Red Light Therapy vs Near Infrared Light Therapy

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Light therapy, a practice dating back thousands of years, has been used to treat skin conditions, depression, and other ailments. Lack of sunlight exposure may contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), characterized by winter depression and low serotonin levels.

Light therapy, including near infrared therapy, offers numerous benefits, though each type has distinct characteristics and therapeutic effects.

Red Light vs. Near Infrared Light Therapy

Red Light Therapy vs Near Infrared Light Therapy

Red light therapy and near infrared (NIR) light therapy are often mistaken for each other, but they operate in different parts of the light spectrum.

Red light (630-700 nm) treats the skin’s surface, while NIR (700-1200 nm) penetrates deeper, delivering energy to cells for healing and pain relief. Different tissues absorb light at various wavelengths; for instance, blue light benefits the skin, while NIR stimulates healing at a cellular level.

LED technology is optimal for NIR therapy due to controlled surface temperature and wider dispersal, unlike halogen or laser options. LED’s gentle delivery, measured in milliwatts, reduces tissue damage and minimizes the risk of eye injury compared to higher-wattage halogen and laser options. Additionally, LED NIR covers a larger surface area, resulting in faster treatment times.

NASA research confirms that NIR energy penetrates deeply into the body, triggering cellular processes such as increased metabolism, protein synthesis, and antioxidant activity within mitochondria. This leads to reduced inflammation and pain, as well as cellular growth and regeneration.

5 Benefits of Near-Infrared Light Therapy

Near-infrared (NIR) light therapy, operating just outside the visible light spectrum, offers numerous advantages for the body, distinct from red light therapy. Here are five key benefits:

  1. Skincare Enhancement: NIR light stimulates cellular energy, promoting skin renewal and healing. It boosts collagen and elastin levels, addressing aging concerns like wrinkles and sagging, while enhancing skin elasticity, smoothness, and texture.

  2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: NIR therapy aids in reducing inflammation by energizing cells and widening blood vessels. This not only counters excessive inflammation but also supports tissue healing, combating oxidative stress-induced health issues.

  3. Accelerated Injury Recovery: NIR facilitates faster wound healing and minimizes scarring by promoting collagen production. It extends its healing effects beyond the skin, aiding in the recovery of acute injuries, muscle soreness, and joint pain.

  4. Full-Body Photobiomodulation: Utilizing NIR therapy in a full-body treatment enhances cellular function throughout the body. By exposing the entire body to healing light, it promotes positive life-changing processes on both superficial and deep levels.

  5. Tailored Treatment: NIR therapy offers customizable options to meet individual needs. Providers can adjust parameters such as wavelength, treatment duration, and frequency to optimize outcomes, whether for wellness improvement, skin rejuvenation, or injury healing.

Learn more: Best LED Light Therapy Masks

Is Near-Infrared Light Therapy Safe? 

NIR light therapy is indeed safe. It doesn’t produce harmful levels of heat, making it safe for human use, similar to the gentle warmth of infrared saunas. Low-level light therapy in the NIR range doesn’t cause cell damage either, with only a slight warming sensation during treatment.

Studies haven’t reported any adverse effects from short- or long-term use, affirming its safety. While NIR light therapy has shown promising results in clinical trials, it’s important to note that it’s not a cure for any condition but rather a supportive tool for the body’s natural healing process.

The FDA has approved NIR light therapy for pain management and certain chronic skin conditions. However, larger studies are needed for broader FDA approval for other conditions.

How Do You Use Near-Infrared Light Therapy?

Using near-infrared (NIR) light therapy at home has become easier with advancements in technology. While handheld devices are available, they’re often less powerful than larger panels.

LED therapy devices emit red and near-infrared wavelengths, which can treat various conditions from skin to the brain. The most effective wavelengths are around 660nm and 850nm.

To use NIR therapy, simply stand, sit, or lie in front of the panel. For red light therapy, follow the manufacturer’s recommended distance. Treatment sessions typically last 10 to 20 minutes, three to five times per week.

Ensure the treatment area is bare skin, as clothing blocks light absorption. Treatment duration varies depending on the condition, ranging from days to months. Consistency is vital for chronic conditions, with follow-up sessions occurring weekly.

Learn more: Best At-Home Light Therapy Devices

Looking for professional skincare advice? Schedule an online consultation with dermatologist Dr. Ava Patel to address your concerns.

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