Debunking The Myths About Red Light Therapy

Debunking The Myths About Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy’s rapid growth in popularity has led to a number of misconceptions about the science and technology behind it. 

In the following sections, we explore some of the most common myths about red light therapy.


Myth: Red Light Therapy is Bogus 

Misconceptions about the product science behind this treatment have led to skepticism about whether red light therapy actually works. 

Quality RLT panels are no comparison to an ordinary lightbulb with a red filter. Typical storebought red lightbulbs do not emit therapeutic R+ and NIR+ wavelengths. 

Red light therapy panels, on the other hand, emit red and near-infrared light that is absorbed into the tissues to stimulate the mitochondria in human cells to produce more energy. This makes cells work more efficiently and has a beneficial ripple effect throughout the body. One of the main effects of increased energy production is decreased healing time.

Another major benefit of red light therapy is that it decreases inflammation. Inflammation is the primary cause of major diseases and chronic skin disorders, including acne and psoriasis.

Red light stimulates the fibroblasts that produce collagen and elastin. It stimulates the cells in the bones and the epithelial cells in the lining of the blood vessels. It also stimulates skin cells, muscle cells, and hair cells.


Myth: All Red Light Therapy Devices Are The Same 

Not all red light therapy devices are the same. 

Here are some warning signs of a device with less therapeutic benefit. 

  • Low intensity, power output
  • Fewer therapeutic wavelengths or multiple wavelengths outside the window of therapeutic benefit
  • Yellow, green, or purple light, which has far less therapeutic value 
  • Smaller, targeted devices, provide suboptimal treatment to panels. 
  • Pulsating light is a design flaw and has no beneficial purpose. 

Premium red light therapy panels are versatile and powerful and should deliver a range of therapeutic wavelengths to support both targeted and whole-body conditions.


Myth: Specialized Devices are Useful for Treating Specific Body Parts 

Small, specialized devices including masks and wands can only be applied to specific body parts. 

It may sound counterintuitive, but treatment for specific areas works best with full body exposure that stimulates more mitochondria across the board for healing. This requires a red light therapy panel. 

RLT masks can be useful for frequent travelers. However, anyone who regularly uses a red light therapy device at home would be much better off with a panel. 


Myth: NIR Light Causes Unwanted Facial Fat Loss 

Not only is this false, but clinical studies point to significant skin-enhancing benefits of NIR light. 

These include reduced fine lines and wrinkles, reduced age spots, and improved skin firmness and skin texture.  

Although red light therapy has been shown to help with weight loss, studies on RLT have not reported a loss of facial fat. Some researchers suggest that NIR therapy can help repair damaged fat cells or help patients lose weight, but these findings do not implicate facial fat loss as an issue. 

Obviously, extensive sun exposure does cause harm to the skin, but red light therapy LEDs do not emit radiation. In this respect, they are completely different to sun tanning booths, which may actually have serious health implications due to radiation exposure.  


Myth: Red Light Therapy is Only Effective for Treating Skin Conditions

Red light therapy includes NIR wavelengths, which go beyond the surface of the skin, resulting in numerous health benefits beyond the surface of the skin. 

NIR light penetrates into the deep tissues in the body including joints, muscles, and organs.

The potential benefits include the following:  

  • Treating hair loss
  • Bolstering the immune system  
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Faster wound healing
  • Faster recovery from exercise 
  • Treating neuropathy or nerve damage
  • Relieving osteoarthritis joint pain and/or lower back pain
  • And numerous other benefits that result from stimulating and energizing the mitochondria. 


Myth: NIR Light Causes Hyperpigmentation

NIR light is a treatment for melasma, which is hyperpigmentation due to sun exposure. 

It lightens dark areas and evens out skin tone. It also ‘preconditions’ the skin to help reduce future UV damage.

Red light therapy is also commonly used to treat vitiligo (the opposite of melasma), where it stimulates repigmentation and evens out skin tone.


Myth: Red Light Therapy Can Burn The Skin

Red light therapy devices do emit some heat, but to say that they can burn the skin would be a vast overstatement. The heat experienced by most users of RLT panels is mild at most, at least by typical consumer devices under treatment guidelines of five to twenty minutes at most per day.  

The amount of heat absorbed by a red light therapy device depends on the melanin levels of the user. Users with darker skin absorb more heat, whereas those with lighter skin reflect more heat. Although the heat is typically not intense, users can reduce the level of heat exposure by putting the red light therapy device a bit further away during treatment.  

Red light therapy doesn’t cause cellular damage. This is because it does not emit ultraviolet light, which is what causes sunburns and suntans. In fact, regular red light therapy may protect users from sunburn by stimulating melanin in the skin. 


Myth: Red Light Therapy Is Only For Humans

Red light therapy can be used on a horse, cat, dog, or any other mammal. 

Research shows that it more or less has all the same health benefits on animals as it does on humans due to the biological systems that we have in common with them, although there may be some degree of variation.   


Myth: Red Light Therapy Is The Same As Tanning Beds

Red light therapy does not have the same effect as ultraviolet light, which causes major skin cell damage as visible through sunburns.

Some manufacturers sell full-body red light therapy devices that look like tanning booths. As long as they only emit red and NIR light, they do not have the same health risks as tanning beds.

Although this is a separate industry entirely, users are strongly advised by researchers to avoid tanning beds, as even limited use can cause a serious statistical increase in the likelihood of getting cancer. 


Myth: Red Light Therapy Works Instantly 

Red light therapy works at the cellular level. You may feel some fast relief from pain, but in general users may require some time for their body to heal. 

Skin cells turn over once a month but not all at the same time. If you’re using red light therapy to clear up acne, the light will immediately kill acne-causing bacteria and quickly reduce inflammation, but the body will need time to rebuild healthy skin.

Most users will see improvement in their skin within 4-8 weeks. Since red light therapy is safe for long-term use, users can continue to build on these benefits to “turn back the clock” on aging skin and to control inflammatory skin conditions.


Myth: RLT Devices That Advertise Shorter Treatment Times Are Better

There is no consensus among researchers as to the ideal red light therapy treatment time, but there is nonetheless a reasonable window for therapeutic success. ‘More’ is not necessarily better, because treatment sessions that last for over 20 minutes will have diminishing returns. 

Light absorbs into the light-sensitive chromophores in your cells very quickly, but beneficial changes require a certain amount of time where the cells are absorbing light consistently.

Red light therapy needs time to stimulate energy production and other processes in the cells.

Scientific studies vary in the treatment times. One study on facial aging used 12-minute treatments twice a week for three months. 

Another study on facial aging used 10-minute treatments daily, with the first noticeable effects occurring at three days. 

Another study on the use of red light therapy for knee osteoarthritis used 15 minute treatments twice daily for 10 days. A study on spinal cord injury used a single 30 minute treatment.

This suggests that 10+ minute treatments could be a solid benchmark for treatment times.


Myth: At-Home RLT Devices Are Not As Good As Professional Ones 

Consumers may assume that the best red light therapy devices are being used in clinics. In fact, many clinics are now in the practice of using the BIOMAX Series for treating their patients, so in some cases, this may be true.  

Clinics often have bigger, multipanel setups intended for more intense sessions. 

In some cases, the panels being used at clinics are likely to offer fewer therapeutic wavelengths than those developed by PlatinumLED. It may be worthwhile to inquire about which wavelengths are actually being provided. Few red light therapy devices emit more therapeutic wavelengths than the BIOMAX Series. 

The red light therapy beds that one may assume to find in a clinical setting are not actually optimal for treatment, because they require that users basically lie on top of the diodes, which prevents them from blending. 

Standing, sitting or lying at a short distance from the panels is an important part of treatment, because it lets the wavelengths blend together as they come into contact with the skin, which results in therapeutic synergy.  


Myth: RLT Users Need To Stare Into The Light Bulb For Hours

There is no reason for users to be staring directly at the light diodes during red light therapy treatment. 

There is no danger to looking at them for a short duration, but looking directly at the light diodes just isn’t a part of the treatment. Users are encouraged to meditate, read or to simply relax during their treatment session. The point of treatment is to get exposure to the skin, not directly to the eyes. 

A set of goggles is included with each BIOMAX Series panel for eye protection.


Myth: Blue Light Therapy Causes Sleeplessness

Blue light that is emitted by consumer electronics devices like laptops and phones are known to disrupt the circadian rhythm. However, this has a significantly different effect than being exposed to traces of blue wavelength at 480 nm for five to twenty minutes per day that the user is not even looking at directly. 

The blue wavelengths used in LED electronics peak at around 435 nm to 440 nm. Meanwhile, the blue light emitted by LED light therapy devices should be at 480 nm. This may seem like a small difference, but it has a very significant impact on how the human body responds. 

Blue light from consumer devices only affects the brain when it enters the eyes. BIOMAX red light therapy devices feature trace amounts of blue light, but users may wear eye blocking goggles during the treatment. 

The bottom line on this myth is that it stems from confusion between the sleeplessness caused by drastic overuse of consumer devices and blue light therapy treatment, which does not lead to sleeplessness. 


Myth: Blue Light Therapy Can Age The Skin 

480nm blue light is useful for killing acne-causing bacteria on the surface of the skin but it won’t come close to reaching the fibroblasts that generate skin cells. 

In fact, this wavelength has also been shown to increase production of ATP in lab-cultured skin cells.  

Using blue light therapy along with red light therapy provides treatment for the surface of the skin, while stimulating the mitochondria, which has quite the opposite of an aging effect.


BIOMAX Series for Optimal RLT Treatment

We hope this article has put to rest the common myths about red light therapy. 

Check out the BIOMAX Series to learn more about the most effective red light therapy panels on the market. 

Discover the many ways to improve your health using red light therapy in the Learning Center.



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