Low Level Laser Therapy

Incorporating FDA cleared low level laser therapy into your medical practice

An Article by Julia Breur PhD., LMFT


When it comes to cosmetic procedures, the medical practice that has most therapeutic modalities available in the office wins. In other words, patients have options when it comes to cosmetic procedures and practitioners. Patients are becoming better educated and discerning. Aesthetically minded patients are interviewing physicians before making an appointment. Very soon they will be asking if you have low level laser technology in your office. What will you tell them?

It is understandable that you have to be selective when it comes to purchasing new equipment for your medical practice. However there are some pieces of equipment that you cannot afford to be without. For example, an ophthalmologist that performs vision correction surgery simply must have a LASIK system. In time, if you are performing aesthetic skin treatments, you will need to have FDA cleared low level laser therapy available in your medical practice.

Applications of low level laser therapy

Acne vulgaris - Acne vulgaris is one of the most frequent conditions a dermatologist faces because it is so common and difficult for patients. While high intensity lasers may be damaging to skin in some applications, low level laser therapy does not burn or damage the skin. Rather it can be used to disrupt the bacteria that are contributing to the acne. Certain wavelengths of light create phototoxic damage of Propionibacterium acnes, a principal cause of acne vulgaris.1 Acne vulgaris does not occur in a pore that is free of cellular debris. Low level laser therapy stimulates macrophages to improve overall “housekeeping” within the skin pore. Many patients state that they notice that the sun clears their skin of acne, but a dermatologist cannot advocate for time in direct ultraviolet sunlight. With FDA cleared low level laser therapy you are able to administer UV free light in a tight band of wavelengths (between 400 and 420 nm). This provides the skin clearing benefit of blue-violet spectrum of visible light without skin damaging ultraviolet radiation (~300 nm).

Eczema – Eczema is another common skin condition that affects millions of people. While there are some effective treatments, most people suffer from this uncomfortable skin disorder for years. They may be able to clear the eczema temporarily, but it returns seasonally or at some other point cyclically. Low level laser therapy is a safe and effective treatment to reduce the duration of symptoms in patients. The effectiveness of this therapy in patients was first noticed during the treatment of port wine stains—overlying atopic dermatitis appeared to improve with laser treatment. 2

Scar treatment – Early evidence suggests that low level light therapy can aid in the wound healing process. When applied in the early stages of wound healing, the light energy stimulates wound healing. When low level light therapy is applied to acne scars, laceration and burn wounds, or stretch marks, the skin’s remodeling process is promoted and enhanced.

Wrinkles/anti-aging – One of the consistent findings seen in high intensity laser treatments is that the underlying connective tissue is tightened and new collagen formation is stimulated. This effect seems to be occurring with low level light therapy as well. People that undergo treatments report smoother skin, tightened laxities, and fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Note that the soft laser light energy does not ablate the wrinkles on the surface but rather it seems to improve the structure of deeper dermal layers.

Anti-inflammatory treatment – Low level light therapy can be used to sooth the skin and nails after treatment. For example, hair removal or spider vein removal procedures often leave the skin red, sensitive, and irritated. Low level light therapy works to reduce inflammation locally and provides clients and patients with a soothing sensation. Increased comfort with cosmetic and aesthetic procedures means more frequent visits and greater patient satisfaction.

Pain management – Low level light therapy can reduce nociceptor (pain receptor) function. Examples of the effectiveness of this treatment include elbow tendonitis and tendinopathy3 and TMJ pain.4 Recent work with laser stimulation of acupressure/acupuncture points has shown that it may be an effective means of treating chronic tension headaches.5

Incorporating low level laser technology into your practice.

When you are considering adding low level light therapy to your practice, you have several choices. There are differences in the intensity, the wavelength, the width of the spectrum, and pulse duration. There are also a number of retailers from which to choose. When it comes to health care and especially cosmetic procedures, benefit must outweigh risk. In other words, any laser system that you use should be safe. One important decision is to select a device or devices that are cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use in humans. Once your safety concerns are answered, the next important decision is to select a device that is easy to use and gives you the flexibility of treating the cases that you routinely see in practice.

It is also important to explain to your patients that low level light therapy is different from high energy laser applications. Certainly there are dozens of cutting, ablating, and vaporizing procedures that high power lasers can accomplish. Patients should know that with low level light therapy, the techniques are non-invasive. Rather than cutting, the laser is stimulating the body’s natural cellular processes. This will attract patients that desire cosmetic enhancement but are hesitant to undergo invasive laser procedures. FDA cleared low level light therapy can be a welcome and highly useful addition to your medical practice, one that not only helps your patients, but allows them to achieve the benefits of laser therapy they may have feared previously from high power laser devices.

One company is emerging as a premier provider of laser technology in the United States. Laser Therapeutics of Centerville, MA specializes in low level light and laser devices for clinical and home use. They offer a wide array of low level laser devices that can provide the flexibility of various treatment options. For example, the Omega XP laser system has been cleared by the FDA for the treatment of certain other painful musculoskeletal conditions. The Omega XP system by Laser Therapeutics provides a record of treatment time, nine pulsing frequency options, and a system that automatically calculates energy density of the treatment. In contrast to high-energy lasers, low level laser therapy delivers a non-invasive biochemical treatment rather than a thermal (and potentially painful) intervention. Low level light therapy devices are an important addition to your full service medical practice. You should look to the leader in at home and clinical laser therapeutics devices.

Reference List
  1. Elman M, Slatkine M, Harth Y. The effective treatment of acne vulgaris by a high-intensity, narrow band 405-420 nm light source. J Cosmet Laser Ther 2003;5:111-117.
  2. Syed S, Weibel L, Kennedy H, Harper JI. A pilot study showing pulsed-dye laser treatment improves localized areas of chronic atopic dermatitis. Clin Exp Dermatol 2008;33:243-248.
  3. Bjordal JM, Lopes-Martins RA, Joensen J et al. A systematic review with procedural assessments and meta-analysis of low level laser therapy in lateral elbow tendinopathy (tennis elbow). BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2008;9:75.
  4. Mazzetto MO, Carrasco TG, Bidinelo EF, de Andrade Pizzo RC, Mazzetto RG. Low intensity laser application in temporomandibular disorders: a phase I double-blind study. Cranio 2007;25:186-192.
  5. Ebneshahidi NS, Heshmatipour M, Moghaddami A, Eghtesadi-Araghi P. The effects of laser acupuncture on chronic tension headache--a randomised controlled trial. Acupunct Med 2005;23:13-18.

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