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Dose Red Light Therapy Work For Weight Loss

Red light therapy (also called low-intensity laser therapy or infrared light) is an emerging non-invasive fat removal treatment.

Although it sounds too good to be true, proponents of red light therapy claim it helps remove “stubborn” fat that diet and exercise can’t get rid of. However, many health experts are skeptical about its benefits.

So you may be wondering if it’s worth a try.

This article reviews red light weight loss therapy, including its benefits, downsides, and risks.

What is Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy, better known as low-intensity laser therapy (LLLT), is a non-invasive procedure that can be performed in a doctor’s office.

It’s a popular form of body sculpting—a non-invasive procedure that claims to remove fat cells without surgery.

The procedure uses a low-irradiance laser that emits wavelengths of red, blue, and infrared light about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) into the skin. It targets the fat layer just below the skin’s surface.

While its mechanism is unclear and controversial, a common theory is that LLLT temporarily breaks down part of the cell membrane. This allows stored fat cells to seep out, shrink, and be removed through the body’s natural waste removal process.

When you attend a laser treatment, a trained professional, such as a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon, will hold the laser on each treatment area for 10-40 minutes. Most clinics recommend at least six treatments to see results.

There is no downtime required, and you can return to your normal activities immediately after the session. However, a healthy diet and exercise are strongly recommended.

 

Does it work for weight loss

Red light therapy for weight loss is very controversial. Despite positive patient testimonies and impressive results from various studies, many researchers and healthcare professionals are skeptical of its purported benefits.

To date, multiple studies have found benefits for LLLT, or red light therapy.

A recent 6-week pilot study of 60 people found that twice-weekly LLLT treatments reduced waist circumference by 0.8 inches (2 cm). However, these findings were limited by the lack of a control group.

Another randomized, double-blind study of 67 people showed that those who received six LLLT treatments for 2 weeks lost significantly more weight in the abdomen, hips, and thighs than the control group (3.5 inches or 8.9 cm).

Additionally, a two-week study of 86 people at a clinic in the United States found significant reductions in waist circumference (1.1 inches or 2.8 cm), hip circumference (0.8 inches or 2 cm), and thigh circumference (1.2 inches or 3 cm). However, this study lacked a control group.

Finally, a study in 40 people compared the effects of LLLT treatment on upper arm circumference to a placebo.

After two weeks, the LLLT group had a significant reduction in upper arm circumference of 1.5 inches (3.7 cm), while the control group showed no change.

These studies and several others appear to show some benefits of using LLLT for weight loss.

While most studies have observed benefits of LLLT treatment, there is a lack of consistency between them. Additionally, there is little data to show whether the results are long-term or clinically relevant.

Disadvantages and Risks

If you want to try red light therapy, it’s important to understand some of its disadvantages.

 

Cost

The biggest disadvantage of red light therapy is its cost.

While this depends on your location, a package of six treatments can cost between $2,000 and $4,000, which is not financially feasible for most people.

 

May Not Be Right for Everyone

Most studies to date have been conducted on individuals with a BMI of 25-30, so its effectiveness in people outside of that BMI range is unclear.

Additionally, most study participants were white, which makes its effectiveness in other ethnic groups questionable.

Most studies show that a healthy lifestyle is the most effective way to lose weight. Healthy lifestyle tips include eating nutrient-dense, low-processed foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing stress levels.

 

Adverse Effects

Most studies to date have shown that red light therapy is safe, and no major side effects have been reported.

However, in one study using LLLT, two participants experienced severe skin damage. This appeared to be attributed to the direct contact of the laser with the skin, which was not the case in other studies.

Always speak with a qualified professional before trying red light therapy.

 

Recommendations

Red light therapy (or low-intensity laser therapy (LLLT)) may produce modest fat and weight loss. Still, the effects appear to be modest at best. If you want to try red light therapy, it’s best to see a qualified healthcare provider, such as a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon, who can evaluate your health and provide tailored recommendations.

You don’t need red light therapy to lose weight, though. Following a diet consisting of minimally processed foods and adopting a regular exercise regimen can help you achieve the calorie deficit you need to lose weight.

 

Summary

Red light therapy (or low-intensity laser therapy (LLLT)) may result in modest weight and fat loss. That said, adopting a healthy diet and exercise regimen may be a more sustainable way to achieve long-term weight loss.

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