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Helen Torok, M.D., is the Medical Director of Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery in Medina, Ohio.
LED (LIGHT EMITTING DIODE) THERAPY is said to increase blood flow, decrease inflammation, stimulate collagen production and decrease the production of bacteria. FDA-approved LED therapy is non-invasive and non-abrasive, offering a safe, gentle and painless way to treat a variety of skin conditions. Here's how it works: Light interacts with cells to accelerate naturally occurring processes, such as collagen production. LED devices emit light in a range of frequencies that give it a specific color, in this case red or blue. Red light, which has a wavelength of about 630 nanometers (nm), is used to rejuvenate skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles associated with age and exposure to the sun. Blue light, with a wavelength of about 415 nm, targets the sebaceous glands, killing the bacteria that causes acne. However, light therapy is NOT for everyone. If you are pregnant, have epilepsy, or a photosensitive condition such as Lupus, or are on any photosensitizing medications, LED therapy is not for you.

DOES LIGHT HAVE LIMITATIONS? As exciting as this technology is, it's important to be aware of what at-home LED therapy can and can't do. Today's at-home LED technology will not get rid of the deep wrinkles, as does ablative laser technology; nor can it tighten skin like surgery. It can, however, reduce the appearance of fine lines, even discolorations of the skin, plump the skin and lessen redness using wavelengths in the neighborhood of 600 nm to 1200 nm. Because these devices have low power, they have to be used regularly and for an extended period of time to see improvement. Results are gradual and minimal.

STILL, MANY DOCTORS RECOMMEND home LED therapy for use before and after surgery. But, as with any new technology, it's imperative to do your homework. Know exactly what the product is being marketed for and understand manufacturer claims. Find out what's credible and what's not by asking your dermatologist or surgeon about which devices have been proven clinically effective.

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