Red light therapy offers numerous benefits, from improving skin conditions to alleviating chronic pain.
Although a single session of photobiomodulation therapy, or red light therapy, offers benefits, typically, it requires several sessions to have a long-lasting impact on your health.
How often should you use red light therapy?
The short answer is that it depends.
Your health status and the condition you are being treated influence how many sessions you will need. For example, for improving general skin health, several studies have found that results are possible in as little as three weeks.
For more chronic conditions, like moderate acne, up to 8 weeks of red light therapy may be needed to achieve results.
The average time of a red light therapy session is also important. Those who can commit to 20-minute sessions multiple times per week will see results faster than those who might only be able to squeeze in two 10-minute sessions. This guide provides an overview to help you better understand how many RL therapy sessions you may need.
How Many Red Light Therapy Sessions? Key Factors
Various factors influence the duration of your red light therapy (RLT) treatments. Ultimately, these factors direct your red light therapy treatment plan.
For example, the device type and the red light wavelengths it uses can influence how often you should use RLT. Additionally, your condition and intent may require fewer sessions per week or more.
Here are some factors that can influence the duration of red light therapy treatments:
1. Device Type
The effectiveness of this therapy mainly depends on how powerful and efficient your device is. Whole-body red light therapy beds, for example, deliver more red light at proper frequencies, while PBM light therapy pads direct energy to a specific area. Some key device factors include:
a. Wavelength and Intensity
Red light therapy emits rays to influence healing. For effective results, it is essential to have a recommended range of 630 to 700 nanometers (nm). The most common wavelength is 660 nm.
RLT devices come in different sizes depending on the area of treatment. There are full-body devices, large body-panel lamps, and small area pads and mats.
2. Course of Treatment
Are you using RLT for relaxation? Or do you want to treat a specific condition?
Generally, how long you should use RLT is typically dependent on this. Your treatment goal can affect the duration of sessions and how often/long you use red light therapy weekly.
For example, each RLT session lasts for 20 minutes. Targeting an acute illness you might start with 3-8 sessions. But for a chronic illness, you might start with 3 red light sessions per week for a longer duration.
3. Tolerance Level
Some may find red light slightly irritating to the eyes and skin. These effects are temporary. Red light therapy is a safe, non-invasive therapy. However, you should tune the duration of a treatment plan to individual skin types and response.
After your first session, take note of how you (or your patient feels). If the skin is irritated, try shorter or less-frequent sessions.
4. Treatment Type and Schedule
Localized treatments may require shorter durations compared to full-body sessions.
If you don’t have the time for 20-minute sessions 3 to 5 times per week, that’s OK. Several studies have shown that red light therapy is beneficial, even if administered for only a few minutes at a time.
5. Individual Health and Goals
How your body responds to treatment may vary. Therefore, take note of your goals, and adjust how frequently you use red light therapy based on results.
If you’re using red light therapy to improve mood, see how you feel after the first week of treatment. You may start to feel improved after a single session or require longer treatment.
6. Consistency & Patience is Very Important
It might take some time to start noticing results; therefore, it is essential to stick with it. Users usually see improvements after 3 to 5 weeks of therapy.
7. Professional Guidance
Get a personalized recommendation from your healthcare provider. This can help you develop a plan that’s based on your needs. Also, always seek guidance, if you have pre-existing conditions.
Red Light Therapy Frequency
How Long Do Red Light Therapy Sessions Last?
The length of a red light therapy session differs; there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The session duration is typically based on the type of device used, the condition being treated, the severity of existing skin conditions, sensitivity to light, and individual health status.
However, there are some general guidelines:
- Red light therapy sessions typically last 5-20 minutes.
- Light therapy is recommended 3-5 times per week.
- Many people have experienced results with a 15-minute session, 3-5 times per week.
- For at-home devices, a shorter duration of between 5 and 15 minutes is recommended.
- Try a shorter session (up to 10 minutes) as you start therapy. If you experience no side effects, you can increase the duration to 20 minutes.
A rule of thumb: Consult with your healthcare provider or device manufacturer before beginning therapy. Overdoing red light therapy may not lead to faster results; in some cases, it can cause skin discomfort.
Learn More. See our guide for what to expect during RLT for a closer look at how these sessions work.
How Long Does Red Light Therapy Take to Work?
Although some users experience results after 1-2 sessions, it’s more common to notice gradual health benefits. According to research, you may experience improvements in as little as three weeks:
A small study of 28 participants found that 20-minute red light therapy sessions used three times a week for three weeks showed improvements in skin health. After the three-week trial, participants experienced reduced fine lines, wrinkles and softer, smoother skin.
Ultimately, the number of sessions required to show results depends on the condition treated.
A study looking at PBM therapy’s effect on mild to moderate acne, for example, found a significant reduction in acne lesions following 10 weeks of treatment. Participants were treated twice weekly during the trial, with red and infrared light, with the lower frequency red light delivering the best results.
Another study found that twice-weekly sessions for 15 weeks improved complexion, tighter skin, and collagen density.
Treatment may also be dependent on lifestyle factors. For example, red light therapy for athletic recovery requires users to bathe in red light after each exercise session for up to 10 to 20 minutes. At the same time, you can manage pain with red light with twice-daily sessions, if necessary, for up to 15 minutes.
Generally, at least 2-3 sessions per week are recommended, up to 5 sessions. Best results tend to be experienced between 4 and 8 weeks. However, results may be temporary; follow-up maintenance sessions may be required for long-term sustainability.
In some cases, a single red light therapy session can help. For example, in studies exploring red light therapy’s effect on mood, a single session helped reduce symptoms of SAD.
How Does It Work?
Ultimately, it’s believed that red light therapy helps to restore cellular function.
When our cells are out of balance, more free radicals are produced. This results in a condition called oxidative stress. Research suggests that photobiomodulation therapy and red light therapy help to reverse oxidative stress.
Additionally, red light therapy stimulates the production of ATP, which is used as energy by cells. This can stimulate a variety of beneficial actions like cellular repair, wound healing and more.
Can You Do Too Much Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy (RLT) is generally considered safe. There are only a few recorded side effects. But it is essential not to overdo RLT as there may be potential adverse effects. For example, exertion and body pain.
Moreover, it’s essential to comply with the recommended guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional for a safe and effective experience.
Here are some considerations that influence too much of red light therapy:
1. Recommended Manufacturer’s Guidelines
Start by carefully reading and following the guidelines from the RLT device manufacturer. They usually mention how long a session should be based on the device’s specs.
2. Individual Variations
How you respond to red light therapy might be different from others. It is important first to take a trial session and understand your body’s tolerance levels. Some people have a more sensitive skin type, so be careful and observe your body’s response during the session.
3. Potential Side Effects
Prolonged or excessive exposure may cause adverse reactions. Potential side effects include skin burns, tissue or cell damage, or eyesight-related problems. Monitor any changes in the skin, such as rashes and redness, and look for any signs of adverse reactions.
4. Specific Health Conditions
Check whether your health conditions are suitable for the RLT sessions. Certain health conditions should avoid red light therapy, such as:
- Those with photosensitivity and light-sensitive disorders
- Having any pre-existing skin conditions
- Red light therapy during pregnancy
- Illnesses such as diabetes
To avoid side effects or long-term health conditions, consult your healthcare professionals before initiating red light therapy.
5. Consultation with Healthcare Professionals
Before implementing a red light therapy regimen, especially if considering regular or prolonged sessions, it is advisable to consult with healthcare professionals or experts familiar with the individual’s health status.
Red Light Therapy: Convenient At-Home Treatment
Red light therapy (RLT) has become increasingly popular as a convenient at-home treatment. It offers individuals the flexibility to tailor and personalize their healing experiences. Here’s a closer at some of the benefits of at-home red light therapy:
1. Affordable and Accessible Devices
You can find a variety of affordable and user-friendly red light therapy devices designed for home use. These devices range from handheld devices to larger panels, thus making them accessible to a broader audience.
2. Treatment Plans as Per Your Schedule
At-home RLT devices offer personalized schedules, and you can create treatment plans based on your specific needs and routine. You can take sessions for a targeted area or overall body health and customize how frequently you use RLT.
3. Target Therapies
These localized RLT at-home devices make it easier for individuals to focus on targeted areas, such as joint pain, skin disorder, or muscle recovery.
4. Privacy and Comfort
At-home red light therapy offers a private and comfortable environment. Individuals can conduct sessions without worrying about appointments, attire, and nervousness. It provides a relaxing and positive experience.
5. Safety and User-Friendly Features
Always opt for at-home RLT devices with built-in safety features like timers and intensity controls. Read the manual and have a consultation session with your healthcare provider before taking a session.
6. Cost-Effective Solution
Yes, the device has a heavy up-front cost but is a long-term investment. Instead of paying for multiple sessions and in-clinic treatments, at-home devices offer one-time payment. Thus, making this a cost-effective approach.
Get Started with Red Light Therapy
The best time to start PBM therapy is now. The sooner you try it, the sooner your body will begin to experience the numerous health benefits of red light therapy. Want to get started? Hue Light USA is a leader in red light therapy devices. We offer:
Have any questions? Contact Hue Light today to learn more about our state-of-the-art red light therapy devices.