treatment time, and your distance from the light. Follow manufacturer instructions carefully.
Clean and Disinfect Skin
Cleanse skin before treatment to remove lotions, makeup, oils etc. that may interfere with light absorption.
Position Yourself Properly
Place the light panel/device directly against the skin or as close as possible per instructions.
Protect Your Eyes
Always wear provided safety goggles to protect your eyes from the intense light.
Start with Brief, Low-Power Sessions
Begin with conservative 5-10 minute treatments at the lowest setting, then gradually increase duration and intensity as tolerated.
Target Multiple Areas
Move the handheld device around or stand/sit in different positions to target problem areas like joints, wounds, etc.
Use your device regularly according to protocols for maximum benefits. Effects compound over time.
Track Your Results
Note improvements in your condition to monitor effects and adjust treatments accordingly.
Avoid Eye Contact
Never stare directly into the light. Keep your eyes closed or wear eye protection.
Recommended Treatment Protocols
Treatment plans can vary substantially depending on your specific needs. Here are some evidence-based recommendations for common uses of red light therapy at home:
- 4-10 minute treatment 2-3x per day
- Place light 2-4 inches from wound surface
- Continue until healed, adjusting duration as needed
- 10-15 minute treatment over affected joints 1-2x daily
- Start with lower intensity, increasing over time
- Continue for 2-4 weeks minimum depending on pain
- 10-20 minute face treatment every other day
- Cleanse and apply serums/moisturizers after for enhanced effects
- Maintain 2-3x weekly after initial 4-6 week intensive treatment
- 10-15 minute scalp treatment every other day
- Part hair to ensure light reaches scalp evenly
- Continue for 12+ weeks before assessing results
Are There Any Risks or Side Effects?
When used correctly, red light therapy is very safe for at-home use without major risks. Potential side effects include:
- Mild Skin Irritation – Can occur with higher intensity/doses. Decrease exposure time if rash/irritation develops.
- Headaches – Can sometimes occur initially. Drink water and reduce treatment duration.
- Fatigue – Uncommon. Rest your eyes periodically during treatment.
- Eye strain – Avoid staring into light and take breaks as needed.
Red light therapy is not recommended for those with light-sensitive conditions or anyone on photosensitizing medications. Check with your doctor first if you have any concerns.
Are Red Light Therapy Devices Worth the Cost?
While professional red light therapy can be very expensive at tens of thousands of dollars, at-home devices provide similar benefits at a fraction of the price. With competitive pricing as low as $50-$500 and no ongoing costs, they can be a worthwhile investment for many consumers.
Factors that help determine if a home device is worth the cost include:
- Your budget constraints
- The size/number of areas you need to treat
- How frequently you plan to use light therapy
- The severity of your condition
- Cost compared to other treatment alternatives
Home devices can make red light therapy affordable and convenient, letting you achieve results without repeated professional visits.
Comparing the Best At-Home Red Light Therapy Devices
With so many red light therapy products now available for home use, it can be tricky choosing what will fit your needs and budget. Here is a comparison of some top-rated devices:
|Celluma Pro||LED Light Panel||Full-body capable. 250+ medical-grade LEDs. Auto timer and intensity settings.|
|Platinum LED BioMAX Series||Light Panel||Up to 200W power. 700nm and 880nm near-infrared wavelengths. 3 year warranty.|
|Red Light Man Infrared Mini||Handheld Device||650nm and 850nm LEDs. Portable, rechargeable. Unlimited 20 minute treatments.|
|Trophy Skin RejuvaliteMD||Handheld + Helmet||196 red & 82 infrared LEDs. Auto and manual timer modes. 30 day risk free trial.|
|Infrared-iQ Near-Infrared Light Therapy Pad||Handheld Pad||800nm and 940nm wavelengths for deeper penetration. Velcro pad for hands-free use.|
Is Red Light Therapy Worth Trying?
Considering the wide array of purported benefits and overall safety, red light therapy can be worth trying for many people, especially when convenient at-home devices make it more accessible. While individual results can never be guaranteed, the potential upsides tend to outweigh the risks.
Like any health treatment, having reasonable expectations is important. Low-level light therapy is not a cure-all, and results will vary based on the condition, your body’s response, and correct usage. Patience and consistency are key. It may take up to 2-3 months of regular use to notice significant effects.
While more controlled clinical studies are still needed to fully validate results, many people give glowing anecdotal reports of red light therapy’s positive impact on muscle recovery, joint pain, wounds, hair growth, skin quality, and more. The low cost and non-invasive nature makes it easy to experiment with in the comfort of your own home.
Red light therapy offers an accessible, drug-free way to potentially achieve a wide array of health and aesthetic benefits. With the range of affordable, convenient devices now available for home use, it has become easier than ever to incorporate red light treatments into your daily routine.
While professional systems with higher intensity may yield faster, more dramatic results, even lower-powered home devices can be highly worthwhile for the price. Taking the time to properly research and select the right device for your needs and budget can provide great value for your wellness and appearance goals.