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How Long Does it Take for Red Light Therapy to Work?

If you are considering red light therapy, you might wonder how long it takes to work – you might also wonder how often you can do red light therapy. Fortunately, red light therapy with TheraLight may provide meaningful results faster than you might realize. What’s more, red light therapy is so safe and gentle that you can benefit from it more frequently than with other types of therapy.

While red light therapy provides fast results, it is important to remember that getting outstanding, long-lasting results takes time. After all, many conditions develop slowly over time, so effective treatment for these conditions takes time too. In fact, massage therapy, physical therapy, and many other treatment approaches require multiple sessions to achieve long-lasting results. The same is true with red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation (PBMT), 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.

How Long Does Red Light Therapy Take to Work?

Red light therapy is appropriate in the treatment of a variety of conditions because it works both quickly and over time. In other words, some patients see an improvement in their condition right after the first red light therapy session and continue to see improvements after sessions throughout the following weeks.

The type of condition being treated and the type of therapeutic action needed, such as reducing inflammation or rebuilding, plays a role in how long red light therapy takes to work.

Red light therapy reduces acute and chronic inflammation

Acute inflammation is an immune response that helps the body avoid infection and promotes healing. Chronic inflammation, which is inflammation that persists for months or years, can cause a number of health issues.

Red light therapy works immediately after the first treatment to reduce acute inflammation, and it eases chronic inflammation with every session.

Red light therapy boosts the production of collagen immediately and over time

Collagen is a major building block of muscles, skin, bones, tendons and ligaments. This abundant protein helps wounds heal quickly and prevents the formation of scar tissue, including acne scars. Collagen adds elasticity to the skin, so it also helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

Red light therapy stimulates the production of collagen right away to promote skin health. Repeat treatments over the course of a few weeks helps reduce the visible signs of scars and aging.

Red light therapy promotes healthy exercise

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 uses the power of light to activate changes in the body on a cellular level. In fact, “photobiomodulation” is a combination of three words:

  1. Photo – Light
  2. Bio – Life
  3. 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. Many of these changes occur the moment the light hits the cells.

Red light therapy devices work at the speed of light

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, for example, while PBMT beds create a whole-body treatment. Each device works in about the same amount of time.

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 Provides Immediate and Long-term Relief

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 immediate benefits, for example, and enhance athletic performance in the long run.

How often can I do red light therapy?

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, and shaped to provide fast and long-lasting benefits.

Typical red light therapy 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 red light therapy treatment session will vary depending on your goals, but each PBMT 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 red light therapy professional.

This blog was originally published on January 11, 2021, and was last updated on March 11, 2024.

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