Using LED and low-level laser in your salon or spa

LED and low-level laser devices have become a common sight in almost every salon and spa, especially LED devices. But it’s not always an integrated part of the treatment menu. Many owners of these devices are still unsure or uncomfortable on how to combine LED therapy with classic treatments.

The great thing about LED therapy is that there is very little that you can do wrong. In most cases, the worst that can happen is that you don’t get any results.

LED, low-level laser and chromotherapy all fall in the same category of light-tissue interaction, all these devices stimulate a photochemical response. A photochemical response is one of the four mayor light-tissue interaction responses commonly utilized in the aesthetic industry. This is when the light is absorbed; and then start, enhance or stop a biochemical reaction already present in the body.

This class of therapies is nowadays called biomodulation. It is a collective name that refer to LED-, low-level laser-, cold laser-, soft laser- and general (cold) light therapies. Many of these therapies have been seen as hoax or “pie-in-the-sky” therapies due to a lag in knowledge and understanding of them.

We now have thousands of academic research papers available on biomodulation and the knowledge pool has grown considerably over the past years. Although biomodulation has an influence on various chemical pathways in the body, it is best known in the aesthetic industry for the enhancing effect it has on Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Justly, it is a significant property of this therapy because every chemical reaction in the body depends on energy.

Apart from the enhanced energy production, it also has a strong anti-inflammatory working and stimulate collagen and elastin. It is the combination of these reactions that makes biomodulation such a powerful force in the fight against ageing.

The most important parameter to look at when thinking of buying a LED or low-level laser device is the wavelength. Biomodulation is very wavelength sensitive and the most common and effective wavelengths that you will encounter in aesthetic treatments are blue (at 415 nm), red (at 633 nm) and infrared (at either 810 nm /840 nm / 940 nm). This does not mean that other wavelengths will have no effect. These wavelengths are just the most researched and documented.

The next two things to consider when looking at equipment goes hand in hand. The output energy, for biomodulation it is usually given in mW. The second thing is the design of the unit, or the usability.

As mentioned earlier, biomodulation is a non-thermal reaction. Meaning that no heat gets created because of the light. It is possible that the area treated warms because of the chemical reactions being stimulated. The moment heat is generated by the light, biostimulation is disrupted by the body’s response to get the heat under control.

A natural conclusion is then to think that you really need very little energy. Depending on your definition of little, this may be true or not. Studies have shown that you still need to convey around 4 J of energy to the treatment target to have the best effect. More energy will start to diminish results and less may lead to under-treatment. The output energy of your device will therefore determine how long a given area needs to be treated.

If your clients expect a short treatment session, then a stronger unit will do the trick and reduce the treatment time. On the other hand, if your clients expect an extended pamper session you will be better served with a device with a lower energy output.

When we look at usability, we refer to how practical a device will fit into your salon or spa. Do you need a device that requires very little operators attention or can be completely ‘self-service’ by the client? Or will you be better suited by a device that needs to be held by a therapist the whole time?
Both types have pro’s and con’s, it depends on your needs. Also, important to know beforehand is; will you use it mostly on large or small treatment areas?

Biomodulation can be combined with almost any other treatment. That said, there are a couple of simple rules you need to adhere to for the best results:

  • It must be used over clean skin. Everything you put between the light and the skin has an effect on the treatment outcome. Something like a serum where all the ingredient molecules are under 500 daltons is not a problem to use during light treatment. This is because it will be absorbed quickly and have a small effect on the light. Anything thicker becomes a block or reflector for the light.
  • Textiles block the energy almost completely. You cannot treat through clothing or any other form of dressing.
  • If you want increased absorption, it is best to apply the product / mask directly after biostimulation of the area.
  • If you want for the energy to ‘hang around’ in the area for longer, you can combine biomodulation with cold therapy.
  • To get the energy to spread and effect as large as possible area, it is best to combine biomodulation with a form of warmth therapy.
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