Red light therapy can help your body recover faster while reducing pain, post-operative complications, and time spent during surgical wound healing.
Read on to learn more about how you can seek treatment affordably and from home.
The BIOMAX Series is the most advanced consumer red light therapy treatment on the market, including R+ and NIR+ wavelengths, as well as 480nm blue lights for more heuristic treatment, all of which are fully adjustable.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is a treatment that uses red and/or near-infrared light to stimulate the body’s mitochondria, resulting in a variety of benefits. Included in these is the stimulation of the wound-healing process. This works primarily by improving cellular energy production to stimulate cell repair and growth.
If you're in a rush, skip to the next section to learn about how red light therapy can help with post-operative care.
Red light therapy is often confused with light-emitting diode therapy. While both deliver red and near-infrared light to the body, the difference lies in the delivery method. Laser therapy is given in a clinical setting, while light therapy is often administered at home.
Red light therapy can be used to prepare your body for surgery and after surgery to reduce pain and speed up the wound healing process.
How Red Light Therapy Helps with Post-Operative Care
Post-operative care actually starts before the operation.
The healthier the body tissue before surgery, the faster the healing. Red light therapy can help prepare your body for surgery by supporting your cells’ mitochondria to produce more adenosine triphosphate, which is what the body’s cells use for fuel. Energized cells are better equipped to withstand surgery.
Pre-operative red light therapy can also reduce chronic inflammation, which interferes with healing. It boosts collagen production so your body is in the best position to perform post-operative tissue repair and skin regeneration.
After the surgery, red light therapy can be used to reduce scarring and pain. It supports nerve regeneration and can help reduce edema (swelling).
This natural therapy is especially helpful in cases of slow-healing wounds, which are common in diabetics.
Red Light Therapy for General Pain Management
One of the most notable effects of red light therapy is its use for managing pain.
Since pain is one of the major complaints following surgery, this effect alone makes red light therapy a worthwhile addition to post-operative care.
Across a wide range of studies from 2009 to 2017, red and near-infrared light applied to the surgical area has been shown to reduce pain.
Using red light therapy after surgery can also reduce reliance on pain-relief medication. This safe, non-invasive method is well-tolerated, with high patient satisfaction.
Red light therapy is a good option for anyone who wants to heal wounds quickly and minimize opioid use or that of other potentially addictive substances.
Here’s how red light therapy can help you heal from specific surgeries. You may notice that many studies use low-level laser therapy or low-power laser therapy. The difference between these two is in the delivery of light.
At home, you can use light therapy devices that utilize light-emitting diodes to safely deliver red and near-infrared wavelengths to the body, while enjoying the many other potential benefits to health that red light therapy offers.
Red Light Therapy for Knee Surgery Recovery
A number of scientific studies have contributed to findings on the efficacy of red light therapy for those undergoing knee surgery.
In one case, 15 patients who were treated with low-level laser therapy following total knee arthroplasty (knee replacement) had greater range of motion and less pain. This was also based on their less frequent need for painkillers in the first month of recovery.
In a similar study, researchers used low-level laser treatment on patients with osteoarthritis who had undergone knee surgery (a total knee arthroplasty). This successfully reduced pain and reduced morphine use within the first 72 hours of the surgery.
Red Light Therapy for Liposuction Recovery
Red light-assisted liposuction involves the use of red light during the procedure. It is less harmful to the tissue.
Red light creates temporary pores in fat cells, causing fat to leak out, without harming the cells.
After surgery, red light therapy can reduce inflammation, support a faster recovery time, and result in fewer post-operative complications.
Red Light Therapy for Bone Repair
Since white blood cells and stem cells are produced in bone marrow, supporting bone health can indirectly help the body's natural healing process in general as well.
Red Light Therapy for Dermatology Treatment Recovery
Laser skin resurfacing treatments sometimes result in erythema and edema. In layman’s terms, this means redness and swelling.
In one study, 20 patients received low-level light therapy treatments. This was to randomly selected sides of their faces immediately after laser skin resurfacing.
As a result, the areas that were treated showed significantly less redness for the first 48 hours after treatment.
Red Light Therapy for Scar Reduction
Keloid scars are caused by an excess of collagen that forms during the wound-healing process.
These raised scars extend beyond the boundary of the original wound. Hypertrophic scars are similar to keloids except that they are contained within the boundary of the wound. Both keloid and hypertrophic scars can be treated with red light therapy to soften the scar tissue and allow for the growth of healthy new skin.
Aside from scars, red light therapy is also useful for reducing stretch marks. It treats these conditions by penetrating wavelengths underneath the skin.
Red Light Therapy for Treating Nerve Health Conditions
During surgery, nerves can be severed or irreparably damaged. However, red light therapy can help with nerve regeneration.
This was reaffirmed in a study on patients who underwent a nerve surgery called the Oberlin Procedure, involving the relocation of a healthy nerve to reestablish sensory or motor pathways in injured areas.
Three months after the surgery, the red light treatment group showed signs of restored nerve function, along with greater muscle power than the patient group that did not use RLT.
In another study, doctors conducted neurotube surgery. As a result of red light therapy treatment, patients experienced improved sciatic nerve function.
In a third study, after complete nerve transection, 21 consecutive days of post-operative treatment resulted in faster nerve regeneration.
Neuropathic pain is a common occurrence after surgeries. Red light therapy reduces neuropathic pain. Its anti-inflammatory properties help ease the postoperative pain of spinal injury. RLT also has some applications for brain health.
Red Light Therapy for Treating Brain Health
Some elderly patients develop a condition called post-operative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) after anesthesia and surgery.
While the condition is considered reversible, it diminishes the patient’s quality of life.
In some patients, POCD may progress into Alzheimer’s Disease.
Red light therapy reduces brain inflammation and has a neuroprotective effect.
Some researchers recommend using red light therapy before surgery as well as after surgery to prevent and minimize POCD.
Red light therapy is used before and after laser breast cancer surgery to decrease post-operative complications including lymphorrhea, where lymph fluid either drains abnormally or stays trapped within the surgical site.
Researchers continue to look into the benefits of red light therapy for tumor treatment, and studies show promise.
Red Light Therapy for Cesarean Section Recovery
Post-operative pain after a Cesarean Section can delay recovery.
In one study, C-section surgical incisions were treated with red light therapy immediately after the procedure. The treatment group experienced significantly less pain, and reduced painkiller use.
A similar study showed lower pain scores after two red light treatments 12 and 24 hours after C-section surgeries.
Coronary bypass surgery comes with the risk of post-operative heart attacks.
Three consecutive days of red light therapy after surgery significantly reduced cardiac cellular damage and accelerated post-operative repair of cardiac tissue in 32 patients with either two or three coronary vessel blockages.
In a similar study, 82 patients received near-infrared light treatment and showed significantly lower post-surgery complications and less pain than the control group.
Post-operative treatment with near-infrared light can improve wound healing following gastrointestinal surgery.
Perianal abscess surgery often comes with complications such as infection. Antibiotic use may not be effective due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, red light therapy could help.
In one case, researchers used the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of red light to treat perianal abscesses. While this study used a combination of photodynamic therapy (PDT) along with light-only red light therapy, there was no sign of infection or inflammation within 5 days of the surgery.
Preoperative light therapy has also been used to improve wound healing in post-operative settings. In one case, patients undergoing gastrointestinal surgery received red light therapy for 20 minutes while preparing for surgery. The results after surgery were that the treatment group reported lower post-operative pain.
A procedure to correct velopharyngeal insufficiency sometimes comes with post-operative complications including bleeding and airway obstruction due to swelling. Velopharyngeal insufficiency is when air or sounds leak into the nose during speech.
Red light helps to reduce swelling, clearing airway obstructions 2-3 days after surgery and reducing the need for steroids after this surgery is conducted.
Red light therapy enhances the healing of both soft and hard tissue after endodontic surgery. This is surgery to repair a cracked tooth. When performed immediately after surgery and daily for seven days, red light therapy resulted in less swelling, less bleeding, faster wound healing, and less pain.
Red light therapy can reduce post-op pain, too. In one case, 12 patients who had a free gingival graft procedure were treated with red light therapy just before surgery. Post-surgery, patients experienced significantly less pain than the control group.
In another similar study, light therapy patients experienced greater shrinkage of the graft dimensions, faster healing, and less pain than the control group.
Red light therapy can also speed up healing after laser ablation of the gums.
Numerous studies confirm that red light therapy speeds up post-operative wound care.
One study on sutured skin wounds in the feet showed that the functional recovery of patients was significantly accelerated as a result of using red light therapy.
How to Use RLT for Post-Operative Care
Red and near-infrared light therapy can prepare the body for surgery and accelerate post-operative healing. RLT is non-invasive and has virtually no side effects, especially when used within guidelines for no more than 20 minutes per day.
We nonetheless recommend consulting with a doctor about treatment, particularly when patients are considering using red light therapy in lieu of another medical treatment.
It often helps to start red light therapy as soon as possible after surgery to help ease pain and discomfort, reduce post-operative complications, support the body’s natural healing processes, and minimize scarring.
Adding red light therapy to any post-operative physical therapy protocol can also help restore nerve and muscle function.
Daily 3-20 minute red light treatment sessions directly to the skin of an unbandaged surgical site will help the body heal after surgery. Full-body RLT treatment can also help with recovery, while simultaneously treating a variety of other ailments.
There are a few exceptions to using red light therapy post-operatively. RLT is not a suitable treatment for wounds that are still bleeding. This is because red light therapy actually increases circulation and blood flow.
We also don’t recommend red light therapy use for those who are taking photosensitizing medications. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about using red light therapy treatment for post-operative care.
“Development of individualized protocols has become possible with the ability to control parameters and customize the percentages of R+ and NIR wavelengths using PlatinumLEDs Biomax photobiomodulation panels. My patients experience dramatic reductions in pain and have undeniably faster healing timelines allowing for post-surgical rehabilitation to be a much easier experience”
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
BIOMAX and SaunaMAX Pro Solutions
Red light therapy involves the use of a powerful medical-grade device. RLT panels are an affordable, easy-to-use, and effective post-operative rehabilitation treatment you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
We recommend two approaches:
- A BIOMAX Series red light therapy device. BIOMAX red light therapy devices come in four sizes. They are for everyday use, to prepare your body for surgery, speed up recovery, as well as everyday health maintenance.
- The SaunaMAX Pro red light device. You can use this in a traditional sauna to reap the benefits of red light including enhanced tissue repair, improved blood circulation, and reduced inflammation.
The BIOMAX Series panels also offer adjustable intensity and wavelength exposure, so users can choose between R+, NIR+, and 480nm blue light therapy treatment or a combination of these wavelengths with ease at any time.