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Light Therapy: LED vs. IPL

Red Light Therapy earned the moniker NASA Light Therapy for a good reason. More than 40 years ago, NASA
observed that astronauts who became injured while in space would not heal until
they were back here on Earth. When plants were placed aboard spacecraft to
experiment with ways to grow food during long distance space travel, the
astronauts who became injured were healing before they got back to earth. The
scientists determined that the red lights that were used to encourage the
plants to grow were in fact healing the astronauts’ wounds!

Red Light Therapy uses wavelengths of visible red light from the 630 — 660
nanometers, and the invisible infrared light at 880 nm, to penetrate deep into
the layers of the skin.
Visible red light penetrates to a depth
of 8-10 mm. The dermal layers, with high water and blood content, absorb red
light very readily.  It is beneficial in treating problems close to the skin
surface. It promotes healing of inflamed acne, wounds, cuts, scars, and
infections. It can also be recommended as a post care treatment after
fractional laser, dermal roller, chemical peel, and dermabrasion.
LED Light Therapy 

light penetrates deeper and stimulates the activity of fibroblasts, which are
responsible for making the proteins collagen and elastin. 
Collagen and elastin
are responsible for supporting the skin and giving it its elasticity.
Replenishing the collagen and elastin helps smooth wrinkles.
Infrared light uses relatively
longer wavelength, penetrating to a depth of 30-40 mm, which makes it effective
also for problems with bones, joints, and deep muscles.

The favored
source of concentrated red light is LED (light emitting diode), which do not
get hot and do not burn out. LEDs
are very small
special light bulbs illuminated by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor
material. LEDs emit both visible red light and infrared light.

The Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy published
a 2005 clinical study on 31 subjects who received eight weekly treatments of
infrared LED light therapy. After the treatments were done, 82 percent of the
patients reported that they had a marked reduction in facial wrinkles,
especially around the eyes. Through a technique called photoaging scoring, 52
percent of the subjects had significant improvement in their facial appearance.
This study concluded that while infrared LED light therapy is a valid and
effective way of treating wrinkles and other blemishes for many people,
although it won’t work for everyone.

Aside from LED, another device for photo rejuvenation is IPL
(intense pulsed light). A handpiece is placed gently on the skin which delivers
flashes of lights, also in the visible red and near infrared range. IPL photorejuvenation consists of full-face treatment or
treatment of isolated body areas like the hands or chest. The treatment regimen
typically consists of
four to six
treatments at two-week intervals.

It is important to understand that it is the light
itself at specific wavelengths that is therapeutic in nature and not the
machine that produced it
It is of course important that the operator sets the correct wavelength and prescribed
power for the specific treatment to be effective. LED Red Light Therapy and IPL
Photo Rejuvenation therapy are non-invasive anti-aging alternatives, which are
both available in SkinStation.


This was published in the August 14, 2012 issue of Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section. The author is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at
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