Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT)

Cosmetic Medical Clinic Cambridge

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Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT)

Light therapy in the form of laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) has been in use to remove unwanted hair and skin lesions for several decades. As the number of treatments grew it was noticed that areas adjacent to the treatment area, exposed to lower level scattered light, exhibited signs of skin rejuvenation. Consequently with the development of higher power Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) a whole new range of therapeutic treatments have been enabled.

LLLT is still a relatively intense form of light but at a fluence (brightness) well below the intensity used in laser and IPL treatments. Laser and IPL treatments largely work by heating specific components in the skin to a level that causes controlled and selective thermal damage. LLLT is different in that there is no significant heating of the skin and the intensity is at a therapeutic, rather than destructive level.

LEDs are able to produce light at very specific wavelengths and it is the combination of the wavelength of the light and the therapeutic intensity that produces the benefits.

Note: Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) is often also referred to as Photo Dynamic Therapy (PDT).Although typically PDT also involves the use of light in combination with photo sensitised pharmaceuticals to treat specific medical conditions such as some forms of skin cancer.

PDT with blue light

Blue light at a wavelength of 415nm is at the upper end of the visible spectrum and is readily absorbed by the bacteria that cause acne. Consequently although it does not harm the skin, light at 415nm does destroy the acne bacteria and is a significant part of the clinic’s approach to active acne treatment.

Once the visible signs of acne are under control, blue light therapy is a useful component in the suppression of the acne bacteria.

PDT with blue light

Red Light at a wavelength of 633nm will penetrate the skin to about 1mm which is well beyond the important boundary layer at about 0.5mm deep, between the epidermis and underlying dermis.

This wavelength of light stimulates the circulation of this top layer of skin and also produces a photochemical effect within the cellular mitochondria, which enables the cells to function more efficiently and aids the repair of damaged or compromised cells.

Laboratory experiments have shown that the use of LLLT can speed up the repair of wounds by between 140 and almost 200%. In normally aged skin the increase in cell activity and collagen production has a photo rejuvenation effect, which is entirely painless (most people describe the experience as pleasant and relaxing).

Near Infra Red at 810-830nm penetrates more deeply – up to around 2mm. The use of the longer wavelengths in the red and near infra-red range have been found to be beneficial in the relief of pain and in accelerating the healing process.

Combined Wavelengths – For instance red and blue light can be used at the same time. It appears purple but is a mixture of the two distinct wavelengths and delivers the benefits of each in parallel.

Other uses of LLT – In addition to its use for treating acne, skin rejuvenation and wound healing (including following other treatments) LLT is useful as part of the approach to the treatment of Rosaeca, Eczema and Psoriasis.