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The lowdown on LED devices

Article-The lowdown on LED devices

Researchers reported in a study published February 1, 2018, in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology that phototherapy with light emitting diodes (LEDs) can benefit patients with several medical and aesthetic skin conditions — from wounds to aging skin. But while the devices used in physician practices have been associated with a broad range of positive outcomes, home-use devices are different. The authors write that home-use devices deliver much less power “and typically do not have light panel arrays large enough to treat the entire face at once, for example.”

The devices showing the best outcomes, according to the authors, are LEDs with frequencies of 415nm (blue), 633nm (red) and 830nm (infrared).

“In contrast with the medical LED units and their protocols, home use devices have not been validated by controlled clinical studies published in peer-reviewed journals. In some cases, home units may be used adjunctively with dermatologist-provided treatment to address specific areas of concern, but they are dissimilar enough from the medical-grade units to not be considered an alternative to these tested technologies,” they write.

Dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon practicing in Omaha, Neb., Joel Schlessinger, M.D., says he recommends at-home devices as an adjunct to acne treatment and to complement facial rejuvenation regimens. 

“There are many different varieties of light now that are available for skin care devices both in the office and at home. Predominately red light and blue light are the ones that we continue to utilize,” he says. “Blue light devices are generally most effective for acne but they are also currently being looked at for other indications including antiaging. Red light devices have always been the antiaging and calming devices, but these also have some other indications for wound healing and pigmentation.”

He says blue light at-home LED devices are particularly helpful for acne patients who are either uninterested or unable to take standard treatments such as antibiotics or hormonal treatments.

“While these devices aren’t a homerun, they generally do have some benefits for these conditions,” Dr. Schlessinger says.

The jury is out on how effective these devices are for skin aging concerns, but there’s promise and growing consumer demand for devices they can use at home, according to Dr. Schlessinger.
“I think the at-home technologies will be more mainstream for a lot of conditions. It’s a nascent field and we’re still trying to get the full research picture finished, but I’m encouraged that there’s quite a bit of research being done in it,” he says.

For now, Dr. Schlessinger’s top picks that he recommends to patients for at-home use are Quasar MD brand LED devices, as well as NuFace’s red light device, which is on the company’s Trinity unit.

“It all comes down to how many LED sensors there are. The more LED sensors the more likely a device is to succeed,” he says.

Dr. Schlessinger says some are questioning the safety of blue light but more research is needed to draw conclusions about whether blue light is good, bad or somewhere in between. Researchers suggest blue light might be healthy during the day but not so much at night, impacting things like quality of sleep and even causing disease, according to a Harvard Health Letter updated August 13, 2018.