Red light therapy has become an increasingly popular treatment option for a wide range of health and aesthetic goals. As a business owner, trader, or medical beauty institution, you may be considering adding red light therapy to your offerings. However, you and your clients likely have questions about what to expect after a session.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the basics of red light therapy, what happens during and after treatments, the timeline for results, how long benefits last, and so much more. Read on to learn everything you need to confidently offer red light therapy services.
Red Light Therapy Introduction
Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is a non-invasive treatment that exposes the body to certain wavelengths of red and near-infrared light. These wavelengths have been shown to provide a multitude of benefits, from reducing inflammation and pain to stimulating collagen production and improving skin health.
During a session, a client simply sits or lies beneath a red light therapy device fitted with LEDs that emit the therapeutic wavelengths. The photons from the LEDs penetrate deeply into the skin and cells where they trigger beneficial reactions. Treatments are completely pain-free and carry virtually no side effects. Sessions can last anywhere from 5-30 minutes depending on the area being treated.
Now that you understand the basics of what happens during a red light therapy session, let’s look at what you and your clients can expect after treatment.
Immediately After Treatment
One of the biggest advantages of red light therapy is that there is little to no downtime required. Most people can return to all normal activities immediately. Here are some of the effects that may be noticed right after a session:
- Subtle relaxation – Many clients report feeling deeply relaxed directly after red light therapy, similar to the feeling after a light massage. This can be attributed to the release of serotonin and endorphins triggered by the light.
- Skin warmth – Skin may feel slightly warm to the touch for up to an hour following treatment. This indicates an increase in blood flow to the area.
- Temporary redness – Some mild redness is common, especially when treating acne-prone skin. This resolves within a couple of hours.
- Tingling sensation – Some tingling or itching sensations are normal as part of the inflammation response. This should fade quickly.
- Fatigue – Those receiving full body treatments may feel ready for a nap afterward as ATP (energy) production ramps up.
- Thirst – Drink plenty of water after red light therapy to stay hydrated.
Aside from these subtle and temporary effects, clients should feel ready to go about their day as normal. No recovery period is required.
Later That Day
In the hours following a red light therapy session, here are some changes clients may notice:
- Improved mood – Research shows red light can boost mood for up to 5 days post-treatment. Clients may report feeling uplifted, energized, and optimistic.
- Reduced pain – Those using red light therapy for pain relief often report significant improvements in chronic pain lasting 6-8 hours after the first few sessions.
- Less stiffness – Increased circulation and collagen production can lead to decreased stiffness and soreness in joints and muscles.
- Fading blemishes – With consistent use 3-5 times per week, red light can start fading acne spots, scars, sun spots, and age spots within 1-2 weeks.
- Healthier skin tone – Skin may start to develop a “glow” over the next few weeks with more even tone and improved clarity.
- Shinier hair – Increased cell energy can deliver more volume and shine to hair. Difference may be noticeable within a week or two.
- Sounder sleep – Red light helps regulate circadian rhythms leading to deeper, more restorative sleep.
These are some of the shorter-term effects your clients will likely notice and appreciate right away. However, the real results take consistency and patience over weeks and months.
First 1-4 Weeks
During the first few weeks of consistent red light therapy (2-5 sessions per week), here is what typically happens:
- Existing blemishes start fading more rapidly than with topical creams alone. Red light reduces inflammation and stimulates healthy cell turnover.
- Fine lines and wrinkles look slightly smoother. Collagen production ramps up, plumping the complexion.
- Skin texture and tone improve. With boosted collagen, skin looks firmer, pores appear tighter, and complexion evens.
- Any scarring or stretch marks become lighter and less noticeable. These take longer to fully resolve but results show within weeks.
- Under-eye bags and circles diminish as circulation increases and inflammation decreases.
- Joint and muscle soreness after exercise improves more quickly thanks to faster recovery.
- Energy levels increase from consistently higher ATP production in cells. Stamina for workouts improves.
- Mental clarity and focus get a boost from the brain cell and neuron-stimulating effects.
- Immunity improves as red light modulates immune system responses. Colds and flus happen less often.
- Hair and nails grow faster and stronger thanks to increased circulation and keratin production.
- Skin looks fuller and plumper as new collagen remodels the complexion. Nasolabial folds appear less pronounced.
- Any red or inflamed breakouts heal faster. Acne often improves within 1-2 months.
These results help demonstrate to new clients the power of red light therapy over time. While a one-off session provides temporary benefits, it takes consistency to achieve most aesthetic goals.
6-12 Week Mark
In the 2-3 months of sticking with red light therapy protocols (at least 2-3 sessions per week), here are some of the more significant changes that occur:
- Wrinkles and fine lines visibly improve – Some may be reduced by up to 30% due to boosted collagen. Results rival some minimally invasive treatments.
- Skin becomes thicker and firmer – The plumping and tightening effects become noticeable, with improved elasticity.
- The jawline and contours of the face appear more defined as sagging diminishes.
- Cellulite looks smoother – Fat cells shrink while the skin surface remodels. Dimples are less noticeable.
- Stubborn fat deposits slim down, especially around the stomach and hips. Provides contouring effects.
- Joint pain and arthritis symptoms are often reduced by up to 60-70% or more. Mobility improves.
- Those with autoimmune conditions report decreases in flare-ups and symptoms. Red light can help regulate immune responses.
- Hair growth accelerates, with thinning areas filling in. Shine and strength also improve.
- Skin disorders like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis often show significant clearing and improvement.
- Wounds and scars heal faster with reduced risk of infections or dark scarring.
- Athletic performance, endurance, and recovery all get a boost from cellular and circulatory enhancements.
- Mental outlook and mood remain uplifted. Anxiety and depression may be alleviated.
The host of benefits above demonstrates why consistency is key to getting the most out of red light therapy. While clients will start seeing some results in the first few weeks, the longer-term improvements really cement its value in any health, wellness, or aesthetic business.
How Long Do the Benefits Last?
A common question is how long the benefits of red light therapy last after a series of treatments. There is no straightforward answer, as it depends on several factors:
- Health Status – Those who are generally healthy and active tend to have longer-lasting results vs. the elderly, ill, or sedentary.
- Condition Being Treated – Chronic issues like joint pain may recur sooner than cosmetic issues like wrinkles.
- Consistency – The longer someone undergoes treatments, the longer benefits persist.
- Wavelengths Used – Different wavelengths target different cells and tissues. Sessions incorporating multiple wavelengths tend to be the most effective.
However, some general guidelines on longevity include:
- Cosmetic improvements like brighter, tighter skin can last 4-6 months before maintenance sessions are needed.
- Pain relief for conditions like arthritis may only last 2-3 months once treatments are stopped. Ongoing maintenance is recommended.
- Wound healing acceleration and immune system modulation last 3-6 weeks post-treatment.
- Performance enhancement effects may persist for 1-2 months afterwards.
- Mood and focus improvements typically last several weeks but can persist for up to 2 months.
Your clients will receive the most lasting results from red light therapy by sticking to a consistent protocol over 3-6 months before reducing to a maintenance schedule. Sustaining the benefits involves ongoing sessions 1-2 times per month. Proper nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and other lifestyle factors also play key roles.
While outcomes vary, almost anyone can experience lasting aesthetic and performance benefits from red light therapy with the right protocols and expectations.
Who Sees Faster vs. Slower Results?
The speed at which clients notice improvements with red light therapy depends on several characteristics. Those likely to see faster results include:
- Younger Clients – Due to increased cell activity and circulation. Collagen and elastin production is more robust.
- Healthier Individuals – Those who are active with good diets tend to respond better than sedentary people who eat poorly.
- Clients With Minor Damage – Light sun spots will fade faster than deep wrinkles and scars. Mild joint pain improves quicker than severe arthritis.
- Fairer Skin Tones – The light can penetrate more deeply compared to darker complexions.
- Good Treatment Consistency – At least 2-3 sessions per week deliver better results than 1 session a month.
- Quality Device – Professional equipment with optimal wavelengths and power density works best.
- Realistic Expectations – Understanding limitations prevents disappointment from slow progress.
Those likely to see slower results that require patience include:
- Elderly Clients – Cellular activity slows with age, so collagen and elastin take longer to rebuild.
- Sick or Immune Compromised – Those with illnesses or autoimmune conditions may not respond as readily.
- Former Smokers – Toxins from smoking can remain in the tissues and slow healing.
- Genetic Predispositions – Some chronic issues like autoimmune disorders are difficult to significantly improve.
- Darker Skin Tones – More melanin prevents light absorption in the deeper layers where change needs to happen.
- Very Out of Shape – The obese and extremely inactive have lower cellular function and circulation.
- Severe, Advanced Damage – Deep scars and significant arthritis take longer to respond.
- Inconsistent Treatments – Spotty sessions once a week or less don’t deliver change quickly.
- Poor Equipment – Weak LEDs without optimal wavelengths have less biological impact.
- Unrealistic Expectations – Dramatic changes take 2-3 months for most clients, not days.
With the right protocols and expectations, the vast majority can benefit from red light therapy over time. Be sure to advise clients that consistency and patience are key, especially those in the slower response categories.
Ideal Treatment Frequency
So how often should your clients be receiving red light therapy to achieve the best results? Here are some general recommendations:
- Collagen Boosting – 2-3 sessions per week for skin rejuvenation, wound healing.
- Pain Management – 3-5 sessions per week for arthritis relief, joint and muscle recovery.
- Autoimmune Conditions – Minimum of 3 sessions per week for inflammation reduction.
- Biohacking – 5 sessions per week for energy, endurance, immunity.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder – 2-3 sessions per week in winter for mood support.
- Thyroid Stimulation – Daily sessions for 2-3 weeks for metabolism support.
- Hair Regrowth – 5 sessions per week for 2-3 months to stimulate follicles.
- Skincare Synergy – 2-3 sessions weekly alongside serums/masks for absorption.
- Chronic Issues – Minimum of 3 sessions per week for lasting improvement.
- Pre and Post Surgery – 5 sessions per week for 2 weeks pre-op for optimization, and 3 sessions per week for 2 months post-op for healing.
- Athletic Performance – At least 3 sessions per week pre and post-workouts for faster recovery.
- Anti-aging – 3 full body sessions per week for cellular rejuvenation.
For most aesthetic and pain relief goals, aim for a minimum of 2-3 sessions per week. Daily or every other day works best for accelerating results and overcoming chronic issues. Once improvements are achieved, reduce the frequency to 1-2 monthly maintenance sessions.
Keep in mind that red light therapy is completely safe with no harmful effects from overuse. Feel free to encourage daily sessions if clients want faster outcomes. Just moderate expectations around the level of change possible for more significant conditions.
Considerations for Special Populations
While generally safe, red light therapy may not be advisable for certain populations without medical guidance. Use caution and consult doctors when treating:
- Pregnant Women – Developing fetuses are particularly vulnerable to light stimuli. Avoid abdominal exposure unless under doctor’s supervision.
- Those on Light-Sensitizing Medications – Photosensitizers can increase the risk of reactions. Check drug labels.
- Cancer Patients – While red light can improve the side effects of chemotherapy, work with the oncologist on appropriate use.
- Individuals with Seizures – Flickering lights can potentially trigger seizures in those susceptible. Use steady pulsing light.
- People with Thyroid Issues – Red light energizes the thyroid. Work with a medical provider to adjust medications if necessary.
- Children & Teens – While generally safe, limit sessions to 10-15 minutes to avoid overstimulation in developing bodies. Supervise use.
- Elderly Clients – Start with shorter 5-minute exposures to gauge tolerance before increasing duration. Monitor for dizziness.
Always evaluate your clients and look for any precautions before beginning red light therapy protocols. Adjust settings as needed (such as avoiding flashing/pulsing lights) and consult doctors to ensure safety.
Options for Enhancing Results
While red light therapy alone offers a breadth of benefits, you can enhance results by pairing treatments with:
- Quality Skincare – Serums and moisturizers with peptides and growth factors support collagen growth and absorption.
- Microdermabrasion – This exfoliates away dead skin so light penetrates optimally into fresh skin.
- Microneedling – Inducing micro-injuries further stimulates the rejuvenating effects of red light.
- Cryotherapy – Pre-cooling the skin boosts circulation once the area is exposed to the LEDs.
- Oxygen Therapy – Pressurized oxygenation before red light enhances cell metabolism and response.
- Compression Therapy – Applying compression supports tissue remodeling between LED sessions.
- Nutrient IV Therapy – Custom IV nutrient blends provide raw materials to enhance healing.
- Lifestyle Optimization – Good sleep, stress management, diet, and exercise support results.
- Home Devices – Offering at-home red light masks sustains benefits between in-clinic sessions.
By providing supporting modalities and advising clients on lifestyle, you can maximize improvements from red light therapy. Results will impress both you and your customers.
Red light therapy provides a multitude of restorative aesthetic and performance benefits with the convenience of zero downtime. After walking through the specifics of what clients can expect during the first few treatments, within 1-3 months, and long term, you are now well equipped to counsel your customers on ideal protocols and realistic timelines.
Consistency is crucial for optimal improvements, so be sure to incorporate red light into a well-rounded treatment plan. When paired with sound advice on lifestyle modifications, high-quality supplemental therapies, and effective skincare, red light can deliver outstanding outcomes for a huge range of health and beauty goals.