In the weeks that led to this review, I figured out whether Red Light Therapy actually works. We took the time to dig deep and really investigate, examining the ingredients, side effects, level of customer service and scientific studies. Then we sorted through all kinds of user comments and feedback that is posted online. Finally, we summed up all of the facts and details we discovered to give you the crucial information you need.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is otherwise called photobiomodulation (PBM), low-level light therapy, biostimulation, photonic stimulation or light box therapy.
Red light therapy can be described as alternative medicine of some sort that applies low-level (low-power) lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to the surface of the body. Low-power lasers are claimed to relieve pain or to stimulate and enhance cell function. 
Red light therapy includes having low-power red light wavelengths discharged specifically through the skin. This procedure can’t be felt and does not cause pain because it does not produce any form of heat. Red light is absorbed into the skin to a depth of about eight to 10 millimeters, at which point it has positive effects on cellular energy and multiple nervous systems and metabolic processes.
Red light therapy is used for treating:
- symptoms of joint pain or osteoarthritis due to aging
- issues caused by cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation
- hair loss
- wounds or incisions
- wrinkles and skin discoloration
- chronic muscular pain
- neurological damage
- tissue damage (often at the root of tears, sprains or pulls)
Red light therapy health risks are at the barest minimum – if there is any, and because there is no clear agreement on the validity of red light therapy, studies have suggested that Red light therapy may be effective to some extent. 
How Did Red Light Therapy Start?
Endre Mester, a Hungarian physician and surgeon is credited with the discovery of the biological effects of low power lasers, which happened a few years after the 1960 invention of the ruby laser and the 1961 invention of the helium-neon (HeNe) laser. Mester accidentally found out that low-level ruby laser light could make hair grow again while trying to repeat an experiment that showed that such lasers could reduce tumors in mice.
The laser he was using was faulty and wasn’t as powerful as he thought; it failed to affect the tumors, but he noticed that in the places where he had shaved the mice to do the experiments, the hair grew back faster on mice he treated compared with the placebos.
He published those results in 1967.
He then went on to show that low-level HeNe light could hasten wound healing in mice. By the 1970s he was applying low-level laser light to treat people with skin ulcers.
Mester founded the Laser Research Center at the Semmelweis Medical University in Budapest in 1974 and continued working there for the rest of his life. His children continued his work and imported it to the United States.
By 1987 companies selling lasers were claiming that they could treat pain, accelerate healing of sports injuries, and treat arthritis, but there was little evidence for this at that time.
By 2016 they had been marketed for wound healing, smoking cessation, tuberculosis, and musculoskeletal conditions and there was still little evidence for these uses, other than a possible use in temporarily treating muscle or joint pain.
Mester originally called this approach “laser biostimulation,” but it soon became known as “low-level laser therapy” or “red light therapy.” With light emitting diodes adapted by those studying this approach, it then became known as “low-level light therapy,” and to resolve confusion around the exact meaning of “low level,” the term “photobiomodulation” arose. 
Red Light Therapy Claims
The manufacturers of low-power lasers often claim that red light therapy products like red light therapy bed and red light therapy pad among others do relieve pain or stimulate and enhance cell function.
Red light therapy generally claims to help jump-start the process of tissue recovery in a natural way and other forms of rejuvenation through increased blood flow, collagen stimulation for reducing wrinkles, treating a lot of conditions needing the stimulation of healing, relief of pain and inflammation, and restoration of function.
Red Light Therapy Ingredients
There are no ingredients for red light therapy. However, there is a lot of equipment that can be used for red light therapy, some of which are listed below.
- Cold Laser for chiropractic.
- Red light therapy bed.
- Red light therapy pad.
- Red laser devices
- Led devices
Keep in mind that you should consult with your physician before undertaking laser therapy on yourself.
Does Red Light Therapy Work?
That is the million dollar question. The answer to this question depends on the reason red light therapy is used.
The mechanism by which red light therapy works is not really clear, and despite a lack of consensus on its validity, some studies suggest that Red light therapy may be modestly effective. In most cases it worked no better than placebo in relieving short-term pain for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, acute and chronic neck pain, tendinopathy, and possibly chronic joint disorders. 
Red Light Therapy Benefits And Results
Red light therapy has a variety of benefits ranging from neuro-muscular benefits to skin care and others. If you’re still having doubts about red light therapy, listed below are a few of the numerous red light therapy benefits. 
- Red light therapy is approved by the FDA for chronic joint pain
- It assists in rejuvenating facial skin and smooths skin tone.
- Red light therapy builds collagen in the skin to reduce wrinkles.
- It helps in repairing sun damage.
- Red light activates the lymphatic system for potentially improved detoxification.
- Red light therapy decreases inflammation in the skin.
- It helps in fading scars and stretch marks.
- It also improves hair growth.
- Red light therapy stimulates slow-healing wounds.
- It is highly beneficial for the skin to reduce eczema, rosacea, and acne.
A lot of the published studies on red light therapy results are negative which could be possible because of an inappropriate choice of light source and dosage. It may also be due to lack of appropriate preparation of the patient’s skin before application of the treatment, such as: not cleaning makeup and oily debris, which can interfere with the penetration of the light source, and failure to account for skin pigmentation.
Poor maintenance of red light therapy equipment can also decrease its performance and interfere with clinical results as well. It is important to note that there is an optimal dose of light for any particular application. 
Details On Red Light Therapy And Weight Loss
Red light therapy and weight loss have been a major argument between supporters and critics of red light therapy. Much has been said about red light therapy’s effectiveness in helping with skin health, pain relief, and regeneration but the weight loss aspect is one that has been overlooked by many.
Even though the mechanism of action for red light therapy for weight loss has not been completely defined, one theory is that red light therapy affects adipocytes (fat storing cells), which cause the lipids to disperse. To say it simply, red light therapy helps the body wash away fat cells.
Red light therapy has been found to spur other actions that affect fat and weight loss as well. For example, a 2012 study in the International Journal of Endocrinology showed that red light could affect hunger, which reduces the intake of extra fat into the body.
This study found that red light helped to control levels of the hunger-related hormones leptin and ghrelin in sleep-deprived participants. 
The studies today suggest that red light therapy has a potential to be used in fat and cellulite reduction as well as in the improvement of blood lipid profiles without any significant side effects. One of the primary mechanisms of action is based upon the production of transient pores in adipocytes, allowing lipids to leak out. Another is through activation of the complement cascade which could cause induction of adipocyte apoptosis and subsequent release of lipids. 
There you have it! Don’t forget to add weight loss to the lengthy benefits of using red light therapy.
How To Use Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy has a photochemical effect. One of the main mechanisms of the action occurs in the mitochondria. The effect depends on the application of the correct wavelength and density of light delivered to the target tissues for an appropriate period (typically between 30 – 60 seconds). Pulses can improve tissue repair and anti-inflammatory effect; analgesia is best achieved with a continuous beam.
For red light therapy to be effective, the irradiation parameters (wavelength, power, power density, pulse parameters, energy density, total energy and time) need to be within certain stated ranges, depending on the red light therapy product you’re using. There are four clinical targets for Red light therapy: 
- The site of injury to promote healing, remodeling and reduce inflammation.
- Lymph nodes to reduce edema and inflammation.
- Nerves to induce analgesia.
- Trigger points to reduce tenderness and relax contracted muscle fibers.
Treatment times per point are in the range of 30 seconds to 1 minute. As little as one point may be treated in simple cases, but as many as 10 to 15 points may be treated for more complex dysfunction such as cervical or lumbar radiculopathy. 
Red Light Therapy Cost
I’m sure you must be wondering if red light therapy is worth the cost. Well, if your wrinkles bother you and you want to have younger-looking skin without spending lots of money on cosmetic treatments and other red light therapy uses, then probably yes. Buying and using a device at home is cheaper over the long run than expensive skin serums and dermatology appointments. There are affordable devices starting as low as $50.
Red Light Therapy At Home
Instead of making frequent trips to a dermatologist and paying around $100 each time, would you rather stay at home and treat yourself with a device you’ve already bought? Red light therapy at home saves you time and money. You can do it during your leisure time.
Of course, home treatment devices aren’t as powerful, so treatments take longer – say about 15 minutes daily, but red light therapy may also replace the creams and skin treatments you’ve been spending money on, so you’ll save money by not buying those as well.
Red Light Therapy Effect On Thyroid
Over the years, studies have shown that applying red light directly to the thyroid gland (front of the neck) improves production of the hormones. Red light therapy can be used to safely improve the overall health of the thyroid gland – showing promise as an effective and safe alternative to traditional thyroid treatments, including medication and surgery.
Is Red Light Therapy Safe?
Red light therapy appears to be safe. Some dermatologists and salons now offer red light therapy, which rejuvenates skin and alleviates pain. The red light treatment is done on a UV free red therapy bed and red therapy pad.
Potential Red Light Therapy Side Effects
It’s normal to think that there must be red light therapy side effects. Red light therapy is safe and effective, and there are no known long-term side effects of this form of light therapy. Averting your eyes from the laser’s red or infrared light is necessary, but the FDA has found no other red flags or side effects from using red light therapy. The light emitted does not cause your skin to burn, so there is no risk of pain except under certain conditions. 
Red Light Therapy Product Warnings
Red light therapy appears safe. The potential hazards are mostly ocular, as some red light therapy products are lasers, although a lot of red light therapy products have become LED. In most cases, products emit divergent vs focused beams, so the risk to eyes diminishes over distance. Manufacturers are required to include the ‘nominal ocular hazard distance’ (NOHD) in the red light therapy instructions. It is important to adhere to red light therapy instructions, some of which we will discuss here.
Do not aim laser beams into the eyes and everyone present should wear appropriate safety glasses.
Do not treat over the site of any known primary carcinoma or secondary metastasis. However, if the patient is undergoing chemotherapy, red light therapy can be used to reduce side effects such as mucositis. Red light therapy can also be considered in terminally- ill cancer patients for palliative relief. In this case, it is used with permission from a physician.
There is no evidence of harm to an unborn baby. However, there are no safety tests either, so prudence dictates it not be used directly over the developing fetus. It may be used for the treatment of back pain on pregnant women.
It is conceivable that a high-intensity laser treatment direct to the thyroid might (temporarily) stimulate (or inhibit) some thyroid activity. We suggest not applying lasers directly to the thyroid.
Treatment over a tattoo with higher irradiance laser may cause pain as the dye absorbs the laser energy and gets hot.
Hair on the head
Treatment of the head and neck with high irradiance laser may cause pain as the melanin in the fine superficial hair follicle absorbs a lot of the laser energy.
Very dark skin
Occasionally some people with very dark skin feel an unpleasant amount of heat.
People with epilepsy
Low frequency pulsed visible light (<30Hz) might trigger a seizure in photosensitive, epileptic patients.
Red Light Therapy Alternatives
There is no known 100% effective alternative to red light therapy which makes red light therapy seem almost perfect.
There is a similar light therapy known as blue light therapy, but this type of therapy mostly deals with skin cancer, acne, and depression. It does not provide pain relief, weight loss, and other outstanding red light therapy uses. Therefore, blue light therapy cannot be considered an alternative to red light therapy.
Any Red Light Therapy Lawsuits?
There are no lawsuits about red light therapy. The general feedback on red light therapy has been good. Red light therapy is being used in different areas by different people, and the performance of the products has been impressive when used according to the red light therapy instructions.
Despite the claim of no side effects, there have been some reports of mild short-term side effects from users due to the different physiological systems. However, nothing serious or tragic has happened. No lawsuit has been filed by the users of red light therapy products, and none should be expected anytime soon.
Red Light Therapy FAQs
How long does it take for red light therapy to work?
It is not an immediate miracle transformation that will occur overnight. It will provide you with ongoing improvements that you will begin to see in anywhere from 24 hours to 2 months, depending on the condition, its severity, and how regularly the light is used.
Is red light therapy FDA approved?
The therapy isn’t what gets the approval; it’s the device that must go through the FDA approval process. Each manufactured device must prove that it works and is safe to use. So yes, red light therapy has been FDA approved. But not all red light therapy devices have FDA approval.
Does red light therapy work through clothes, bandages or dressings?
No. The good thing about red light is that you can see it. Shine the light on your clothes and see if it comes out the other side. The color will be absorbed by the fabric. Only the red light that you can see reaching your skin can be absorbed by your skin.
Can I use it more than once per day?
Yes. Twice per day would be fine.
Is there such thing as getting too much red light therapy?
Yes. Using red light therapy for too long can reduce the effectiveness of your treatments. Follow the directions that come with your device and resist the urge to overdo it.
What Users Are Saying
“I have used a similar product with chiropractor and wanted to have one at home. Saw this and took a chance and boy am I glad I did. I use it on my arthritis in my ankle, and it relieves pain and tight feeling. I have also used it on my dogs back and see a marked difference in his tight posture. I feel it is a great product for the price. I have since bought one to give to a friend who has chronic pain.”
“Helped on my blisters, my wrenched knee is another story. Used it a lot on it, didn’t seem to do any miracles! My girlfriend used it on some wrinkles, didn’t seem to change any (of course I didn’t say that)!”
Also: read our Burn HD Weight-Loss Kit review »
“As far as I can see/feel it does absolutely nothing to relieve my pain.”
The Bottom Line – Does Red Light Therapy Work?
Now the moment you’ve been waiting for. Here is our bottom line on Red Light Skin Therapy. To start, we like that this infrared treatment is approved by the FDA. We also appreciate that it’s commonly available in many salons and spas. However, there does not appear to be any actual science that supports this therapy as an effective weight-loss option. Furthermore, we’re concerned about the discouraging customer comments we found online. 
If you’re interested in getting rid of some excess pounds, then we suggest you choose a weight-loss treatment or supplement that is backed by solid science, does not break your bank account and is supported by numerous user testimonials.
Among the best products we’ve seen this year is one called Burn HD. It contains a powerful blend of four ingredients. Some of them are clinically tested and are shown to help spark metabolism and improve fat loss. We can’t find any discouraging user comments, and customer feedback online reveals people are seeing great results.
The makers of Burn HD are so sure about their product they’re offering a 2-Week Sample, which is a positive sign.Learn More About Burn HD »