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Exploring LED light therapy and if there are benefits

Dr Michela Sorensen

LED light therapy may improve a variety of skin conditions

A woman having red light LED therapy
A woman having red light LED therapy

You probably know someone who has had LED light therapy to treat a skin concern or condition. If you’ve been wondering whether this cosmetic procedure is right for you (and whether it actually works!), look no further. At nib, we consider ourselves your health partner – answering some of the biggest questions you might have, which is why we’ve put together a complete guide to LED light therapy.

What is LED light therapy?

Light-emitting diode (LED) light therapy was originally developed by NASA in the 1990s for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions and was later found to help heal astronauts’ wounds. LED light therapy is now commonly used by dermatologists and skincare specialists to treat a range of skin concerns and issues.

What is LED light therapy used for?

“LED light therapy is used to treat a variety of skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, superficial sun damage and a variety of cosmetic concerns including pigmentation, wrinkles and fine lines,” says GP Dr Michela Sorensen. In some cases, LED light therapy may be used to treat certain types of skin cancer including superficial basal cell carcinomas (BCCs).

The types of LED light therapy

There are two main types of LED light therapy

  • Red LED light therapy: This is primarily used to reduce inflammation in the skin and minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production

  • Blue LED light therapy: Blue light is used to treat acne by reducing the amount of oil produced by oil glands and destroying acne-causing bacteria

Blue and red LED lights may be combined to treat some skin conditions including acne and rosacea. There are also other LED light colours that are less commonly used to treat skin problems, including yellow. 

What to expect from LED light therapy

LED light therapy is non-invasive, painless, suitable for all skin types and carries no downtime.  

Each LED light therapy session lasts up to 30 minutes. After each treatment, you’ll need to apply sunscreen and avoid the sun for a few days. 

But LED light therapy isn’t suitable for everyone, cautions Michela. “Anyone who takes medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight needs to avoid LED light therapy. Additionally, people with certain eye conditions need to use caution.” 

Always consult an expert before having any form of LED treatment. 

What isn’t treated with LED light therapy? 

While LED light therapy can help treat acne, it won’t remove acne cysts, blackheads or whiteheads. 

Does LED light therapy actually work? 

There is certainly increasing evidence backing the benefits of LED light therapy to treat skin conditions.

How long does it take to work?   

You may need at least four initial treatments performed once or twice per week to see a significant improvement in your skin. After that, you’ll likely need regular follow-up treatments to maintain the results. 

Please note: The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner. 

Dr Michela Sorensen

Dr Michela Sorensen

Dr Michela Sorensen is a GP who is passionate about women’s, mental and rural health. She believes access is the biggest barrier we have when it comes to our health, and is a strong advocate for change in this area. In her spare time, Michela enjoys baking... and eating most of the mixture before it actually makes it into the oven.