Red Light Therapy For Wound Healing

Red Light Therapy For Wound Healing

When it goes well, the wound healing process is not something you give much thought to. Especially when it comes to skin wound healing and minor injuries, you just let the body do its thing. However, sometimes the process does not go as planned, and the body needs a little help to recuperate.

Red light therapy with different wavelengths of light works as a great way to support the body during the wound healing process. Study after study has shown that treatments with a red light device can accelerate the process without negative side effects.

What Is a Wound?

A wound is an injury to tissue, and it usually involves a cut or other form of damage to the skin's surface. Wound healing is part of the body’s natural ability to regenerate. The most common types of wounds are cuts, burns, grazes, and sores.

When you think of wounds, your mind usually pictures a surface wound. However, they can often be deeper too. In that case, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and even bones can be affected. Every wound carries a potential danger of infection, and that danger increases when the healing process takes longer than usual.

Normally, smaller wounds heal much faster than bigger ones, but an infection can impede and prolong the healing regardless of the size.


Stages of The Wound Healing Process

Although you might not have noticed it, there are specific stages of the wound healing process.

Blood Clotting

Wounds usually start with bleeding, and blood clotting is the body‘s response to that. The role of blood clotting is to stop the bleeding.

A blood clot is basically a buildup of blood cells called platelets and protein molecules called fibrin, which clot together to prevent blood loss. Platelets dry and form a scab, and fibrin attaches it to the wound.

Once the bleeding has stopped, blood flow has an important role in the healing. The blood's job is to bring oxygen and immune cells to the wound. These blood cells, called macrophages, will fight any germs and prevent infection. Macrophages also produce certain chemicals, which help to clean out and fix the wound.

The Inflammatory Response

Once the bleeding has stopped, blood flow has an important role in the healing. The bloods job is to bring oxygen and immune cells to the wound. These blood cells, called macrophages, will fight any germs and prevent infection. Macrophages also produce certain chemicals, which help to clean out and fix the wound.

Cell Proliferation And Collagen Production

Optimal blood circulation is also important, because red blood cells and the oxygen they carry help repair the tissue. Collagen serves as the frame for this new granulation tissue. The tissue forms from new cells, and lower rates of cell proliferation may slow down the process.

Scars And Normal Tissue

Scars are a normal part of the healing process, and they are made out of connective tissue. It is not unusual for scars to itch and pucker. They are usually red to begin with, but pale with time. Eventually, as the new skin becomes stronger, the scar sometimes goes away altogether, leaving behind normal tissue.

What Factors Influence The Wound Healing Process?

The normal duration of the healing process is around four to six weeks.

Sometimes, tissue repair doesn't happen in that time frame, and a wound persists for a longer period of time. Up to 2 percent of patients in developed countries experience these non-healing wounds.

There are multiple factors that can interfere with wound and burn healing, such as diabetes, poor oxygenation of the tissue, infection, stress, and various lifestyle factors such as malnutrition, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Low level laser therapy can help boost the beneficial factors like tissue oxygenation, and aide tissue repair.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is also known as low intensity laser therapy or low power laser therapy. It is a form of photobiomodulation or light therapy. This type of light therapy uses light emitting diodes which produce red and near infrared light.

Red light devices usually use a combination of specific wavelengths, some of visible light and others that belong to the invisible light spectrum.

Red light therapy was discovered by NASA. At first, they used it in experiments to see if these frequencies of light would stimulate plant growth. Soon, they noticed that the lights intended for plants seemed to accelerate wound healing in the humans who tended to them.

Nowadays, red light therapy benefits are much better known. There is plenty of scientific evidence that supports LED phototherapy as an emerging treatment used not just to heal wounds but also to stimulate hair growth, support skin health, help the body produce more energy, and treat various other conditions.

How Does Red Light Therapy for Wound Healing Work?

According to NASA's continued research, red light therapy is an especially effective way to reduce pain and stimulate healing for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Their findings are not solitary - there is an impressive amount of research that explains how red light therapy works when it comes to healing wounds. Several studies, including randomized controlled trials confirm the efficacy of red light therapy in treating extremely painful mouth wounds in head and neck cancer patients.

But how exactly does red light therapy help with wound healing? There are several mechanisms.

Better Oxygenation

Oxygen is produced in almost every cell of the body, in a part of the cell called the mitochondria. Red light therapy has been shown to boost the proliferation of mitochondria, as well as support the oxygen production process. 

Improved Blood Circulation

The newly produced oxygen is carried to the location of the wound by red blood cells. When low level laser therapy with red light boosts circulation, it increases the number of red blood cells in the area, and consequently, the amount of oxygen that the tissue gets.

A More Robust Immune Response

Along with the oxygen, another tool that will help mend the wound arrives at the scene. Better blood circulation brings along more immune cells, which guard the wound from infection. Low level light therapy with red light also stimulates the effectiveness of the immune cells.

Intense Cell Proliferation

Some exciting studies have shown that apart from mitochondrial proliferation, red light therapy also stimulates regeneration and proliferation of entire cells. Apparently, the more stressed the cells are, the better they respond to red light.

Higher Energy Levels

Apart from oxygen, mitochondria also produce a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In its chemical bonds, this molecule carries the energy that is used by every cell in your body. With red light therapy, affected cells have more energy to heal.

Better Sleep

Science says that healing is faster with sufficient rest. Red light therapy, regulates, melatonin, and other hormones that play a role in healthy sleep.

A Boost in Collagen Production

Red light has been shown to stimulate collagen production. Collagen provides the scaffolding on which new tissue forms. An intradermal collagen density increase that happens during red light therapy, can significantly improve and speed up healing.

Is Red Light Therapy Safe?

Daily red light therapies to help heal injuries are completely safe and non-invasive. The light emitting diode doesn't produce heat or UV rays. It doesn't increase chances of cancer or damage the skin.

Whereas conventional laser therapy and even low level laser therapy treatments with blue light require caution and might cause some sensitivity, a red an near infrared light treatment can be used for treating wounds with no adverse effects.

In fact, if you use red light therapy to relieve pain and treat skin wounds, you might notice other health benefits. Red light therapy improves skin complexion, leads to skin rejuvenation, helps reduce stretch marks and speeds up the regeneration of scar tissue.

However, the benefits of low power light therapy are not limited to skin conditions. Low level laser therapy with red light is successfully used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, sleep problems, the thyroid gland, and various other conditions.


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  2. American College of Surgeons. (2015). Non-healing wounds: types, treatment, and impact.

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  7. Avci, P., Gupta, A., Sadasivam, M., Vecchio, D., Pam, Z., Pam, N., . . . Hamblin, M. R. (2013). Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, 32(1), 41-52. doi: 10.12788/j.sder.0011

  8. National Human Genome Research Institute. (n.d.). Mitochondria

  9. Menezes, R. F., Laakso, E. L., & Santos, G. M. (2017). Photobiomodulation and the expression of genes related to the JAK/STAT signaling pathway in the muscle of rats subjected to a protocol of physical exercise. Lasers in Medical Science, 32(1), 127-132. doi: 10.1007/s10103-016-2084-9

  10. Sousa, L. G., Mendonca, T. A., Andrade, F. M., de Carvalho, M. S., & de Oliveira, R. G. (2018). Effects of low-level laser therapy on thyroid function and pain intensity in hypothyroidism induced by methimazole: a pilot study. Lasers in Medical Science, 33(8), 1721-1728. doi: 10.1007/s10103-018-2588-x

  11. Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.). Adenosine triphosphate.

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