How Often Should You Use a Red Light Therapy Bed?
A growing number of people are undergoing red light therapy to relieve chronic skin conditions, ease muscle aches and joint pain, or even to reduce the visible signs of aging. But how often should you use a red light therapy bed?
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation (PBMT), uses the power of light to stimulate energy production and healing within cells. Unlike many one-size-fits-all approaches to therapy, red light therapy is a highly customizable and personalized treatment. Red light therapy is a dose-dependent treatment, which means that your body’s response improves with every session. A consistent treatment schedule provides the best results.
How Often to Use RLT
Many patients wonder how often they should use a red light therapy bed. The answer is – it depends. Some people require frequent sessions, while others can get by with a treatment now and then. Most get good results with a 15-minute session, 3-5 times each week for several months. The frequency at which you use a red light therapy bed also depends on the severity of the condition you want to treat, your age and overall health, as well as your sensitivity to light.
Because everyone is different, it is wiser to start slow and work your way up to frequent sessions. You may want to start with a 10-minute session every other day for the first week. If you experience temporary redness or tightness, decrease your therapy time. If you do not experience redness or tightness, you can extend your daily therapy time to a total of 15 to 20 minutes.
Healing occurs at the cellular level, and cells require time to heal and regenerate. Red light therapy starts to work immediately, and the results only get better with each session. Improvement for long-term problems is usually noticeable after 8 to 12 weeks of consistent use.
Maintaining RLT Results
As with other treatments, the results of red light therapy are long-lasting, but they are not always permanent. This is especially true for skin conditions, as new skin cells replace old treated skin cells rather quickly. Using red light therapy and other treatments for a long time provides better results, but patients are sometimes reluctant to comply with long-term treatment plans.
Healthcare providers can often help clients stick to a treatment plan by combining red light therapy with other treatments. Getting two or more treatments in each visit helps clients save valuable time and enjoy better results. Clients are also encouraged by the fact that red light therapy is safe – because it does not harm the skin or the underlying tissue, there is virtually no risk of overdoing it. What’s more, the drug-free treatment rarely has any side effects.
Using Red Light Therapy for Specific Conditions
General skin care and anti-aging therapy
If you are using red light therapy to improve your skin tone, minimize the visible signs of aging, and heal sun damage, you can expect to undergo red light therapy in 10- to 20-minute sessions, 3 to 5 times each week for one to four months.
Red light therapy increases the production and density of collagen, which is a protein that serves as a main building block for skin, hair, muscles, and connective tissue. Collagen also provides the elasticity that keeps skin from sagging. Improving the production and density of collagen with red light therapy eliminates fine lines and wrinkles, and clears up other skin issues.
Early red light therapy improves the tone and overall health of skin; maintenance therapy using shorter and less frequent red light therapy sessions ensures long-lasting results.
Exercise can cause sore muscles, especially if you are not used to working out. Lifting something heavy or performing high-intensity activities can cause microscopic tears in your muscles. When your muscles repair themselves, they get larger and stronger. In some cases, though, serious muscle injury can occur after excessively strenuous exercise.
Using red light therapy immediately before exercise can precondition your muscles and prevent significant injury. You can also bathe your muscles in red light for 10 to 20 minutes after exercising to accelerate recovery. Using a maintenance program of light therapy before and after routine exercise can optimize the effects of your workout.
Using a combination of red light and near-infrared light for 10 to 20 minutes, three to five times a week, can stimulate your hair follicles to reduce hair loss. After one to four months, you can reduce the number of sessions to one to four times weekly to maintain hair growth over time.
Arthritis and joint pain
A 15-minute red light therapy session twice a day can help alleviate joint pain and arthritis. Depending on the level of your pain, you may continue with twice daily sessions to treat severe chronic pain or undergo shorter, less frequent sessions for minor pain.
Chronic skin disorders
Red light therapy can treat rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, acne, and other chronic skin conditions. The treatment can also reduce the appearance of skin wounds, stretch marks, and mild scars. Sessions should last 10 to 20 minutes, occur three to five times a week, and continue for one to four months. Maintenance programs can help keep chronic skin conditions and deeper scars under control.
For more information about how often you should use a red light therapy bed, consult with your healthcare professional, trainer, therapist, or red light therapy provider.
This article was originally published September 14, 2021, and was last updated January 12, 2023.