Is LLLT effective for Wound Healing?



Wound healing is a complex phenomenon which depends upon a number of factors. It is amazing to note that the natural process of healing gears into action as soon as the injury occurs-which could either be an internal injury with bleeding occurring inside the wound site or an external one with the blood oozing out of the open wound.Bleeding occurs when a blood vessel is damaged. If the vessel is internal, blood seeps into surrounding tissue, and a bruise forms.

Minor injuries heal very fast and pose no serious concerns but chronic and deep wounds in animals or humans are very painful, take time to heal so they need proper care.

Leaving behind the traditional antiseptic creams and dressings you would be amazed to know that there is cure for wounds in Photomedicine too. This  includes therapeutic applications of light for detecting and curing minor a swell as chronic wounds. 


LLLT and injury repair!

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a form of alternative medicine that applies low-level (low-power) lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to the surface or orifices of the body to stimulate and enhance cell function. More recently, LLLT is being used for skin rejuvenation. It has been reported to improve wrinkles and skin texture, reduce skin laxity and diminish scars. Preliminary data indicate that it might also improve a number of skin conditions, including acne, certain pigmentation disorders, burns, cuts, wounds and possibly psoriasis.

LEDs (light emitting diodes) including red and infrared lights have been proven to have enormous benefits for your skin. Scientific studies have shown that some skin cells may actually develop 150-200% faster when exposed to red an infrared LED wavelengths. This increase in cellular growth may help increase the healing process tremendously. In fact, tests have revealed that both red and infrared LED wavelengths affect at least 24 varied and constructive changes at a cellular level.

There are perhaps three main areas of medicine and veterinary practice where LLLT has a major role to play, these are:

(i) wound healing, tissue repair and prevention of tissue death;

(ii) relief of inflammation in chronic diseases and injuries with its associated pain and edema;

(iii) relief of neurogenic pain and some neurological problems. The proposed pathways to explain the mechanisms of LLLT should ideally be applicable to all these conditions.


Scientific basis for use of LLLT:

Some researchers argue that in essence LLLT works similarly to the cosmetic skin rejuvenation methods employing controlled damage followed by tissue healing and remodeling. The effects of the light used in LLLT overlap with biochemical changes seen during tissue damage, such as production of free radicals. In particular, LLLT was shown to boost the energy production by mitochondria, increase collagen synthesis, stimulate micro-circulation and so forth. 

Suggested readings:

1. Light-emitting diodes originally developed for NASA plant growth experiments in space show promise for delivering light deep into tissues of the body to promote wound healing and human tissue growth. (NCBI)

2. Effect of Infrared Radiation on the Healing of Diabetic Foot Ulcer. Using the infrared plus routine dressing is more effective than using merely routine dressing. (NCBI)

3. Photobiomodulation by light in the red to near infrared range (630–1000 nm) using low energy lasers or light-emitting diode (LED) arrays has been shown to accelerate wound healing. 


‘Red light and infrared light wavelengths penetrate deep into the body easing pain and repairing damaged tissue.’


  • Red light at 660nm penetrates to a depth of about 8-10mm which makes it beneficial for treating problems closer to the surface of the skin such as wounds, cuts, scars, and infection.
  • Red light is known to reduce inflammation. Moreover, it boosts circulation as you might have read above and thus help in healing wounds.


  • Infrared light at 880nm penetrates to a depth of about 30-40 mm which makes it very effective for bones, joints, and deep muscle problems. Scientists divide the infrared range into three types on the basis of wavelength:It has been divided into three bands: IR-A (760–1400 nm) mostly referred to as NEAR INFRA RED, IR-B (1400–3000 nm), and IR-C (3000 nm–1 mm)
  • It isn’t detrimental to the skin. The solar IR-A (also called NIR) irradiance level is critical to trigger beneficial effects in the skin beyond which it becomes deleterious. It has been known for almost 50 years that low energy exposure to visible and NIR wavelengths is beneficial to humans via the promotion of healing processes. IR-A appears to be the solution, not the problem. It does more good than bad for the skin. It is essentially a question of intensity and how we can learn from the sun.
  • Infra red radiation has quite a good penetrating power: IR radiation can penetrate the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue to differing extents depending on the exact wavelength range being studied. 
  • Helps in tissue regeneration also known as photo-rejuvenation.


Mechanism of Action!

LLLT has a wide range of effects at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels.

The basic biological mechanism behind the effects of LLLT is thought to be through absorption of red and NIR light by mitochondrial chromophores, in particular cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) which is contained in the respiratory chain located within the mitochondria.

This absorption of light causes photodissociation of nitric oxide (NO) which is an inhibitory effect on CCO (cytochrome C oxidase). Thus, when NO levels reduce ATP production/mitochondrial activity is enhanced and relevant intercellular signalling pathways ate activated which trigger cell proliferation, survival, tissue repair and regeneration.


Can I use it?

Wounds that are difficult to heal represent a serious public health problem. The lesions severely affect the quality of life of individuals due to decreased mobility and substantial loss of productivity; they can also cause emotional damage and contribute to increase the burden of public expenditures in healthcare.

Do not be reluctant to use this therapy, as it is proven effective and safe. Be it wounds on animal or human body, it will heal both equally fast and safely.  Several studies demonstrate the benefits of low-power light therapy on wound healing. Known names like Vetrolaser or Thor laser; both use LLLT to heal chronic, non healing wounds.

We conclude, Phototherapy, either by LASER or LED, is an effective therapeutic modality to promote healing of skin wounds. Importantly, the biological effects are dependent on such parameters, especially wavelength and dose, highlighting the importance of determining an appropriate treatment protocol. (NCBI)


 Any safety issues? 

Being moderate in using this therapy, is the key to SAFETY. To avoid any sort of eye strain or a headache by the glare of the intense light, you should use proper eye protection and avoid staring directly into the beam of light.

 IR via LLLT (low level light therapy) and exposure to visible IR-A wavelength can be very beneficial given that the right wavelength and power is used. Same goes for Red light. It is this LLLT that most devices offer. A range of safe to use ‘AT HOME’ devices are available. They can be used to heal injury related as well as other skin related issues for which LLT is beneficial.