Using Red Light Therapy to Support Wound Healing

Using Red Light Therapy to Support Wound Healing

Our body’s ability to repair itself is truly fascinating. However, sometimes, this process may get delayed or suppressed, putting you at a greater risk of infection and prolonged pain. 

Red light therapy is a safe and effective way to support wound healing and speed your body's recovery. In this article, we discuss the power of red light therapy and its ability to hasten wound healing and alleviate pain through different mechanisms. 

But before proceeding, let’s briefly talk about your body’s natural response to an injury.

How Do Wounds Heal?

The skin is the primary barrier between the body and the external environment. When this line of defense gets damaged, either by a cut, scratch, or puncture, it produces a wound on the surface. Skin wounds may range from minor scrapes to lacerations and, in severe cases, may lead to internal injuries that may directly damage the nerves, blood vessels, and other vital organs. 

The immune system goes into action as soon as the wound is inflicted and begins the mechanism to seal the open site, protecting it from invading pathogens. 

The body's biological healing process can be divided into four primary phases: 

  1. Hemostasis Phase: The first stage of the process starts immediately after the injury and takes only a few hours. The objective of the hemostasis phase is to stop excessive bleeding. To do so, your body's clotting mechanism is activated, which leads to clot formation, preventing the loss of too much blood from the wound.
  2. Inflammatory Phase: The inflammatory phase starts within the next 24 hours and works by sending white blood cells toward the affected area to kill any bacteria that might have entered during the injury. As a result, you might experience pain, swelling, heating, or redness near the wound.
  3. Proliferative Phase: After the completion of the inflammation phase, your body starts working on closing the wound. The main stages of this process include scab formation, the transfer of epithelial cells to resurface the wound, and the formation of new blood vessels.
  4. Remodeling Phase: In the last stage of the healing process, the body strengthens the newly formed skin and tries blending it with the surrounding area. This phase can last anywhere from a few days up to months or years, depending on the severity of the injury —some wounds never wholly blend in with the skin and leave permanent scars.

Impediments to Wound Healing

Are you tired of constantly treating your wounds but seeing no results? If so, you are not alone. Various reasons can hamper the healing process, such as:

  • Chronic Stress: Heavy mental and emotional stress releases cortisol, which can cause immune system suppression and affect your body's defense.
  • Inadequate Circulation: Lack of oxygen or nutrients in the inflicted area and possible interference with the lymph flow responsible for clearing out toxins from the wounded area can hamper wound recovery.
  • Poor Lifestyle Choices: Consumption of alcohol, drugs, smoking, and other harmful substances.
  • Medications: The use of corticosteroids, chemotherapy medicines, and radiation surgeries can impede the functionality and performance of the regenerative cells.

How Can Red Light Therapy Support Wound Healing?

Also known as photobiomodulation, red light therapy is a therapeutic technique that utilizes low-level wavelengths of red light to treat skin conditions.

It can successfully speed up wound recovery, credited to its beneficial properties when directed at any of the four healing stages. 

The treatment works at a cellular level by using red and near-infrared rays (NIR) to stimulate biochemical responses in your body. The light is radiated around the injury site and absorbed by the damaged tissues. 

The exposure to high radiance light activates the cytochrome c enzyme, which in turn activates the mitochondria by promoting electron transfer into the cell. This ultimately results in increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our body's currency unit that fuels nearly all activities. The raised ATP levels help the cells perform better, leading to an accelerated wound rejuvenating and repairing process. 

Here are some evidence-backed examples of how the red light treatment can help aid the topical damage on the human body:

Activates Stem Cells

At the time of the final remodeling phase of the healing cycle, stem cells travel to the affected area, where they then differentiate into the type of cell required to aid the healing process. 

Low-wavelength light activates the stem cells in the bone marrow and deploys them in the direction of the injury. These healthy cells communicate proficiently with the neighboring cells and ensure that the right signals are sent to the emerging cells, a problem that is otherwise prevalent when using damaged cells for communication.

Improves Collagen Production

Collagen is the protein that's responsible for providing structure to the skin. It's also found in connective tissues and muscles. The protein acts as a kind of latticework during the healing of injuries, where it stitches the skin back together.

Our body absorbs the specific wavelengths directed at it, increases collagen synthesis, and decreases collagen degradation. More collagen production means the skin is better equipped to remain intact, fading away scars, incisions, and even wrinkles and fine lines.

Promotes Blood Circulation

Adequate blood circulation is vital for a steady healing cycle. Exposure to red light releases nitric oxide, the body's natural vasodilator, that promotes blood flow in the vessels. The improved circulation allows for easier access of wound-healing elements to the site, as well as removal of debris, waste, and pathogens.

Red Light Therapy and Inflammation

As discussed above, inflammation is a necessary aspect of wound healing. It's crucial in stopping bleeding and neutralizing and destroying toxic, infection-causing agents. It's often accompanied by pain and discomfort and is followed by the proliferative phase.

Studies show that red light therapy can speed up this switch of phases by triggering changes in macrophages at the affected site.

Macrophages belong to a special class of immune cells responsible for detecting, engulfing, and destroying toxic agents and pathogens. They have two phenotypes, M1 and M2. The role of M1 is to trigger an inflammatory response, while M2 macrophages direct the regenerative and remodeling action. Red light therapy has been shown to promote the conversion of M1 to M2, thereby reducing inflammation and facilitating the repair process.

Application of Red Light Therapy to Treat Scars, Burns, Wounds, and Injuries

Red light therapy is a safe, natural, and non-invasive method that is versatile enough to be used for various kinds of skin wounds.

Cuts, Scrapes, and Incisions

Compelling evidence underscores the efficacy of red light therapy in treating scrapes and surgical incisions. It promotes cell proliferation, resulting in the contraction of these cuts and faster recovery.

Raised and Visible Scars

Studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between photobiomodulation and its ability to reduce scarification.

Red light therapy modulates collagen formation and organization so that instead of arranging in a side-by-side fashion, an organized latticework network is developed. This helps create healthy skin rather than permanent, visible scars.

Second and Third-Degree Burns

The effectiveness of red light therapy in treating burns has been documented in many clinical trials. The light triggers TGF-beta1, which stimulates macrophages (immune cells that alleviate inflammation and clean cell debris) and fibroblasts (the main tissue repairing cells of the body), leading to the closure of the burn wound over a period of a few days.

How to Use Red Light Therapy for Wound Healing

Your priority with all types of acute and chronic wounds should be to get them first checked by a healthcare professional. You should only use red light therapy on minor injuries using a reliable device and keep the following points in mind:

  • The treatment needs to be done several times weekly until the wound has been fully closed and healed. Start with smaller sessions and gradually increase their duration and frequency as your body gets accustomed to the concentrated rays. 
  • Don’t rely entirely on the light therapy treatment, but instead, get a good quality of sleep and maintain a healthy diet for optimal results.
  • Ensure that your chosen red light therapy device has a high irradiance for easy penetration into the inner skin tissue.
  • A combination of red and near-infrared rays works best for healing surface and deep skin wounds. The red light covers the outer layers, whereas NIR absorbs into the lower levels for deep tissue restoration. 

Faster, Pain-Free Recovery With Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a safe and convenient method to speed up the wound healing process in your body. From treating post-surgery cuts to severe wounds and burns, this mode of therapy accelerates tissue repair while bringing various other advantages to your body.

So, what's the wait? Light up your life with Hooga devices and reap the multiple benefits of red light therapy right from the comfort of your home.

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