How Long Does it Take for Red Light Therapy to Work?
Are you considering red light therapy, but wonder how long it takes to work? Here is what you need to know.
Getting outstanding, long-lasting results is never instantaneous—many conditions develop over time, and in many cases, effective treatment takes time, too. Many therapeutic approaches to health, such as physical therapy and massage therapy, require you undergo multiple sessions to achieve long-lasting results. The same is true with red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation therapy, which works over time to revitalize your body for the long term. The big difference is that red light therapy starts helping your body from the first session, and multiple sessions often provide long-lasting results.
Red light therapy is appropriate in the treatment of a variety of conditions because it works both quickly and over time. First and foremost, photobiomodulation reduces inflammation and boosts the production of collagen, which is one of the major building blocks of muscles, skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen production can help heal wounds quickly and prevent the formation of scar tissue; in these cases, red light therapy works quickly. The collagen-boosting properties of red light therapy will reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne, and will improve overall skin elasticity over time. Red light therapy can also work over the long haul by increasing blood circulation and preventing injuries during intense exercise. The therapy also triggers the production of melatonin to improve the quality of your sleep night after night.
About Red Light Therapy
Photobiomodulation (PBMT) uses the power of light to activate changes in the body on a cellular level. I fact, “photobiomodulation” is a combination of three words:
Photo – Light
Bio – Life
Modulation – Change
Photobiomodulation literally means using light to initiate a change in life. The amount of time it takes to initiate and maintain these changes depends on the device used, the condition, the individual settings, and the number of sessions.
Red Light Therapy Devices
PBMT devices emit red light concentrated at specific wavelengths. The light excites the mitochondria, known as the “powerhouses” of body cells. Mitochondria convert nutrients into a basic type of energy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which all living cells use as fuel. Exposure to these wavelengths of red light stimulates the mitochondrial production of ATP, and this boost of energy gives the treated cells and tissues the energy they need to function at their best. Increasing ATP production also helps cells and tissues heal from injuries and other health conditions.
There are a variety of photobiomodulation devices, such as PBMT beds, panels, and laser devices. Each device delivers red light therapy in a slightly different way. PBMT panels and laser devices provide red light therapy to smaller areas of the body, while PBMT beds create a whole-body treatment.
Advanced PBMT devices offer two light settings: continuous wave and pulsed wave. As its name suggests, continuous wave settings provide consistent, unbroken light at low powers to avoid heating tissue. Pulsed waves deliver short nanosecond-long bursts of high-powered light, which delivers more light energy deeper into your body without heating tissues.
Red light therapy has an immediate effect on the body, so you can expect to enjoy some of the benefits of PBMT right away. You might have less pain and swelling in an injured area, for example. You might also notice improvements in your mood after PBMT—you will probably sleep better too!
In addition to immediate relief from pain and inflammation, PBMT provides longer-term benefits. Undergoing red light therapy just before a workout can help delay muscle fatigue during exercise, for example. It can also improve skin elasticity and enhance athletic performance.
Red light therapy is like other treatments in that it is dose-dependent; in other words, the more you undergo PBMT, the more benefit the treatment provides. Your treatment provider will help you create a treatment plan personalized according to your needs. Typical treatment plans look something like this:
- Three sessions per week for two weeks
- Two sessions each week until you achieve your goals
- One session weekly to maintain your results
The length of each treatment session will vary depending on your goals, but each treatment usually takes between three and twenty minutes; most people are in and out of the office in under a half hour. Treatment protocols, such as the wavelength and the use of pulse or continuous, will also vary based on your goals.
Red light therapy is unlike many other approaches in that treatments are painless. Physical therapy often involves painful exercises and cortisol injections are downright painful, whereas photobiomodulation is comfortable and provides instant relief.
The amount of time it takes for red light therapy to work depends largely on the condition it is intended to treat, the type of photobiomodulation device, the individual settings, and the number of sessions you undergo. To learn more about the benefits of red light therapy, speak to a photobiomodulation professional.