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Red Light Therapy: 10 FAQs

Updated: Feb 2

Red light therapy seems to be taking the medical community by storm, but what is it? Can this holistic treatment really heal everything the light passes through? How does it work and what does it cost? Is it safe?

From skin conditions to chronic pain, inflammation to injuries, if you are suffering from something you may be wondering about if red light can really work for you. Here's everything you need to know about red light, near infrared light, and infrared light therapy.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is a technology that was first investigated and used by NASA in aiding plant growth and healing astronauts while in space. Red light therapy can go by many names, and sometimes be used inaccurately with similar names, including:

  • Low-level laser light therapy (LLLT)

  • Low-power laser therapy

  • Infrared Light (IR light)

  • Non-thermal LED light

  • Near Infrared Light

  • Soft laser therapy

  • Cold laser therapy

  • Biostimulation

  • Photonic stimulation

  • Photobiomodulation

  • Phototherapy

What's the Difference between Red Light Therapy, Infrared Light, and Near Infrared Light?

Light that we can see as the color red is between 630 - 660 nanometers. This is what we refer to as 'red light'. It is the shallowest penetrating, at about 2mm. This is a popular choice for skin conditions due to its shallow reach. Near infrared light is invisible with wavelengths between 810 - 850 nanometers. These wavelengths can travel deeper into the body, about 5mm, reaching muscle, joint, and bone. This is a popular choice for reducing deep tissue inflammation and for promoting healing in deeper body areas. It is commonly used for sprains, strains, and musculoskeletal injuries. Infrared light has wavelengths that are over 900 nanometers, and can travel several inches into the body. Both infrared light and near infrared light therapy are popular choices among people suffering with chronic pain, spasms, stiffness, arthritis, and inflammation.

What does Red Light Therapy actually do?

Historically, red light has been used in medical treatments and pharmaceuticals, but on a narrow scope. Traditionally, red light has been used to treat skin conditions, such as:

  • Skin Cancer

  • Psoriasis

  • Rosacea

  • Eczema

  • Warts

  • Wound/burn healing

  • Scar appearance

  • Stretch marks

  • Wrinkles

  • Age spots / sun damage

  • Acne

  • Skin texture

  • Hair growth

However, the medical community has recently been expanding it's research, investigating the benefits of red light therapy for all body systems, organs, diseases, injuries and illnesses. There are many studies regarding the effectiveness of red light therapy, and there are several recent studies that show incredible promise.

Some uses currently under investigation include:

  • Pain relief

  • Reducing Inflammation

  • Reducing side effects of chemotherapy

  • Preventing cold sores

Outside of studies, there are thousands of first hand experiences of people who have benefited from the use of red light therapy. While we are waiting on studies with control groups, many people claim red light has helped them with:

  • Many skin conditions

  • Pain (acute and chronic)

  • Weight loss

  • Cancer

  • Arthritis

  • Mental health

  • Long COVID

  • Inflammation

  • Healing injuries

  • Boosting immunity

  • Anti-aging

  • Recovery from seasonal illnesses

Is Red Light Therapy Safe?

Red light therapy has been used for over 50 years, is non-toxic, non-invasive and does not seem to have any known side effects for short term use. It is also a treatment that is warmly embraced by natural and holistic communities who prefer alternative medicine options. Results vary from person to person. Some people see benefits immediately, or within just a few treatments, other people notice improvement after several weeks (or months) of consistent treatment (2-3 sessions per. week).

How does Red Light Therapy work?

Our cells use red light therapy similar to the way a plant uses sunlight to make food. Every cell in our body has a power house called a mitochondria. These powerhouses soak up the light and convert it to energy, which is then used to heal. Because of specific wavelengths, red light able to penetrate the body and reach cells that other forms of light cannot reach.

Where can I get Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is available in many venues, including gyms, physician offices (such as a Dermatologist), physical therapy clinics, wellness centers, and spas.

Here at Therapy Pros, we offer several types of red light therapy, including low-level laser light therapy, red light and near infrared light sauna and red light/near infrared light lamps. These options not only offer the benefits if red light therapy, but also offer heat therapy as well.

What about Red Light Therapy Devices for Home?

While red light therapy devices for home use, such as red light therapy masks, are widely available online, not all devices are created equal. Products need to produce specific wavelengths as well as provide specific irradiance in order to offer the healing benefits.

Wavelengths should be as follows:

Red Light: 630-660 nanometers

Near Infrared Light: 810-850 nanometers

Infrared Light: >900 nanometers

Irradiance is the amount of light energy received by a specific body area. The most common form of measurement is milliwatts per square centimeter (mW/cm2). The higher the irradiance the more photons (or energy) is available in an area (cm2) for absorption by cells. This simply means that the higher the irradiance the more effective and quickly you will be treated. Beware of tricky marketing here though, as companies may list the irradiance on the face of the device, and not what is actually being received by the person using it. Irradiance is lost over distance, so this needs to be factored in when choosing a red light device for home use.

In additions, you should consider the use of LED lights vs incandescent bulbs, as both have their benefits and fall backs. LED lights last, are more cost effective to run, but emit EMF (electro magnetic radiation). Incandescent bulbs do not emit EMF, can offer heat therapy as an added bonus, but do not last as long as LEDs, and use more electricity to run them. If selecting a device for home use that has LED lights, the more lights on the device the better. If choosing a device with an incandescent bulb, there is really only one option and that is thermalight technology through saunaspace. Incandescent bulbs can't produce the correct wavelengths needed for red light therapy, but sunspace has engineered one that can. If you want the benefits of red light without harmful EMF and UV, saunaspace is who you will need to go with.

We have also selected several red light, near infrared light and infrared light devices that we believe are the most effective at providing the benefits of red light therapy. They can be found on our product recommendation page here.

How much does Red Light Therapy Cost?

The cost of red light therapy is determined by several factors. The cost of living in the area, the device being used, the amount of time being treated, and the type of specialist providing treatment.

Nationally, red light treatment costs range from $25 - $200 for a 10-15 minute session. Most insurances do not cover red light treatments yet, so these are usually cash based services that are paid for at the time of service. Some HSA or HSA/flex spend accounts can be used for these services though.

Here at Therapy Pros we strive to keep our prices as affordable as possible so that more people can benefit from this type of treatment. Costs at our clinic are as follows.

Therapy Pros Red Light Therapy Costs:

Low-level Laser Light Therapy (LLLT) - $75 per. body area

  • + $25 for each additional body area

Red Light & Near Infrared Light Sauna - $40 for 30 minutes

Red Light & Near Infrared Light Sauna - $20 for 15 minutes

Red Light & Near Infrared Light Lamp and CBD lotion - $25 for 20 minutes

*Note: Some insurances will cover the cost of the red light lamp when combined with traditional physical therapy services; At Therapy Pros Red light lamp therapy is included in the cost when paying for a Dry Needling session.

Which Red Light Therapy is Right for Me?

Choosing which type of red light treatment is best for you depends on what you are trying to treat or achieve.

Red light which has the shallowest wavelengths of 630-660 nanometers is popular in red light therapy mask devices and commonly used by dermatologist. This type of treatment is benefits many skin conditions such as (but not limited to):

  • Eczema

  • Psoriasis

  • Rosacea

  • Acne

  • Fine lines

  • Wrinkles

  • Age spots

  • Stretchmarks

  • Scars

  • Burns

  • UV damage

  • Warts

  • Some skin cancers

  • Hair regrowth

  • Reducing fatigue

Near Infrared light has wavelengths of 810-850 nanometers this light can travel up to 5mm into the body (a little over 2 inches). This treatment is most effective when treating (but not limited to):

  • Bone healing

  • Nerve healing

  • Reducing acute & chronic pain

  • Reducing inflammation

  • Relieving stiffness/aches

  • Forming new blood vessels

  • Increasing circulation

  • Increasing collagen production

  • Wound healing

  • Improving recovery in stroke patients

  • Traumatic brain injury recovery

  • Improving psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety)

  • Muscle recovery

Infrared light has wavelengths greater than 900 nanometers. This allows it the travel deeper into the body than any other red light treatment. Infrared and near infrared light are both used for similar ailments. (see list above)

Many red light therapy devices for home use offer one or both of these wavelengths. It is most beneficial to choose an at home device that offers both wavelengths.


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