Cold Laser Therapy – Everything You Need to Know About

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Low level light therapy on woman

Four decades ago, carrying out certain healing procedures without making an incision on the body or employ the use of drugs was quite impossible.

But in 1967, Prof Andre Mestre applies in medical practice the physics behind Albert Einstein’s theory of Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation or what we all know as LASER.

But this is only after Theodore Maiman had invented the first laser equipment in 1960 and ever since then, laser therapy has been used in clinical practices all around the world.

This procedure employs the use of light to cure body tissues or relief bodily pains. The intensity of light that will be employed will depend on the medical condition and how severe and chronic it is. Hence they are classified differently according to the wavelength.

According to the US Food and Drug Agency (F.D.A), there are 3 categories of lasers: surgical, non-surgical, and low-level lasers.

Surgical lasers are used to cut, coagulate and heat the body tissues. They are best fitted for deep-seated pathologies while non-surgical, though being penetrative to the skin, they are the non-burning, non-cutting, and they are also painless.

Unlike these two, because of operating at low-intensity light levels, low-level lasers, also known as cold lasers, cannot penetrate below the skin level and are only used to heal superficial wounds. True to its name, cold lasers cannot heat body tissues, hence they are also painless.

The use to treat different medical conditions is becoming increasingly popular as the quest for non-invasive procedures intensifies.

According to Dr. Johnson, President of American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “these newer, non-invasive procedures appeal to a broad range of patients”.

In fact, according to statistics, non-invasive fat reduction procedures that use special technology to freeze fat without surgery increased by 5% while non-invasive skin tightening procedures that target fat and tighten sagging areas increased also by 5%.

These statistics show that non-invasive treatment is becoming increasingly popular.

Pretty fascinating, isn’t it?

In order not to overload you with information, we’ll try to cover in this guide only cold laser therapy.

And to make it easier for you, we divided it into multiple segments:

  • What cold laser/low-level light therapy is
  • How it actually works
  • The uses, benefits and side effects of the procedure

But before we dive in fully, you should check out first what red light therapy is and how cold laser relates to it.

So, let get started. 

 

What is Cold Laser Therapy?

Here’s some terminology defining the same phenomenon. In other words, you’ll stumble upon different names referring to this same exact technology:

  • Cold laser therapy
  • Photobiomodulation(PBMT)
  • Low-level light/laser therapy(LLLT)
  • Low-power laser therapy(LPLT)

Before we dive in, we are going to state what the therapy is not.

Over the years, the LED light therapy has witnessed increasing use because of its irrefutably therapeutic benefits. It serves almost the same applications as cold laser therapy.

But unlike the LLLT, LEDs emit incoherent light in a broader range of wavelength. So, don’t get confused and consider this the same as LED light therapy.

green and blue stick lotCold laser therapy is a form of non-invasive medical procedure that uses low-level light via rays of light, to relieve pain, accelerate the healing process by rejuvenating damaged tissue functions, reduce inflammation and treat other minor medical conditions.

This procedure can be used by using the cold laser device at the targeted areas and then allow the body to absorb the light. This light causes a reaction from the damaged tissues that will trigger regeneration.

The good thing about this procedure is that it takes as little as 3 to 5 minutes to be completed.

Though this treatment is recommended at least 2 times a week, the actual number of treatments will depend on how chronic and severe a medical condition is, plus other factors that should be evaluated by your physician.

If you’re thinking that this procedure delivers temporary results to treated conditions, think again.

Unlike other therapies that try to treat a condition by masking it, low laser therapy interacts with the damaged cells to initiate a natural healing process and the result is actually seen in the long term.

But the question is, how does a mere light do this? 

Well, the answer is simple, and this takes us to the next section.

 

So, How Does a Cold Laser Work?

Before we get started, I have to warn you. This section might be a bit technical.

We will try as much as possible to break it down to basics and make it easy to understand. In case you run into a road-block, then feel free to use the comment box.

person showing her hand with green LED lightsIn 1916, Albert Einstein propounded the theory that led to the manufacture of the technology in 1960.

This device consists of a laser medium that determines the wavelength, enclosed in between two parallel mirrors, one of which is partially reflecting and partially transmitting.

When is activated, it releases energized photons spontaneously in all directions traveling in a unified manner between the parallel mirrors. These mirrors then reflect these photons to generate a stimulated emission that is amplified.

Now the partially transmitting mirror will then allow this amplified, powerful and cohesive beam of light to be released as laser light.

It is this coherence that allows it to exert a significant effect on matter.

Now when this ray of light touches the affected area on the body and it is absorbed by the damaged cell, they will act on the mitochondria delivering energy that will lead it to trigger an increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The ATP is the main energy source for a metabolic function. It provides the energy needed to drive a series of processes in the living cells.

The increased production of this adenosine triphosphate will lead to faster production of collagen, DNA and other bodily materials that are essential for a natural healing process to occur.

The actual effect of this therapy will begin immediately at the time of treatment, but results can only be seen several hours later, though this will depend both on the nature of the condition and the properties: its power, energy content and the wavelength.

 

Now, What is Low-Light Laser Therapy Used for?

Like we pointed out earlier, there are quite a number of areas this could be applied into.

And the good news is frantic efforts are being made to explore other possible areas, especially in the treatment of spinal cord injury, traumatic head injury, hair loss, and so on.

Until then, here are some of the areas LLLT is currently utilized.

 

1. Treatment of Inflammation

Photobiomodulation is considered a safe and efficient procedure for treating inflammation because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

It has been applied successfully in clinical practices to treat inflamed tissues especially those caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

 

2. To Heal Long-Lasting Wounds Faster

The ability of the light to trigger natural healing processes has made it ideal for healing wounds, especially long-lasting ones.

It does this by initiating an increased production of adenosine triphosphate, which is an organic chemical that is responsible for driving the body’s metallic processes.

 

3. To Relief Body Pain

Cold laser therapy is also used to treat chronic pain conditions.

It reliefs pain by decreasing the production of bradykinin, a chemical that is responsible for eliciting pain while at the same time releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer.

 

4. In Acupuncture

The use of LLLT in acupuncture might sound surprising to most people. This is because it is difficult to think of an acupuncture procedure without needles piercing the body in scary points.

But advancement in medical laser therapy has made this possible and this is good news to those who are scared of needles.

So cold laser beam can be used to stimulate the acupuncture points to achieve the same effects as those scary needles.

 

5. For Skin Treatment

LLLT can also be used to treat various skin conditions like acne and edema.

It reduces the formation of scars and fibrous tissues as a result of tissue damages from cuts, scratches, and burns.

 

And Here Are The Benefits of LLLT

The therapy has been proven to be a safe procedure for the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions. So it wouldn’t hurt trying it out.

But if you are still skeptical about this procedure, here are just a few reasons why you should consider it.

 

1. Low Downtime

Unlike traditional procedures that take a lot of time to administer, cold laser therapy requires just a few minutes.

All it demands is enough time to allow the tissue to absorb the beam and this is usually between 3-20 minutes.

 

2. It’s Painless

Cold therapies can neither heat body tissues nor cuts through them, so the procedure is literally painless.

In fact, some patients reported that they felt a slight soothing sensation. This might be as a result of the increased blood flow around the treated area.

 

3. It’s Non-Invasive

If you are scared of needles or having any part of your skin cut open, then you might consider this procedure.

It does not require cutting open or puncturing any part of the skin.

 

4. Can Be Self-Administered

The procedures require minimal effort so you don’t have to necessarily go to a hospital to be treated with cold lasers.

All you have to do is get a cold laser device that is cleared for home use.

 

Side Effects

Are there any side effects?

The short answer to the question is NO. Sure, there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration, which we lay down below.

In fact, many home-use devices are FDA clear for the treatment of a number of conditions and the procedure is currently in use in many clinics across the world.

But this doesn’t mean there are no precautions. There are certain red lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

It shouldn’t be used on cancerous lesions and great care must be taken to avoid contact with the eyes especially during home use.

The procedure must not be carried out on pregnant women. Effects on unborn children have not been ascertained yet so it’s better not to.

 

Low-level Laser Therapy and Animals

The technology behind this relatively unknown therapy has been around for about 4 decades now. Although growing in popularity, it is still a relatively new concept in veterinary practices.

But the good news is that it can be used on pets as well, with success.

It can be used as a painless monotherapy or complementary therapy to treat pets with orthopedic injuries, which suffer from arthritis or have scar tissues.

The process is the same: the laser energizes the mitochondria to speed up the production of adenosine triphosphate. This will lead to an increase in the production of collagen which is essential for successful healing.

The therapy will not only speed up the healing process but it will also affect the overall quality of the repaired tissue. It is considered safe for animals, just like in humans.

The good thing about this procedure for animals, especially dogs is that they don’t need to be shaved or tied to a place or sedated before the treatment.

 

Wrapping It All Up

Unlike invasive treatments, cold laser therapy offers physicians a veritable procedure to carry out medical processes without making an incision on the body.

The use of amplified light to stimulate tissue regeneration is a necessary process for natural healing to take place.

This procedure offers a harmless and painless treatment for a wide range of medical conditions like chronic pain and inflammation.

The effect of the therapy is cumulative over time. This means the more treatment you take, the better the effect will be. So it is important that you stick to the routine.

Luckily, you can use the technology at home also.

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