Does Red Light Therapy Tighten Loose Skin?

Sagging skin can be frustrating to have, and it can have an impact on one’s self-esteem. Skin starts to loosen when the structural support of the skin, collagen, decreases over time. The decrease in collagen causes wrinkles and loss of volume. This is where red light therapy comes in.

In this article, we’ll provide a detailed explanation of how red light therapy for skin tightening can be the answer to more youthful skin. But first…

What Causes Loose Skin?

Sagging skin can appear anywhere on the body. The most common areas are the face, neck, back of the upper arm (tricep), and abdomen.

There are many factors involved in the loss of skin tone and elasticity. Some potential causes include:

  • Weight loss
  • Pregnancy
  • Aging
  • Loss of Muscle Mass
  • Sun exposure
  • Smoking
  • Heavy Drinking
  • Illness or Disease
  • Hereditary causes
  • Diet
  • Chronic Dehydration
  • Reduced Collagen Production

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy (RLT), also known as photobiomodulation (PMB) and low-level light therapy (LLLT), is an innovative biohacking technique that uses red and near-infrared light to supercharge your cells and, as a result, boost overall health and wellness.

The term “red light” includes wavelengths of red and near-infrared (NIR) light. It is the most popular and most widely studied form of light treatment, due to its broad range of effects. The main difference between them is that NIR wavelengths are longer and penetrate much deeper into the skin than red light.

How Red Light Therapy Works

Red light therapy involves shining red and/or NIR light onto the body to stimulate biological processes. When the body is exposed to red light, the light wavelengths stimulate the mitochondria to produce more ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is a molecule that produces the energy our body needs to function so that it can heal tissue, cells, and systems.

More than 4000 studies and scientific reviews have been conducted to investigate the physiological effects of red light therapy. The main areas of therapeutic benefit include:

  • collagen production
  • repair and recovery of muscles, and
  • relief from symptoms of illnesses that stem from some type of inflammatory response.

In a nutshell, the power of red light therapy lies primarily in its ability to increase cellular energy.

Can Red Light Therapy Tighten Loose Skin?

Collagen and elastin are the proteins that give your skin structure and elasticity when you’re younger. As we age, our body produces less collagen and elastin, which results in fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Red light therapy combats this by (1) increasing the functioning of the mitochondria to optimize ATP production and cellular energy, allowing skin cells to protect existing collagen and elastin, and (2) increasing collagen production.[1]

Increased Cellular Energy

When red and NIR light is absorbed into the skin, the light wavelengths stimulate the mitochondria to produce more ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary cellular fuel.

The human body actually works like a battery, and a simple way to think about that is that red light acts as a stimulant for cells, similar to recharging a battery.

The most fundamental and far-reaching benefit of red light is increased cellular energy. It’s the start of a positive chain reaction that starts with increased cellular function and ends with improved systemic function.

There is a lot more science to explain this, but the short and simple version is that: our cells work better when the mitochondria within those cells are producing more energy.

When cells are healthy, they can function better, replicate more successfully, and defend themselves against oxidative stress and any environmental pathogens.

Increased Collagen and Elastin Production

Red light therapy increases cellular and stimulates the body to produce more collagen, which is another type of protein.

Collagen is a protein that makes up about 80% of the skin. It is what provides the skin with structure, which is what keeps it feeling firm or tight. On the other hand, elastin is the protein that makes skin stretch and bounces back. Without these two key proteins, the skin has will have no support or elasticity.

The key to restoring firmness and elasticity is to stimulate healthy collagen production that will support the skin.

Improved Circulation

Red light therapy has been shown to aid the functioning of both the circulatory system and the lymphatic system by increasing the creation of new capillaries. The increase of capillaries improves blood flow to the scalp and brings oxygen and nutrients to cells.

Aside from collagen and elastin, your skin tone also relies on good blood and lymph circulation to the skin. Blood flow brings nutrients to the skin, and lymph removes waste from the skin, reducing oxidative stress and the presence of cell-damaging pathogens.

Endothelial cells, which make up the inner layer of capillaries, are present both in the cardiovascular system and the lymphatic system. A 2017 study found that red light therapy promotes the growth of endothelial cells to improve circulation as well.

Studies on Red Light Therapy for Tightening Skin

There are thousands of clinical studies and reviews regarding the effects of red light therapy on skin tone and firmness. Here are some:

  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16989189/ In a 2006 study on red light therapy and photoaging skin, subjects received red light therapy treatment over 5 weeks and were subsequently evaluated after 12 weeks. The vast majority reported significant improvement in softness, smoothness, and firmness, and showed improvements in wrinkles as well. Biopsies on select subjects also revealed thicker collagen fibers.[2]
  • A 2009 research studied the effects of photobiomodulation on the regulation of collagen metabolism in vitro. Using human reconstructed skin (HRS), researchers were able to look at the mechanisms behind red light therapy’s effect on the skin. They found that it reversed the downregulation (sciency word for reduction at the cellular level) of collagen. They determined that red light at 660nm is a safe and effective way to enhance collagen production.[3]
  • A 2014 study compared subjects who received red light therapy treatment twice a week for 30 sessions with those who received no treatment. The treated subjects showed significant improvements in skin complexion, feeling and smoothness, and collagen density (as measured by ultrasound). Control subjects in contrast showed no such benefits. The researchers concluded that red light therapy is a safe and effective tool for skin rejuvenation and intradermal collagen increase.[4]
  • A meta-analysis was conducted in 2013 on the benefits of red light therapy for the treatment of skin issues as well as the underlying mechanisms. The analysis concluded that red light therapy is beneficial in the treatment of a variety of skin issues, including wrinkles, scars, acne, and hyperpigmentation, and can also be used to reduce and prevent UV damage.[5]
  • A 2017 study measured the effectiveness of three different facial treatments, including red light therapy, on the wrinkles and moisture content of women’s eyes, foreheads, and cheeks. Researchers found that red light therapy had a significant positive effect on women’s faces.[6]

How to Get the Most Out of Red Light Therapy?

Generally, the closer you are to the light source, the deeper the light penetrates. For skin and other surface issues like hair growth and eye health, it’s best to position yourself a little further from your device, ideally 12-18 inches away. For deeper issues, a distance of 6 inches will be more effective.

As to the frequency, red light therapy is safe to use every day. In fact, many people like to incorporate it into their daily routine. For the best results, we recommend having 3 sessions per week.

The key to success is consistency and patience. It’s important to remember that red light therapy is an inside-out approach that treats the root cause of skin conditions. Skin cells take about a month to regenerate and they don’t all regenerate at once, so you can expect to see results after around 1-4 months of consistent use.

Sample Application: How to Use RLT for Tightening Skin

Summary:

Red light therapy is a safe, natural, and effective treatment for tightening and rejuvenating your skin, boosting collagen, reducing wrinkles & fine lines, as well minimizing the appearance of scars & blemishes, and acne.

RLT is also backed by a huge base of clinical research. In fact, more than 4000 studies and scientific reviews have been conducted to investigate the physiological effects of red light therapy.

In addition to your skin naturally getting tighter over time, you will likely experience other systematic benefits as well, due to the increased cellular energy in your body.

If you’re struggling with sagging skin, consider giving red light therapy a try. Check out our high-quality at-home red light devices here.

Sources

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/red-light-therapy

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16989189/

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15341749

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3926176/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24049929/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5332991/