Light Emitting Diode Treatments
Antiaging skin & medical dermatology treatment by light therapy
Dr Paul Charlson
GPwSI East Yorkshire and Medical Director Skinqure Clinic, Welton, Brough East Yorkshire
LED (light emitting diode) therapy is not new. Recently there has been renewed interest in this therapy and it is popular in aesthetic clinics. A significant number of patients with dermatological problems will have had or enquired about this form of treatment. In aesthetic practice these treatments are often used as a supplement to other treatments such as non ablative laser but can be used as a stand alone. The advantages are that the treatments are cheap and easy to administer, can be used on all skin types and have minimal side effects
LED treatments usually consist of blue light around 415 nm ,red light around 630nm and near infra red around 830nm.These are often combined to maximise the effects. LED therapy is a low energy light delivery system.
Blue or red light are used in the treatment of acne either alone or in combination. Blue light is considered to have antibacterial properties and is effective against P Acnes. There have been several small trials which showed benefit in acne. A trial of 107 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris were randomized into four treatment groups: blue light, mixed blue and red light, cool white light and 5% benzoyl peroxide cream. After 12 weeks of active treatment a mean improvement of 76% (95% confidence interval 66-87) in inflammatory lesions was achieved by the combined blue-red light phototherapy; this was significantly superior to that achieved by blue light (at weeks 4 and 8 but not week 12), benzoyl peroxide (at weeks 8 and 12) or white light (at each assessment). The final mean improvement in comedones by using blue-red light was 58% (95% confidence interval 45-71), again better than that achieved by the other active treatments used, although the differences did not reach significant levels. We have found that phototherapy with mixed blue-red light, probably by combining antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action, is an effective means of treating acne vulgaris of mild to moderate severity, with no significant short-term adverse effects[i]
A systemic review concluded some forms of light therapy were of short-term benefit. Patients may find it easier to comply with these treatments, despite the initial discomfort, because of their short duration. However, very few trials compared light therapy with conventional acne treatments, were conducted in patients with severe acne or examined long-term benefits of treatment.[ii]
When used for photo rejuvenation optimal results tend to occur between 3-6 months after treatment.
Red light increases significantly cell growth in a diversity of cell lines and accelerated healing and greater amounts of epithelialisation in skin grafts have been demonstrated [v] . There is limited scientific evidence that LED treatment post CO2 laser resurfacing is effective but there are many reports that it reduces signs in the acute healing phase [vi]and possibly reduces post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. The later if proven could have massive implications in the aesthetic market where over half the World’s population are prone to hyper-pigmentation.
Sunburn and photo prophylaxis
This is potentially a new use for LED treatment. Shorter healing times have been reported in small studies using LED treatment post exposure[vii] There is also some impression based on in vitro studies that LED treatments could be used to stimulate skin resistance to UV damage without the drawbacks of traditional sun screens. Potentially Led may be useful in polymorphous light eruption and lupus.
LED therapy is safe, easy and cheap to administer with no reported side effects. Evidence for its effectiveness is often from small studies which do not show statistically significant benefit. This does not mean that the treatment should be discounted as the many trials together with in vitro evidence and theoretical opinion tend to favour its use over not using it. Many aesthetic clinics report significant patient satisfaction when using LED treatments post procedure to reduce erythema and aid healing or to brighten photo-damaged skin. The cost of a single treatment is around £40 making even a course of treatments within reach of a larger population making the treatment popular. Clinics report that patients tend to return for further courses which are a sure sign of benefit.
Dr Charlson is the Medical director of Skinqure Clinic which offers LED treatment
[i] Br J Dermatol. 2000 May;142(5):973-8.Phototherapy with blue (415 nm) and red (660 nm) light in the treatment of acne vulgaris.Papageorgiou P, Katsambas A, Chu A.Unit of Dermatology, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Hammersmith Hospital, DuCane Road, London W12 0NN, U.K.
[ii] Br J Dermatol. 2009 Jun;160(6):1273-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2009.09047.x. Epub 2009 Feb 23.Laser and other light therapies for the treatment of acne vulgaris: systematic review.Hamilton FL, Car J, Lyons C, Car M, Layton A, Majeed A.Department of Primary Care and Social Medicine, Imperial College London, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
[iii] Fisher GJ,Kang s , Varani j et al Mechanisms of photoagging and chronological skin aging. Arch Dermatology 138:1462-1470 2002
[v] Conlan MJ, Rapley JW, Cobb CM : Biostimulation of wound healing by low energy laser irradiation JClin Periodontology 23:492-496 1996
[vi] Weiss RA, McDaniel DH Geronemus RG et al :clinical trial of a novel non thermal LED array for reversal of photoaging:clinical,histologic and surface profilometric results Lasers Surg Med 2005;36:85-91
[vii] Barolet D :LED in dermatology . Sermi CutanMed Surg 2008:27:227-238