Is red light therapy an efficient treatment for stretch marks? Some people certainly seem to think so, which brings us to today’s topic – what can infrared light do to help your skin? In this article, I’ll be evaluating the claims of infrared therapy, what it can and can’t do for your skin, as well as run you through some at-home infrared devices to facilitate your healing.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work and What Can It Do for Stretch Marks?
Red light therapy has been touted as a potent treatment for various health issues, particularly arthritis and several hormonal imbalance problems, and for treating skin issues, like acne, irritation, diminishing wrinkles, and, indeed, getting rid of stretch marks.
When you undergo red light therapy (RLT), you place yourself under a bright red lamp of sorts, which sends beams of red light into your skin. The red light penetrates the skin and is perceived as heat by your skin cells, specifically by the mitochondria, also known as “the powerhouse of the cell.”
Many experts believe that your mitochondria is stimulated to produce more energy itself and heal more quickly by receiving this red energy.
That’s why red light therapy is said to work well for stretch marks – it encourages your skin to repair itself where it was damaged and grow new, healthy cells, which automatically diminish the appearance of your stretch marks.
For a more detailed explanation of what red light therapy is and how it works for your body, I recommend Ari Whitten’s “Ultimate Guide to Red Light Therapy.”
What Benefits Does Red Light Therapy Have?
So we’ve seen how red light therapy interacts with the skin cells and what that can do for your stretch marks. But what other benefits does this potent red light have?
- Red light therapy promotes collagen production.
This is great news for treating wrinkles and dry skin, as well as stretch marks. Collagen (together with elastin) is what keeps your skin bouncy and elastic. Plenty of collagen can save you from getting stretch marks altogether, as it allows your skin to stretch and handle a rapid weight change without tearing (which is how you get stretch marks).
By building collagen in the skin’s mid-layer, red light therapy also helps heal, since collagen allows new healthy cells to grow over the damaged ones.
- Soothes pain and inflammation.
Red light therapy has also been shown to help combat pain and inflammation. This can help you cope with various afflictions, but more on point for this article, it can be helpful if you’re struggling with fresh stretch marks.
New marks often appear red and inflamed, and many people report mild to moderate pain associated with their stripes.
- Might help diminish scars.
Stretch marks are scars at their core. This becomes obvious when you’ve had them for a while, and they take on that white, faded look. A 2003 study linked low-level laser therapy (which is another name for red light therapy) with fading away and improving burn scars’ appearance, among other types.
Red light therapy is said to also lead to increased blood flow, which (if true) would also mean that your skin cells are stimulated and the regrowth rate accelerated. However, there isn’t much evidence to support this claim, so take this with a grain of salt.
All in all, there are some reliable studies (like the ones linked above) that support the various claims that red light therapy is good for your skin, so while I can’t say for sure what it does for other, more severe illnesses, it seems like a good idea for stretch marks.
Are There Any Side Effects or Risks To Red Light Therapy?
Generally, red light therapy is accepted as a safe and harmless procedure. There have been occasional burns, either from spending too much time under the red light or from broken wires in the device or some such. There have also been a few people who’ve complained of increased eye sensitivity linked to repeated red light use.
However, these instances are super rare, and red light therapy is a safe idea!
Red Light Therapy: Quick Guide
So now you’re eager to try red light therapy, but still have a couple of questions, like…
- How do I do red light therapy?
You can either go to a salon specializing in red light therapy or purchase a red light device to do the treatment at home.
- How often should I do red light therapy?
People were quite content with doing red light therapy twice a week. However, many do it 3-5 times a week, and some even daily, so it’s really up to you and how well/poorly your skin reacts to the procedure. But try to stick to the twice a week rule as a minimum!
- When should I see results?
Results on your stretch marks will be visible in 2 months. You might notice improvements in as little as a couple of weeks, but you need to let some time pass to allow your skin to regenerate and properly show the benefits of RLT.
RLT: What’s the Cost?
Although prices differ from state to state and salon to salon, a 30 minute red light therapy session can cost anything from $20 to $85. Prices for red light therapy devices also vary wildly. You could get one for $25 – $30, but it’s unlikely to be of good quality, so if you’re looking to do RLT at home, you should consider investing in a professional-grade machine, which can cost up to $250 – $300.
Best Red Light Therapy Devices for Stretch Marks
Red Light Therapy Device Bestqool
Pros: great rating; impressive before&after pics; professional-grade; excellent customer service.
I was unable to find any bad reviews for this red light lamp. It’s marketed as a nearly infrared device, which means it’s quite powerful, and its size and shape should allow you to use it on various parts of the body, I think. The device is also versatile – it can be propped up on a flat surface or hung up on a door or wall. So, all in all seems like an excellent purchase!
Strialite Stretch Mark Solution
Pros: fast results; great reviews; handheld (versatile); seems good for old stretch marks;
Cons: really expensive; tends to overheat if used too long.
I’ve already done an in-depth review of this one, so I will keep it brief. I love that this is a handheld device, which should make it super easy to use. This might also allow you to focus on areas like knees, pelvis, shoulders, etc.
Interestingly enough, it was designed specifically for the purpose of curing stretch marks, so I think that makes it another great option, despite the high price.
LED Red Light Therapy Lamp
Pros: budget-friendly; easy to use; adjustable; some noticed an improvement specifically on old stretch marks;
Cons: some had trouble with the clamp;
Most of the bad reviews seem to have had issues with how the lamp was made (e.g., low quality). But for the excellent price and the many great reviews online, with people confirming it helped with their various health issues, I’m willing to overlook the cheap materials.
All in all, this seems like a great lamp if you’re working on a strict budget.
Red Light Therapy Device
Pros: travel size; “fountain of youth”; worked on stretch marks; faded scars; good price;
Cons: some people didn’t see a difference when using for pain.
This is another red light therapy device that might be a good idea if you’re working on a limited budget and don’t want to spend more than $100 on your RLT device. From what I can tell, it’s an effective device for RLT, and the light seems deep enough to do something. So as long as you want it strictly for skin, and not pain and such, then this might be another worthwhile option.
Red Light Therapy Bulb
Pros: excellent price; handheld and easy to use; versatile; two wavelengths; relaxing; many great reviews.
While I’m not crazy by it “overheating” if used heavily, I can’t say this is the only RLT device with that problem. This bulb comes at a truly unbeatable price, so if you want to try out RLT at home without breaking the bank, I highly recommend this bulb since it costs less than some salons charge for one RLT session.
Red Light Therapy Lamp
Pros: easy to use; adjustable; soothing (even for pain); therapeutic effect; relaxing.
Cons: missing parts at delivery; poor quality bulb.
Honestly, the price alone makes this seem like a good idea at first. Still, honestly, this seems to have more negative reviews than the other devices reviewed above, and the price difference isn’t that big, so I’d recommend going for those, rather than risking low quality with this one.
Still, it has lots of excellent reviews saying it’s soothing and healing, so I guess I’d give this one a mixed review!
Verdict: Should I Use RLT For My Stretch Marks?
Yes, you definitely should. I think red light therapy can work wonders for your skin. It’s also a good idea of investing in an at-home device since you can use it for other problems (from acne to cellulite to back pain). So it’s a versatile treatment option, one backed by quite a few studies.
P.S.: Always check with the seller if they offer goggles as well. If not, make sure to get some to protect your eyes!