The same small colored lights used in everything from electronic devices to holiday decorations has also been incorporated into home and beauty treatments. In fact, health care practitioners have used the light-emitting diodes to aid in the wound healing process for more than four decades.
In 2000, NASA researcher Dr. Harry Whelan studied the healing potential of LED therapy at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Studies confirmed that LED lights healed severe burns, problem wounds, muscle and connective tissue sprains, nerve damage and eye injuries faster that conventional medical treatments.
Researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany explain the connection between skin and LED light therapy. During the aging process, the fluid surrounding elastin fibers changes. The fibers begin deteriorating, which causes skin to lose elasticity and hydration. As a result, creases and wrinkles start appearing. Studies performed by scientists at the educational institution involved the use of high-intensity light emitted from LEDs ranging between 600 and 720 nanometers of intensity. They found that the light therapy changed the fluid structure on a molecular level, which maintains elastin integrity while enhancing fiber activity. Skin exposed to the therapy daily for nine weeks was more resilient while appearing younger.
A separate study performed by researchers and published in a 2005 issue of the “Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy involved experimentation with the assistance of more than 30 volunteers who underwent eight sessions of infrared LED light therapy. Scientists used photoaging scoring to monitor the results. Following the course of treatments, more than half of the participants had visible improvements in their facial skin. More than 80 percent demonstrated a visible reduction in wrinkles. Though the technique does not work for all clients, the technology proved effective in its ability to heal blemishes and reduce wrinkles.
Mechanisms Involved in LED Light Therapy
Despite the fact that LEDs require less energy, the light-emitting devices produce more light in the long-term compared to lasers. LED light therapy uses a combination of infrared, blue, green and red light wavelengths to promote skin healing. The long waves of light created by the therapeutic devices penetrate skin at depths of up to 1.5 inches, which is sufficient to stimulate fibroblasts that are responsible for making collagen and elastin.
Though human cells do not have the ability to engage in photosynthesis, cells use light for many different biological reasons that include manufacturing of vitamin D. Encouraging the production of collagen and fibroblasts in particular enhances subcutaneous layer support that serves to smooth skin. Designated 30 to 50 minute colored LED light therapy sessions are also used to stimulate healing of surface problems that may include blemishes, broken capillaries and rosacea.