Image Pop Up
Image of Justin Vorwaller, MBA

Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Cellulite

Nothing ruins the smooth, youthful appearance of skin more than cellulite. Those bumps and lumps can be embarrassing and challenging to eliminate, and all the diet and exercise in the world don’t seem to erase them.

Fortunately, red light therapy can help reduce the visible signs of cellulite. This innovative therapy is already known to effectively reduce the signs of jowls and provide long-lasting results for many health conditions and cosmetic issues.

Red light therapy can also promote skin health and enhance well-being, all while getting rid of the lumpy, bumpy cellulite sitting just below the surface of your skin.

Everything You Need To Know About Cellulite (But Didn’t Want To Ask)

The word “cellulite” comes from the French word cellula, which means “small cell.” Coined in 1968 by a dietician and popularized by fashion magazines, cellulite is not a medical term, but it can cause embarrassment and self-esteem issues that can have lasting effects. In fact, the National Institutes of Health calls it an “aesthetically distressing skin condition.”

What is cellulite?

Cellulite is dimpled and lumpy skin that can appear anywhere on the body, usually on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, and sometimes even on the arms. According to the Cleveland Clinic, as many as 80 to 90% of women have cellulite, while less than 10% of men have the skin problem.

What causes cellulite?

Researchers are still working to understand the exact cause of cellulite. Still, healthcare professionals know that the dimples, lumps, and bumps of cellulite are fat cells just beneath your skin's surface.

Connective tissue

Tough bands of tissue connect your skin to the muscle tissue lying just below. These bands of connective tissue feature fibrous cords that tether the skin to the underlying muscle, with a layer of fat in between. The cords can sometimes tighten irregularly; this uneven tightening pulls down on your skin and pushes up the normal layer of fat to create a puckered appearance.

Loss of collagen

Cellulite may develop when collagen levels drop. Collagen is a protein that provides structural support for connective tissue, among many other jobs. In other words, collagen helps keep the connective tissue springy and elastic and less likely to create cellulite.

Collagen production drops with age, leaving aging skin vulnerable to several connective tissue problems. The loss of collagen can lead to wrinkles and sagging skin, for example, and it also allows cellulite formation.

Poor circulation

Good circulation allows oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to reach the connective tissue cells. Without the oxygen and nutrients, the cells cannot function correctly.

Poor cellular function

Healthy body cells work better, of course, and this is true for connective tissue cells. The healthier the connective tissue, the better it holds onto the skin. Poor connective cell function means that they don’t hold skin well and can lead to the development of cellulite.

Does Red Light Therapy Help Cellulite?

If you have unattractive lumps and bumps, you may wonder, “Does red light therapy help cellulite?” You’ll be glad to know that it does! Whether you use full-body or targeted red light therapy, you can get smoother skin in weeks.

Red light therapy uses the power of light to stimulate meaningful and healthful changes in body cells. Also known as photobiomodulation (PBMT), red light therapy devices emit specific wavelengths of light. At these specific wavelengths, light penetrates the skin and enters the cells just below to provide benefits.

Once inside the cell, the light stimulates the mitochondria, also known as the “powerhouse of the cells.” The mitochondria perform many duties, according to Medical News Today, including:

  • Producing energy
  • Playing a role in the normal and timely death of old cells (apoptosis)
  • Storing calcium
  • Producing heat
  • Participating in other cellular functions

Stimulating the mitochondria helps the cell perform each of these jobs better. Improving cellular function improves the way the tissue and organs work. Red light therapy safely and effectively stimulates mitochondrial activity in treated cells

Red light therapy can also address cellulite by supporting collagen that helps keep connective tissue elastic, reducing fat, promoting healing, stimulating circulation, and improving cellular function.

The Science of Red Light Therapy for Smoother Skin

Researchers are currently investigating the effectiveness of red light therapy for smoother skin and reducing cellulite's visible appearance. To do this, they recruit participants with cellulite and provide treatment. Many studies use a cellulite score that allows them to describe how much cellulite is visible; a lower score equals smoother skin. The researchers also measured skin elasticity and even took before and after pictures.

In a 2011 study, researchers evaluated red light therapy combined with massage. They enrolled 64 women in the study; each participant had cellulite on their thighs. The participants received 20 sessions of (PBMT) treatment over four weeks. By the end of the study, red light therapy combined with massage reduced the circumference of the participants’ thighs by an average of 0.85 inches. It reduced the appearance of cellulite by 32%. The research shows that red light therapy combined with massage can effectively reduce the appearance of cellulite.

A 2013 study examined how well red light therapy would work alone, without massage or other treatments. Twenty women with cellulite on their buttocks participated in the study. Each underwent 16 red light therapy treatments over eight weeks. The results showed that PBMT reduced cellulite by 25% and improved skin elasticity by 29%.

Researchers in a 2017 study evaluated the effects of this noninvasive treatment on 30 women with abdominal cellulite. These women received 12 sessions of red light therapy over four weeks and enjoyed a cellulite reduction by an average of 1.4 points; the treatment improved skin texture by 41%. The researchers provided before and after pictures to demonstrate the visible improvement in the appearance of cellulite.

The following year, another team of researchers published the results of a study on how well red light therapy compares with radiofrequency treatment when it comes to reducing cellulite. They enrolled 20 women with cellulite on their thighs. Participants underwent eight PBMT treatments and radiofrequency treatments over four weeks. Cellulite scores decreased by an average of 0.8 points, and skin elasticity by 11%. Red light therapy was more effective than radiofrequency in reducing thigh circumference.

Still, another team of researchers investigated the effects of combining red light therapy with vibration exercise. In this study, researchers enrolled 40 female participants who had cellulite on their thighs and buttocks. The participants underwent 25 sessions of red light therapy treatments and vibration exercises over eight weeks. The study results showed that combination therapy helped reduce the participants’ cellulite grade by an average of 0.9 points and improved skin firmness by 18%.


Red light therapy is effective in the treatment of cellulite. For more information on red light therapy for smoother skin, consult a TheraLight professional. Red light therapy can safely and effectively address cellulite.

How Long Does it Take for Red Light Therapy to Work?
A Guide to LED Light Therapy Colors for Pain and Wellness