Explaining Red Light Therapy: Scars Removal and Prevention

Posted July 21, 2022

“Scars show that you went through something hard, and you survived,” said Christina Applegate on her Netflix series Dead to Me. However, unlike Applegate’s character, whose scars are from a mastectomy, most of our scratches and scrapes are from tripping over rocks, falling off bikes, or scratching a bug bite to the point of wounding ourselves. Whatever the cause, if you have scars that won’t go away, red light therapy could be exactly what you need.

Red light therapy (RLT), also known as low-level light therapy (LLLT) and photobiomodulation, is a treatment that uses low wavelength red and/or near infrared light to improve the appearance of skin. Specifically, it may help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and redness. This therapeutic technique may also help the healing process of scars, wounds, burns, acne, keloids, and surgical incisions.

RLT has many other uses. In today’s writing, we will focus on the potential scar-fading benefits of LED red lights.


How Red Light Therapy May Help Scars Heal

Using red light is a unique approach for scars. Instead of minimizing their appearance, red light utilizes specific wavelengths of light (from 630 to 850 nanometers) to penetrate tissue and support the healing process at the cellular level. 

Our cells respond positively to red and near infrared light waves. We can compare this response to how plant cells react to sunlight: moderate exposure produces energy and optimizes cell function, which then prompts the body's self-healing processes.


Studies on Effective Red Light Therapy for Surgical Scars and More

According to extensive studies and articles published in the National Library of Medicine, red light therapy heals scars through the following.

  1. Better circulation

Poor or impaired vascular flow disrupts the healing process of damaged skin. Red light therapy, fortunately, helps accelerate the production of endothelial cells. These wafer-like building blocks make up the blood and lymph capillaries near the skin’s surface.

In correlation, according to a 2017 analysis from the Medical College of Wisconsin, exposure to a specific form of red light also increases vessel diameter (vasodilation), which promotes good circulation.

Since increasing blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to a wound and increasing lymph flow eliminates waste that could lead to an infection, the vasodilating effect of LED red light therapy enhances the healing process of wounds. Plus, the treatment prevents long-term complications from scar tissue formation.

  1. Stimulating cellular energy production and targeting inflammation

A 2013 study that Harvard researcher and acclaimed photobiomodulation specialist Michael Hamblin co-authored concluded that red light therapy activates cellular energy generation and relieves inflammation. In layman’s terms, RLT helps to repair and regenerate damaged tissue in the body. This combination of effects enables healing with minimal scarring and reduces the appearance of existing scars.

  1. Stem cell activation

Stem cells can develop into different cells in the body. Adult stem cells are a specific type that fully developed tissues, such as the skin, produce. These cells can adopt the attributes of their neighboring cells, later becoming the cells that make up the skin.

When a gash or wound appears following an injury, stem cells can become normal, healthy skin cells with contrasting genetic makeup from scar cells. Skin (dermal) stem cells are active during skin renewal and repair, the former being a constant process.

Aside from the 2013 study mentioned earlier, the findings of a 2020 study also suggest that red light therapy is a powerful tool for tissue engineering and cell therapy.


How Red Light Therapy May Help Prevent Scar Formation

As stated in our previous article, red light therapy offers many skin rejuvenation benefits. The treatment reduces fine lines and wrinkles, evens out the complexion, and diminishes sunspots and other signs of sun damage. The same internal workings that make skin look young and radiant apply to the prevention of scars.

Allow us to explain the science behind the above statement.

Collagen plays a significant role in the development of scars. As such, it may seem untenable to use red light therapy to enhance collagen production. However, collagen density is not to blame. What’s responsible for scar formation is the way collagen assembles after an injury is responsible for scar formation.

Skin renewal occurs throughout life. The process involves fibroblasts creating an organized lattice of collagen and elastin proteins, which are the structure that maintains the elasticity and firmness of the skin. The resilience of the latticework allows the skin to stretch and move without uncomfortable restraint. Following surgery or any incident that punctures the skin, a healthy person’s body switches into an emergency fight-or-flight mode. Among the immune system’s primary healing responses is to seal the wound immediately. How the wound looks afterward is not a priority.

Rather than an organized latticework, the collagen forms as side-by-side bands similar to bridges built in haste to close a gap. This structure is weaker compared to the normal latticework of skin. Moreover, this network does not contain elastin, meaning it cannot stretch or move with ease. This explains why scars on joints are inflexible to the point of causing pain when moving.

The new tissue grows thicker to compensate for the fragile structure of scar tissue and to provide the body with more protection. The result? A visible scar.

Red light therapy is a safe and non-invasive therapeutic technique that could prevent scars by stimulating normal fibroblast growth and collagen synthesis.

Time Needed to See Visible Results

After “does red light therapy help scars?,” another one of our most commonly asked questions is “when will I see notable results?”

The answer depends on how long you’ve had the scar. The older a scar is, the more difficult it is to treat. Other factors include the size and depth of the scar.

Frequency and consistency of treatment are important to achieving your desired outcome. In general, results are visible after two to three months. Check out our FAQs page to learn how to use and reap the most benefits from a red light therapy device.

Find the Right Light Therapy Device for You

For the best possible outcome, use a high-powered, high-quality LED red light device like the ones available in our collection. Mito Red Light’s products deliver the output necessary to effectively penetrate skin and stimulate cell regeneration. Shop our red lights now or contact us for more information on the red light therapy devices we provide.