If you’re one of the millions of Americans with acne scars on your face, you know how distressing it can be. Red light for acne scars is scientifically supported and is now available as at-home therapy.
Red light therapy is the use of low-level red and infrared light to stimulate cellular processes that reduce the thickness and pigment of acne scars. Also known as “photobiomodulation,” this use of red light for acne scars has been clinically proven to reduce the depth and severity of acne scars on your skin. This article will explain the science behind using red light therapy for this purpose.
If you want the nitty gritty science of how acne scars form, see my article The A to Z Guide to Acne Scars: Get Clear Skin Today
Facial acne scars cause mental and physical distress. You have a few therapies you can u se at home, including red light therapy, and topical gels and creams. At the doctor’s, you can try injectable fillers and laser resurfacing to reduce acne scars.
Red light therapy reduces facial acne scars because it promotes cell turnover, and collagen production while reducing inflammation.
The use of this at-home therapy to reduce acne scars is proven to relieve not only the skin issues but also the emotional distress they cause.
Emotional Distress of Facial Acne Scars
Acne scars on the face can have a profound emotional impact on those who suffer from them. Acne scars are a common skin condition. Persistent acne can cause acne scars.
The scars themselves can take on many forms. They can appear as deep pits, raised marks, or discolored areas of the skin.
The treatment of acne scars can be challenging, and the emotional distress caused by these scars can be significant. The appearance of acne scars can cause individuals to feel self-conscious and experience feelings of low self-esteem.
One might feel embarrassed about his or her appearance. The embarrassment can cause social anxiety. A person with acne scars might avoid social situations and relationships.
The emotional distress caused by acne scars can affect people of all ages and can have a long-lasting effect on mental health and well-being.
Physical Discomfort of Acne Scars
In addition to the emotional impact, acne scars can cause physical discomfort.
Raised scars can be itchy or painful. Deep pits make it difficult to apply makeup or shave.
The appearance of acne scars can also lead to skin irritation and inflammation, which can exacerbate existing acne or other skin conditions.
Acne Scar Treatment Options
Acne scars can be frustrating and difficult to treat, but there are a variety of options available to reduce their appearance. Options include:
- topical creams and gels
- injectable fillers
- laser resurfacing
- red light therapy
Topical Creams and Gels for Facial Acne Scars
One treatment option for acne scars is topical creams and gels. These treatments work by exfoliating the skin and encouraging cell turnover. Cell turnover stimulates collagen production, which can help reduce the appearance of scars.
Topical creams and gels may contain ingredients like retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, and vitamin C. It is important to note that these treatments may take several weeks or even months to show results.
Injectable Fillers for Facial Acne Scars
Another option for reducing acne scars is through injectable fillers. These treatments involve injecting a substance into the skin. The treatment fills in depressed scars and makes the skin appear smoother.
Common fillers used for acne scars include hyaluronic acid and collagen. While this treatment is non-invasive and can be done quickly, the effects are temporary and will need to be repeated over time.
Laser Resurfacing for Facial Acne Scars
A more invasive option for treating acne scars is laser therapy. Do not confuse laser therapy with red light therapy. Even “red light therapy” done with lasers is not “laser therapy.”
The confusion comes from the low-energy delivery of light in red light therapy, and the high-energy delivery of light in laser therapy. Red light therapy is non-invasive and does not resurface the skin.
Laser treatments work by removing the top layer of skin and promoting collagen production. This can help reduce the appearance of acne scars and give the skin a smoother texture. However, laser therapy may not be suitable for all skin types and may require several sessions to achieve desired results.
Red Light Therapy Acne Scar Treatment
Red light therapy has been shown to be effective in improving the appearance of acne scars on the face.
Red light therapy is non-invasive and has no side effects. Home therapy devices work well, and you do not need doctor visits or a prescription.
How Red Light Therapy Reduces Facial Acne Scars
The most important effect of red light therapy for facial scars is the triggering of collagen.
Red light therapy promotes collagen and reduces inflammation. It does not cover up or fill in scars. It changes the skin to reduce its surface area.
Red light therapy promotes cell turnover. Old skin cells die off, and new skin cells rejuvenate the face.
Because red light therapy improves facial appearance, it also alleviates the emotional and physical distress that it can cause.
Red Light Therapy Effects are Permanent
Facial scar treatment with red light therapy can significantly reduce acne scar depth, texture, and surface area. As a bonus, red light therapy reduces fine lines and wrinkles while it reduces acne scars.
The effects are long-lasting (permanent) because it promotes the body’s own healing abilities to work.
Plus, red light therapy improves skin quality and tone. The reduction in inflammation reduces redness and swelling. Collagen production is accompanied by elastin production which produces fresh, tight skin.
Acne Scar Reduction Science
Red light therapy (called “photobiomodulation” in science) is a noninvasive, low-energy delivery of light that encourages skin cells to repair themselves.
Red light therapy (RLT) also causes wounds to heal faster. Some of the same biological processes that help with wounds are what allow the therapy to reduce scars.
RLT uses LED or laser (most home devices are LED) lights that emit light in the red and infrared ranges. Certain wavelengths of light in these ranges penetrate into the skin at a cellular level.
One of the effects is to open blood vessels, allowing nutrition and oxygen to come to the skin.
Another is to trigger the shutdown of chronic inflammation.
Another action of RLT is to stimulate stem cells, which become new skin cells on the face.
RLT triggers collagen production. This rejuvenates the face and naturally fills in acne scars.
What Type of Device to Use for Facial Scars?
You can use a panel or a handheld for RLT facial scar reduction.
Panels come in tabletop, half-body, and full-body sizes. They sit on a table or the floor (or hang from the ceiling or a door).
Handheld devices require you to hold them to your face in various spots. In exchange for the extra work you do, the handheld wands are usually cheaper than even the smallest panels.
To see my favorite panels, go to the guide: Buyer’;s Guide: Best Red Light Therapy Panel
Red Light Therapy Safety
Thankfully, red light therapy can effectively treat acne scars without side effects. Unlike other types of light like UVA and UVB rays, red light does not damage skin tissue nor cause burning or blistering.
However, some people should avoid light therapy of all kinds.
- People with epilepsy should avoid pulsation red light therapy. The pulsing flickers the light, which can be dangerous for epileptics
- People with facial burns should not do self-treatment with RLT, but a dermatologist can advise exactly what to do.
- People with facial tattoos should not use RLT unless their dermatologist says it’s OK. Tattoos absorb red and infrared light and therefore will heat with exposure.
- People on photosensitive medications should check with their doctor before using RLT. These are medications that include advisories not to get sun exposure while taking the medicine. The sun’s rays include a significant amount of infrared, the same wavelengths as used in RLT.