- On August 17, 2018
Light That Heals
The therapeutic and beneficial effects of light have been known for thousands of years. Hippocrates was a big proponent, and it is said that Olympian athletes were required to sunbathe. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, solaria (buildings with retractable roofs and sliding walls) were built across Europe to treat various diseases of the joints and skin, including tuberculosis. Inspired by long recognized health benefits and advanced by NASA in the 1990s, science and technology have continued to refine a means for harnessing the power of therapeutic light (without the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays) by way of low level light therapy that utilizes light emitting diodes.
Because of its well known benefits, LED therapy has earned a reputation as an important and versatile “must have” in spas, salons, and treatment rooms across the world. Light therapy is best known as a non-invasive and effective treatment for skin rejuvenation and acne, but if you take a closer look at the evidence on how it actually works, you may come to think of these applications as mere hints at the possibilities. The reason for this is simple – LED therapy benefits the body’s cells in the same way it benefits the skin’s cells. In fact, the effects can be even more dramatic when greater surface areas of the body are treated. Before we explore this any farther, let’s consider the significance to our industry.
The Need To Unplug
The world we live in has changed in an unprecedented way over the past couple of decades, and we are both reaping the benefits and paying the price. Computers and smart devices allow us to be available to anyone and everyone all of the time, both professionally and socially. While quite convenient, the downside to this is that we are seldom truly “unplugged” for more than brief intervals of time. This can create an insidious atmosphere of chronic, low-grade stress that takes a silent toll on our health, even as we congratulate ourselves on all we’re getting done.
For this and many other reasons, there is a keen and growing interest in self-care, be it at home, a local spa, or even a vacation setting. This, of course, has created an opportunity for spas to position themselves as environments that specialize in providing both expertise and treatment in the area of proactive wellness. According to the Global Wellness Institute, “Spas are already providing wellness, even if they don’t recognize it or claim it. The tradition of spa as a place for healing, renewal, relaxation, and feeling well positions the spa industry as one of the most logical sectors to take advantage of (and help lead) the wellness movement.” (Source: Global Spa Summit, Spas and the Global Wellness Market: Synergies and Opportunities, prepared by SRI International, May 2010.)
Radiant Skin & Better Health
LED therapy can be used to enhance facial treatments by stimulating cellular function, facilitating better ingredient absorption, resolving inflammation (including puffiness and redness), and promoting blood circulation and tissue oxygenation. Regular treatment can even diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Full body LED treatment, such as that experienced on an LED bed, can provide all of the benefits mentioned above, but since the treatment area is greater (meaning more of the body’s cells directly absorb therapeutic light energy) most experience a more profound response often described as “deep relaxation and calm” or even “conservative euphoria.”
Studies have demonstrated a number of positive effects on overall health and performance including improvements in blood pressure, enhanced muscle regeneration, better stamina and post-exercise recovery of strength and function, and reduced pain. This is often attributed to the fact that specific wavelengths of light have the ability to release nitric oxide (NO) from cells making it available to the body. NO is an important signaling molecule that we produce less and less of as we age. In fact, by the time we reach the age of 60, it is believed that the body’s production of NO drops by a staggering 85%. Nitric oxide, often referred to as “the miracle molecule”, is critical to many areas of health due to its ability to signal blood vessels and arteries to relax and expand, immune cells to destroy invaders, and brain cells to communicate with each other. A decline in NO can contribute to a number of age related illnesses and difficulties including strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, dementia, and even erectile dysfunction.
As the evidence in favor of LED therapy continues to grow, interest from a wide variety of mindsets has soared. Fans include those who are committed to “aging better” by boosting the body’s inherent ability to heal and thrive, fitness and exercise aficionados in the pursuit of optimal physical performance, and certainly anyone interested in a soothing and relaxing respite from the daily stresses of life.
Modern technology that refines and builds upon centuries of healing wisdom seems in harmony with the spa environment, and optimizing the body’s natural resources is a path that can only lead to good.
Questions to ask before purchasing an LED Device:
- Is the device FDA Cleared? FDA clearance means that the manufacturer has demonstrated both efficacy and safety through FDA Clinical Trials.
- Where is it manufactured? Whether or not the device is manufactured in the US may be of interest. In-house vs. contract manufacture is considered preferable, as it allows for more stringent monitoring of and adherence to quality control practices.
- Is the manufacturing facility ISO Certified? ISO 13485 specifies requirements for a quality management system where an organization needs to demonstrate its ability to provide medical devices and related services that consistently meet customer and applicable regulatory requirements.
- Is there a warranty on the device?
- How long has the company been in business, who are their clients, and what is their reputation? According to many experts, long term positive results are the most important criteria by which efficacy is evaluated.
- How is the device serviced if it requires maintenance? This can represent considerable expense and inconvenience, especially with larger devices.
- Does the manufacturer provide education and support? Education is key in helping your staff understand and communicate benefits in order to effectively sell services.
Amy Gardner, Director of Education
Amy Gardner is a Licensed Esthetician and LightStim’s Director of Education. Amy is sought after speaker among skin care professionals, and has contributed to numerous industry publications throughout her career. Amy has spearheaded the education division at LightStim for over eight years where she has applied her 25 years of experience in corporate education and program development, crafting the curriculum for LightStim instructional platforms.