Article at a Glance:
- Weight gain is caused by the body storing energy as fatty tissues
- Weight loss requires burning more calories than you eat
- Excess weight can cause many dangerous health conditions
- There are several lifestyle changes that can help you lose weight
- Several studies show that red light therapy is an effective weight-loss tool
- Red light therapy can support weight loss directly and indirectly
Have you ever stepped on the scale after dieting for a few weeks or working out, only to be met with disappointment? Weight loss can seem like a slow, difficult process, frustrating many. To support their weight loss efforts, many people are turning to the benefits red light therapy offers.
Red light therapy has emerged as a promising option that has garnered significant attention in recent years. It has gained popularity for its potential to improve skin conditions, reduce inflammation, and promote overall wellness. But did you know that it can also play a role in weight loss?
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the science of excess weight while also exploring the benefits of red light therapy and its role in weight loss. By the end, you’ll have a deep understanding of what causes excess weight, the scientifically-proven approaches you can use to lose weight, and how people are using red light therapy to support their weight loss efforts.
What Causes Weight Gain?
Understanding what causes weight gain  is essential for losing weight. There are many different elements involved in weight gain, all of which must be considered and addressed if you are serious about losing weight. By understanding the causes of weight gain, you will be better equipped to reach your goal weight as quickly as possible.
Fat: What is It?
Fat, also known as adipose tissue, primarily consists of a type of cell called an adipocyte. Adipocytes store energy in the form of lipids (fat molecules), which serve as a reserve for your body to use when it needs extra energy.
There are two primary types of fat in the human body: subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat lies just beneath the skin and is the most visible form of fat. It provides insulation and protection to your body while also serving as an energy reserve. Visceral fat , on the other hand, surrounds your internal organs and has a more significant impact on overall health. Excessive visceral fat can lead to many different health issues and is the most harmful form of fat.
Fat plays a vital role in maintaining your body's overall health, acting as a cushion for our organs, regulating hormones, maintaining warmth, and providing a source of energy. However, an excess of fat, especially visceral fat, can be detrimental to your health. As you burn more energy than you eat, your body will naturally begin to use the stored energy found in adipocytes, reducing the volume of fat in your body and making you lose weight.
At its core, the scientific aspects of weight gain or loss is relatively simple. Weight is stored energy and accumulates when you take more energy in than you expend. Your energy intake comes in the form of what you eat or drink, and the energy you expend is burned whenever you engage in physical activity. Your body is constantly burning energy, even when you are asleep; however, the more active you are, the more energy you’ll burn.
Energy used by the body is measured in calories. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 , the average amount of calories used each day is 1600-2400 calories for the average adult woman and 2000-3000 calories for the average adult man.
Daily calorie usage varies significantly between individuals based on several factors:
- Age - The older you are, the fewer calories you tend to burn in a day.
- Activity - The more active you are, the more calories you will use.
- Body size - The larger you are, the more calories you tend to burn.
- Body composition - The more your body consists of cells that burn energy faster, like muscle cells, the more calories you tend to burn.
There are many online calculators  that can give you an idea of how much energy you’ll burn during an average day; however, a doctor or nutritionist can provide you with the most accurate information about your daily energy needs.
While energy imbalance is the core factor behind weight gain or loss, there are many different diseases that can affect how your body burns or stores energy, ultimately making it harder to lose weight.
Some diseases that commonly lead to weight gain  include:
- Hypothyroidism - Hypothyroidism can be caused by several different conditions but is most commonly caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s disease. Hypothyroidism causes your cells to work more slowly than normal, creating a myriad of health problems. One byproduct of this condition is that your cells burn less energy than normal, causing you to gain weight as your body uses less energy.
- Cushing’s disease - Cushing’s disease occurs when your body produces too much cortisol, the hormone that your body naturally releases in response to stress. One of your body’s responses to excessive cortisol levels is to conserve energy by storing more energy as fat cells instead of burning it. This leads to increased weight.
- Depression - Depression is a mental health condition that affects your outlook on life and motivation to engage in the normal activities of life. While depression doesn’t directly affect how your body burns energy, it does make you much less likely to engage in activity due to the loss of motivation. This results in a more sedentary lifestyle and causes you to burn less energy.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes cysts to grow on a woman’s ovaries, making them produce more male hormones than they normally would. These hormones decrease the body’s sensitivity to a hormone called insulin, causing sugar to build up in the bloodstream. Over time, this leads to increased weight gain.
- Medications - While not a specific disease, the medications used to treat many different diseases impact how your body uses energy. Medications that affect hormones specifically can lead to significant changes in weight, whether it is weight loss or weight gain. You should ask your doctor about any weight-related side effects that your medications may be causing if you have questions about your unique situation.
Managing Your Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your overall well-being. There are many different ways to manage your weight, but each of these strategies ultimately relies on either decreasing your energy intake by changing your diet or increasing the amount of energy you burn by increasing your energy
While making changes to better manage your weight, you should keep in mind that making small changes to your daily routine can have a big impact on your weight and overall health over the long term. Slow and steady progress is the key to managing your weight in a sustainable way.
Following a healthy diet is essential to losing weight. While there are several different kinds of diets, all successful diets involve reducing the number of calories you eat to be below what you burn in a typical day. Many people, however, find it hard to still get enough to eat while not eating too many calories. The key to reducing calorie intake while still feeling full after eating lies in the energy density of food.
Energy density  refers to the number of calories that a given volume of food contains. Foods high in energy density have more calories per unit volume than foods low in energy density. For instance, a handful of chips has far more calories than a handful of celery. By choosing foods low in energy density, such as fruits and vegetables, you eat fewer calories while still feeling full from eating.
Water content has a huge impact on the energy density of food. The more water food contains, the lower its energy density will be. Foods such as fruits and vegetables have a high water content and a low energy density. Conversely, processed foods such as crackers are more energy dense because they contain little to no water. In general, when choosing foods that promote weight control, opt for those with higher water content to reduce energy density while still providing essential nutrients and fiber.
In addition to following a diet that relies on foods with low energy density, exercise  is an important part of any successful weight loss journey. Exercise not only burns calories but also helps to increase muscle mass, which in turn boosts your metabolism.
Exercise augments the weight loss effects of a good diet by widening the gap between energy eaten and energy burned. Maintaining this gap, sometimes called the calorie deficit, is what is ultimately important to achieve your weight loss goals. There are many different exercise options; however, any form of exercise that gets your heart pumping and your body moving can be a powerful tool in your weight loss arsenal.
Dangers of Excess Weight
Excess weight causes stress and inflammation in the body, leading to an increased risk of developing a variety of health conditions . Avoiding excess weight is crucial for maintaining good health and preventing the health complications that increased weight can cause. While extra weight increases the risk of disease, taking steps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight can greatly reduce this risk and improve your overall quality of life.
Having excess weight creates hormonal changes and pressure on your kidneys that affects your body’s ability to control blood pressure. This leads to high blood pressure, called hypertension. Hypertension causes stress on the lining of your blood vessels, causing microscopic damage over time that increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
Excess weight can raise your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, contributing to the buildup of plaque in your arteries. As plaque develops, it can obstruct blood vessels in your heart, causing a heart attack as blood flow is suddenly unable to reach the muscle of your heart. In addition to heart attacks being overweight can also increase your risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions.
Being overweight increases your chances of developing metabolic syndrome . Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess belly fat, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. These factors combine to increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is almost always caused by excess weight.
Type 2 Diabetes
If you carry excess weight, your body may develop a resistance to insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels. Resistance to insulin creates type 2 diabetes, a condition where your blood sugar levels are consistently elevated. The constant elevation in blood sugar levels can lead to many long-term health problems, such as nerve damage, kidney disease, blindness, impotence, and other complications.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Excess weight can cause or worsen obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If you have OSA, your airway becomes blocked while you are sleeping sleep, causing you to wake up frequently throughout the night. Often, you will awaken without fully waking up and will be unaware that you woke up multiple times in the night. The result is that you feel like you slept throughout the night but don’t feel rested after sleeping. OSA can lead to hypertension, fatigue, irritability, and other complications.
Having excess weight creates stress and inflammation throughout the body. Both of these factors are thought to play a role in the development of cancer . Excess weight has been linked to increased risk for certain types of cancer, including breast, colon, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer, among others.
If you have excess weight, you are at greater risk for developing gallstones. These small deposits of bile form in your gallbladder, creating solid “stones.” This can irritate the gallbladder and block the duct that allows the gallbladder to empty bile, potentially causing pain, inflammation, infection, or other complications.
Weight from your body puts some amount of stress on your joints (particularly in your knees), hips, back, and ankles. When you have extra weight, the additional stress can lead to joint pain and inflammation. This increases your risk for osteoarthritis, a condition where the cartilage in your joints breaks down. Osteoarthritis can create chronic joint pain and problems moving your joints.
While extra weight on your joints can lead to conditions like osteoarthritis, it can also lead to chronic pain without causing additional diseases. The inflammation caused by excessive adipose tissue coupled with the stress and strain of extra pounds can cause muscle strain and joint pain, leading to chronic pain and making it more difficult to perform daily activities.
Obesity is linked to infertility  in both men and women. In addition, to affecting fertility at a biological level, being overweight can also make intercourse more difficult and less pleasurable, further increasing reproductive issues. Carrying excess weight during pregnancy can increase your risk for complications and negatively impact the development of your child.
Reduced Life Expectancy
Given the many different diseases that increased weight can create, it makes sense that obesity is associated with a decreased life expectancy. Those who carry unhealthy extra weight are at an increased risk of premature death from a variety of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Tips for Managing Your Weight
Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight  can seem daunting, but it is achievable. By making small changes to your everyday life and being consistent with implementing these changes, you can achieve your goal weight and maintain your new figure far into the future.
Changes don’t have to be huge; they just need to happen and be followed through on. We’ve provided you with a list of tips for managing your weight; however, don’t try to implement these all at once. By adopting one or two of these changes, sticking with them for a few weeks, then adding another and another slowly over time, you will see better success than if you tried to do them all at once.
Having realistic goals that are achievable, as well as a plan of action to reach them, is an important first step  in effective weight management. Without a clear target in mind, it can be easy to lose motivation and fall off track. Not only that, but it's difficult to see progress without clearly defined goals to measure against. Take some time to think about what you hope to achieve in your weight management journey, then write down a specific, measurable goal that you can achieve within a month or less and a long-term goal that you would ultimately like to achieve.
Eating a balanced diet is key to successful weight management. You should focus on eating lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates while minimizing processed foods and sugary desserts. It can also help to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day instead of three large meals, as this helps keep your metabolism running smoothly. By following a balanced diet, you will reduce your intake of high-calorie foods that add to your weight.
Low Energy Density Foods
Focus on finding foods that you enjoy that are lower in energy density, like fruits and vegetables. These foods contain fewer calories per gram than higher-energy density foods like chips or candy but still keep you feeling full longer.
Regular physical activity is a key part of increasing your calorie deficit. Aerobic exercises, like running, swimming, or bicycling, are especially beneficial for burning calories. The key to successfully starting and maintaining a good exercise routine over a prolonged period of time is to start small and gradually increase your exercise routine. Finding exercise that you enjoy more can also help.
Staying hydrated  throughout the day helps your body to function at a high level and can also help to curb hunger and cravings. Drinking water or other calorie-free beverages instead of soda or juice is an easy way to cut down on your calorie intake while still feeling full. Staying hydrated doesn’t just involve drinking more water but also includes avoiding dehydrating drinks like caffeinated or sugary beverages and dehydrating foods, like food high in salt.
Regularly Monitor Your Progress
Weighing yourself every day can help keep you on track with achieving your weight loss goals. Seeing the results of your hard work in tangible numbers can give you the motivation to stay on track and encourage you to continue making healthy choices. It is important to remember that the direction of change, not the amount of change, is what matters. Losing a pound a week may not sound exciting, but over time, this small change would result in losing over 50 pounds a year.
Get Good Sleep
Quality sleep is essential for weight loss. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces hunger-stimulating hormones like ghrelin, which can interfere with your ability to resist unhealthy foods and lead to overeating. Additionally, lack of sleep creates stress on the body, which causes the body to conserve energy in the form of weight to deal with the stress. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night in order to get the sleep you need.
Cut Out Sugary Drinks
One of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce calorie intake is to cut out sugary drinks  like soda, sweet tea, juice, and energy drinks. These calories add up quickly. Replacing them with zero-calorie alternatives like sparkling water or unsweetened tea can help you eliminate hundreds of calories each day.
Stress  is another factor that can lead to weight gain. When individuals are stressed, they often turn to unhealthy habits, like overeating, as a coping mechanism. Stress also pushes your body to conserve and store energy instead of burning it. To manage stress, it’s important to prioritize adequate sleep and engage in activities like yoga and meditation that allow you to relax your mind and body. Additionally, speaking with a therapist or counselor can help you learn healthier ways to cope with stress.
Stop Using Alcohol
Many alcoholic beverages contain empty calories that can really add up quickly if they’re consumed in excess. Furthermore, drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to dehydration and a slowed metabolism due to its diuretic effect. To avoid these issues, it’s best to limit your intake of alcohol or replace it with healthier alternatives such as sparkling water. Finally, if you feel like a drink is necessary, try to stick to low-calorie drinks or opt for an alcohol-free version of your favorite beverage.
Build a Support Network
It is important to have a strong support system in place throughout your journey. Consider speaking with close friends, family members, and colleagues who can provide encouragement when you need it most. Additionally, joining an online or real-life fitness community can help you find accountability partners and additional resources that may be useful on your path to better health.
Red Light Therapy For Weight Loss
Red light therapy is a newer technology that initially gained attention as a method of speeding up wound healing and reducing inflammation. Since it was first discovered by NASA researchers , red light therapy has gained popularity for many different uses. One of these is as a method of reducing fat and improving the appearance of cellulite.
Red light therapy actually uses both red light and near-infrared light. Specific wavelengths of this light are applied to the area requiring treatment. There is ongoing research into how red light therapy causes its effects; however, research suggests that the part of the cell responsible for energy  absorbs these wavelengths, stimulating increased energy and activity by the cells they reach.
While the effects of red light therapy are becoming increasingly understood, the mechanism behind what specifically causes weight loss when using red light therapy is the subject of debate. A 2013 literature review  published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine showed that while there are many hypotheses about how red light therapy reduces fat, there is no clear consensus on the subject. Many researchers seem to agree that it likely stimulates a signaling pathway in cells that destroys fat cells; however, how this works is still the subject of ongoing research.
Current State of Red Light Therapy Research for Weight Loss
While the exact details of how red light therapy reduces weight are not fully known, a wide body of research showing that it reduces weight exists. A variety of studies have shown that red light therapy can reduce fat in different areas of the body, including the legs, abdomen, and arms.
It is important to note that while red light therapy has been shown to reduce weight, research on the topic is still relatively early. These early studies are promising; however, there is still a need for large, robust clinical studies before red light therapy can be conclusively compared to weight loss treatments that are well-established.
It is also important to keep in mind that while red light therapy has been shown to be a potential weight loss tool, current research indicates that it is better used as a supportive tool to augment and accelerate other weight loss interventions like diet and exercise rather than used alone to reduce weight.
The Science Supporting Red Light Therapy for Weight Loss
Does red light therapy work for weight loss? Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of using red light therapy (often referred to as low-level laser therapy, or LLLT, in journal articles) as a weight loss tool.
- A study  published in 2012 in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology followed a randomized, double-blind study where people were given three weekly LLLT treatments on their arms for two weeks. Those in the control group showed almost no change, while those getting the treatment showed a combined reduction in arm circumference of 3.7cm.
- A 2012 study  published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine built on earlier research and used 689 participants. This study verified that LLLT reduced the circumference of the waist, hips, and thighs by an average of 3.27 inches after six weeks of treatment. The study also addressed a concern from previous studies, showing that the effects were due to a reduction of fat tissue, not to the redistribution of fluid or tissue.
- Another study,  published in Obesity Surgery, used testing that compared a test group and a control group that were specifically instructed not to change their diet or exercise habits. Following four weeks of treatment, the control group's abdominal girth was reduced by 2.15cm, almost an inch, while there was no meaningful change in the control group.
- A 2013 study  published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine studied 86 participants who had just finished receiving body contouring of the waist, hips, and thighs using only red light. The study found that the treatments resulted in an average circumference reduction of 3.0 inches.
- One of the earlier studies  into red light therapy for weight loss was published by Lasers in Surgery and Medicine in 2009. This study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study trial that examined circumference changes after two weeks of treatment. The study showed an overall reduction in total circumference across all three sites of 3.51 inches.
- Published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, a 2016 study  followed 54 patients from two private dermatology practices using red light therapy. The average decrease in combined circumference reduction at six weeks was 5.4 inches. 81% of the people receiving treatment reported that they were Satisfied (27%) or Very Satisfied (54%) with the aesthetic results of their treatments.
- A small study  in 2017 was published in the Journal of Lasers in Medical Sciences. This study followed 18 women using six weeks of LLLT and found that all 18 people experienced abdominal girth reduction following treatment.
- A recent study  in 2020 was published in Lasers in Medical Science and explored how treatments should be arranged. 60 participants considered overweight received treatment either 1) three times weekly for four weeks, 2) twice weekly for six weeks, or 3) once weekly for 12 weeks. The group that received two treatments weekly for six weeks showed the greatest change out of the three groups.
Red Light Therapy for Enhancing Sleep and Exercise
In addition to the effects red light therapy seems to have directly on weight reduction, it also promotes sleep duration and quality which can influence weight loss. Red light therapy also improves exercise performance and recovery, allowing you to exercise more efficiently and effectively while trying to lose weight.
There is a wide body of research supporting the effectiveness of using red light therapy to promote sleep. This research goes beyond the scope of this article; however, you can view our article on how red light therapy improves sleep to see a comprehensive overview of the research supporting this. We also have a comprehensive article on how red light therapy promotes muscle recovery that delves deep into the research supporting the use of red light therapy to enhance exercise.
While using red light therapy for better sleep or improved exercise performance is different than using it for weight loss, it still promotes aspects of your health that make losing weight easier. Ultimately, red light therapy can serve as a way to both supplement your weight loss endeavors and improve your overall health and well-being.
Mito Red Light
At Mito Red Light, we provide a wide variety of red light therapy products that are designed to deliver specific wavelengths of light thought to reduce weight and melt body fat. Our panels are designed to provide the maximum amount of the right light to as much area as possible and come in sizes that can provide full-body coverage or allow you to target specific areas.
Check our customer reviews page for red light therapy weight loss before and after anecdotes to see what else we might learn about this topic. Also, we invite you to review our selection of high-quality products or to contact one of our expert representatives at 1-866-861-6486(MITO).
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