The latest trend in the acne-fighting world is the use of so-called light therapy. This treatment uses waves of light in order to clear up acne lesions. However, does it really work? And if so, how does it work? What are the side effects? Keep reading to find out!
How Light Therapy Works
Light therapy works via two mechanisms. The primary mechanism is by destroying bacteria. Acne is caused by bacteria, and exposure to certain wavelengths of light can destroy these bacteria without damaging the skin.
Light therapy is also billed to help shrink the size of and reduce the activity of sebaceous glands. These are the glands in the skin that produce oil. Since oil blocks pores and causes acne, a decrease in sebum production will result in a decrease in acne. Just how much (if at all) light therapy can shrink sebaceous glands is up for debate.
Side Effects of Light Therapy
The primary benefit of light therapy is that it is very gentle. If done at the proper wavelengths of light, it is not harmful to the skin at all. The wavelengths are very low and much less penetrating than ultra violet light or x rays, so you do not have to worry about thing like radiation. In fact, the light from these beams should not even pierce the skin.
Where Can I Get Light Therapy
Light therapy is commonly performed at a dermatologist’s office. It also may be available at spas and beauty clinics, although these types of facilities do not have the best track record for safety.
Some home kits for light therapy are available, but the effectiveness of this kits cannot be established.
How Effective Is This Therapy?
Light therapy seems to work well enough to reduce acne, at least considering its very low risk of side effects.
How Many Treatments Are Necessary?
The problem with light therapy is that it is not permanent. Just like you would regularly apply a benzoyl peroxide cream to destroy bacteria, you would need to regularly use light therapy to keep bacteria counts low on the surface of the skin.
Even if the sebaceous glands are reduced in activity from light therapy, this is not a permanent change. Regular follow-ups will need to be performed, possibly once per week, in order to maintain results.
What is the Cost of Treatment?
Not only is light therapy likely to require regular follow-up treatments, but these sessions are expensive. Expect to pay at least $250 a session (and an upwards of $500) if the procedure is being performed by a dermatologist. Spa centers may be cheaper, but still it is one of the most expensive methods to treat acne, particularly if you go regularly for follow-ups.