Red light therapy beds are growing in popularity for skin rejuvenation, acne, and even muscle recovery.
You can get full-body treatment with a red light therapy bed.
But, are red light therapy beds always the best form of RLT treatment, both for various conditions and for health and wellness?
In the following sections, we address this issue.
Read on to learn more about red light therapy beds and other red light therapy treatments.
How Red Light Therapy Beds Work
Red light therapy beds use light-emitting diode bulbs that emit therapeutic red and near-infrared wavelengths to treat various physical conditions.
LED beds are non-invasive and have no side effects when used as directed.
One of the important factors in understanding RLT beds is to know more about the specific wavelengths that they use.
Depending on your treatment objectives, this can mean the difference between results and ineffective treatment.
Red light therapy produces a biochemical effect in cells that stimulates the mitochondria, which are the cell’s energy centers, causing them to produce more energy. With more energy, cells can function more efficiently, repair themselves, and replicate successfully. This leads to an increase in collagen production and microcirculation, among other benefits.
Red light therapy refers to both red and/or NIR wavelengths of light and is also known as photobiomodulation.
Red/NIR light treatment reduces inflammation. This is the “spark” that activates a host of beneficial effects in the body.
Read on to learn more about how this natural non-invasive treatment.
Here’s why it matters:
The Benefits of Red Light
Red light between 630 and 660 nanometers (nm) is often used to accelerate skin wound healing and to treat signs of aging skin such as fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. It also treats a variety of skin disorders, including acne.
The Benefits of Near Infrared Light
Near-infrared waves between 810 and 850 nm are used to address conditions deeper in the body including joint pain, neuropathy, and muscle recovery after exercise.
Most notably, NIR is used to reduce inflammation deeper in the body which could be causing poor collagen production as well as a variety of skin diseases.
If you use an LED bed for skin rejuvenation, you could get therapeutic results with red light alone. However, since inflammation is the main cause of skin disorders ranging from accelerated signs of aging (fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, and crepey skin) to rosacea, red and NIR light could prove a better therapeutic combination.
The boosted collagen production caused by Red light treatment invigorates the skin with increased blood circulation, while NIR waves address underlying inflammation, supporting the body’s healing process.
When using LED bed treatment for muscle recovery or for widespread healing, patients often supplement this with near-infrared treatment for deeper absorption.
The Advantages of Using Red Light Therapy Beds
Today’s market is flooded with red light therapy devices ranging from tiny wands to masks, wraps, panels, and therapy beds. All claim to increase health and wellness, reduce signs of aging, and boost skin health. What, if any, are the advantages of using the “bed method” of red light therapy?
Are RLT Beds Comfortable?
LED beds are a comfortable and convenient way to treat both localized and widespread conditions.
You can relax in a fully prone position as you would in a tanning bed, which can be very soothing if you are experiencing pain.
The Versatility of Red Light Therapy Beds
LED beds can be used to support muscle recovery after exercise and to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, any chronic skin disorder, arthritis joint pain, low back pain, tennis elbow, neuropathic foot pain, weight loss, reduce the appearance of scars, and much more.
Meanwhile, LED beds are far less versatile when it comes to treatment options. They’re obviously quite large and are usually only available in a clinical setting, which also means that treatment is generally expensive and requires a special trip.
The Disadvantages of Using Red Light Therapy Beds
LED light therapy beds are effective, but they come with a few challenges, aside from their lack of accessibility.
The Safety of RLT Beds
LED light therapy beds are considered safe and free of side effects if you wear light-blocking goggles to prevent eye strain. But, beware of beds that use incandescent lights because of the risk of burns. Always consult a medical professional before using an LED bed.
LED light therapy beds are not suitable for everyone.
Avoid using an LED bed if you are pregnant or if you have:
- epilepsy or other seizure disorders
- low blood pressure
- if you are taking medications that could cause photosensitivity
While photodynamic therapy (a combination of specific red light along with a photosensitizing drug) has been shown effective against some types of cancer, it’s never a DIY treatment.
Photodynamic therapy is always performed by a medical professional.
The Weak Light Power Output of RLT Beds
The more intense the light, the more pronounced the effects, no matter which type of low-level light therapy (LLLT) device you're using.
Light output, or irradiance, is measured in mW/cm2. Many red light therapy beds deliver around 100 mW/cm2 which is not bad, but the BIOMAX 900 delivers much more power. The BIOMAX 900 is measured at 185 mW/cm2, which is nearly double the irradiance of a typical LED bed. This panel is also suitable for full-body applications.
The Size of Red Light Therapy Beds
A red light therapy bed takes up a substantial amount of space — about the same as a tanning bed. Unless you have a very large home, you will need to commute to a spa, gym, or tanning salon to use the beds. This adds significantly to the cost of photobiomodulation using an LED bed.
Recurring Costs of Using RLT Beds
And speaking of cost, we have seen ads for red light therapy bed sessions that cost $250 for a 40-minute session. Not only is this expensive. It’s an odd choice of time allotments, given that red light therapy has diminishing returns after about 20 minutes of treatment. Some companies offer unlimited monthly treatment packages for LED bed sessions, but these go for around $3,000 per month, almost three times the cost of our most powerful and advanced home RLT panel.
The Bulb Technology in RLT Beds
Rather than spending money on FDA-approved red light therapy beds, some salons will simply use tanning beds, replacing the UV bulbs with red light emitting diode bulbs. Proceed with caution and make sure the bed you're considering, whether for home use or at a spa, actually uses LED bulbs and that the device is FDA approved.
LEDs are safe. LEDs do not generate significant heat, which makes them safe for up-close use with no danger of burns. However, some LED beds use incandescent bulbs, which become hot and could cause burns.
Only LEDs can be calibrated to precise red/NIR wavelengths proven to improve health. Incandescent bulbs cannot! They are simply coated with a generic red coating, which is NOT the same. It’s still full-spectrum light, including UV, filtered through a red coating. Some companies even use coated fluorescent bulbs to the same effect, while having no therapeutic value.
The Problem with RLT Bed Marketing
While there are some reputable LED bed manufacturers, others are known to routinely use unethical marketing tactics.
Here are a few things to look out for:
Is Pulsed Light Legit?
Some LED therapy beds feature ‘pulsed light.’ This is absolutely unnecessary and, in fact, it reduces therapy time by decreasing the number of light photons that can reach your cells.
Pulsed light is only useful in the case of certain types of lasers which need the ‘off-time’ to prevent heating tissue to the point of damaging it.
LEDs do not generate tissue-damaging heat, and ‘therefore pulsed’ light in red light therapy beds is unfortunately a marketing gimmick.
A Matter of Questionable Science
Some companies advertise the number of LEDs used in their LED beds, and then go on to say that their devices emit certain wavelengths of 'cold laser' light.
However, LED and laser technology are vastly different. Laser therapy uses ‘cold’ or low-level lasers (this is called low-level light therapy or low-level laser therapy).
Both ’cold lasers’ and LED devices are considered low-level light therapy, but the technology and delivery methods are different.
Irrespective of the particular claims, it will help both in terms of safety and value for the money to ensure that you’re being asked to use an FDA-approved device before proceeding with treatment.
Red Light Therapy Panels: A Home Alternative
Given the drawbacks found with LED beds as well as what goes along with the treatment, we recommend another solution, which is also more effective.
LED panels, specifically the BIOMAX series from PlatinumLED Therapy Lights, are the optimal choice for at-home treatment.
These smaller panels give you far more options than LED beds.
Red Light Therapy Panels with More Power
Medical grade panels deliver exceptionally powerful light energy output that is used by dermatologists, neurologists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals.
The power of PlatinumLEDs lights that offer five therapeutic wavelengths emit a higher amount of irradiance than any other LED light therapy device on the market. Used correctly and consistently, my patients are able to address a wide range of conditions with quicker healing timelines, without adverse side effects, and in the comfort of their own home.
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical TherapyDr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
Convenient Size for an RLT Panel
Panels are smaller than a light therapy bed. You can easily slide a panel under a bed or put it in a closet when not in use. The smallest panel in the lineup, the BIOMAX 300, is perfect for facial rejuvenation, targeted conditions like hair regrowth and carpal tunnel syndrome, and best of all, it’s small enough for travel.
With the BIOMAX series panels, you can choose your configuration. Use a single panel alone to target specific body parts.
Smaller RLT panels are great for those who travel frequently, whereas the larger RLT panels are better for full-body treatment, which also comes highly recommended.
RLT Panel Stands
Or, you can opt for vertical panels, if you want to do yoga or upright stretches while receiving treatment.
A Combination of the Most Beneficial Wavelengths
Hundreds of studies confirm the use of red/NIR light as an essential part of supporting the body's healing process. So which should you choose, red or NIR?
With the BIOMAX series panels, you enjoy a ‘no brainer’ combination of five red and NIR wavelengths.
You never have to worry about which wavelength to choose no matter what you’re treating.
Wavelenths are delivered in a patent-pending ratio that ensures the most comprehensive absorption.
No Recurring Costs
With at-home red light therapy panels, there is no commute, no hassle, and no recurring costs.
The Benefit of Frequent Treatments
Light therapy is most effective when done frequently in small doses. A short 3-20 minute session 3-5 times a week is ideal for most conditions.
Getting red light treatments once a week or less frequently will not give you the same results.
Check out the BIOMAX series panels for more information!