As if dealing with acne isn’t frustrating enough, some people with acne scarring find that these scars can accentuate their wrinkles later in life.
In past posts, we’ve established that light therapy is a safe, effective way to treat wrinkles and acne individually. But what about light therapy for acne wrinkles? Today we’ll take a detailed look at acne and wrinkles individually, as well as the effectiveness of light therapy for acne wrinkles.
What Is Light Therapy?
Light therapy uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to shine specific wavelengths of light, such as red or blue, onto different parts of the body. It has been around in various forms since the late nineteenth century, but the current age of LED red light therapy began in the mid-1990s.
Red light therapy isolates red light wavelengths between 620–750 nanometers and shines them on the body with strong beneficial effects. For example, red light therapy increases blood flow to the skin and decreases inflammation. Cells in the body absorb red light and use it to create new energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Red light therapy is available at certain physicians’ offices and medical spas, but medical research and technological advancements have made this therapy more accessible and affordable in home-use devices as well.
One of the biggest appeals of red light therapy is that, when used appropriately, it is safe, well tolerated, and doesn’t cause the negative side effects that pharmaceuticals and other treatments may cause.
What Are Acne Wrinkles?
The inflammation from chronic acne causes pores to swell repeatedly, which can eventually lead to the breakdown of the pore and crater-like scarring of the skin. Acne wrinkles are fine lines that are accentuated by acne scarring. Skin thins as we age, and weakened skin tends to “cave in” on itself, particularly in areas affected by acne scars.
Some research suggests that acne may help delay the skin’s aging process. Regardless, once fine lines and wrinkles develop, acne scarring tends to accentuate their appearance.
Acne and Light Therapy
What Is Acne?
Acne (or acne vulgaris) is an extremely common skin condition caused by the bacteria P. acnes. Acne develops when this bacteria combines with dead skin cells and oil to clog hair follicles (pores) on the skin.
Acne most commonly erupts on the face, upper back, and chest, where the skin’s oil production is highest, but it can appear anywhere on the body. Severe or long-lasting acne can result in significant scarring, especially on the face.
Acne outbreaks tend to be the most intense during adolescence and early adulthood, with 85% of people between ages 12 and 24 dealing with acne. But many people suffer from acne as adults as well. In the United States alone, up to 50 million people suffer from acne each year.
Red Light Therapy for Acne
Red light therapy works on and below the surface of the skin, helping to reduce inflammation, repair damaged tissues, and rejuvenate the skin. Light therapy can help decrease the healing time of acne outbreaks as well as the appearance of existing facial scars. Evidence also shows that red light therapy can reduce the skin’s oil production, which can help prevent future breakouts.
Researchers have conducted numerous studies on the efficacy of red light therapy for acne, and they continue to publish results on an ongoing basis. In general, they report that red light therapy is both safe and effective for treating acne.
Combination Red and Blue Light Therapy for Acne
Blue light therapy used in combination with red light therapy for acne has also been shown to be safe and effective. This therapy focuses especially on killing the P. acnes bacteria involved in acne development.
One study evaluated the effectiveness of combination blue and red light therapy on facial acne. Participants in the study self-administered light therapy with a handheld LED device over the course of four weeks. By eight weeks after their last light therapy treatment, patients experienced an almost 70% reduction in inflammatory acne.
Another study showed that combined blue and red light therapy can reduce both inflammatory and noninflammatory acne. Patients again used a handheld light therapy device with both blue and red light therapy for four weeks. After 12 weeks, incidence of inflammatory acne had decreased by 77% and noninflammatory acne decreased by 54%.
Wrinkles and Light Therapy
What Are Wrinkles?
Wrinkles are lines and creases that develop as part of the skin’s aging process.
As people age, their skin’s elasticity and moisture decrease. Instead of springing back into place, skin begins to line and crease. Fat under the skin naturally decreases with age as well, which reduces skin support and can cause skin to sag. This sagging increases the appearance of lines and especially creases.
The outer layer of skin also thins, resulting in a more transparent and fragile look and making the skin more susceptible to injury.
Light Therapy for Wrinkles
Red light therapy improves blood flow to the skin, causing the face to look healthier and more vibrant. Red light also stimulates the production of collagen proteins in the skin, helping to smooth the skin, plump the face, and reduce the visibility of wrinkles.
One controlled clinical trial used red and near-infrared (NIR) light to treat subjects. The participants experienced significantly improved complexion, greater collagen density, and increased smoothness. Besides these objective results, the before and after photos that accompany the study show noticeable improvement.
Many other studies have verified this result: light therapy rejuvenates, softens, and improves the overall appearance of skin. We are planning a page dedicated to light therapy for wrinkles soon. But in the meantime, you can learn more in our article about light therapy for aging.
Light Therapy for Acne Wrinkles
At this point, no studies exist specifically on red light therapy for acne wrinkles. More light therapy studies are emerging all the time, however, so we hope it will only be a short time before these studies exist.
In the meantime, it’s encouraging to know that light therapy can treat both acne and wrinkles individually, and that it’s not unreasonable to hope for positive results from research on red light therapy for acne wrinkles in the near future.