There's a new treatment in clinics called photobiomodulation that claims to be able to treat acne without pain or discomfort. Does it really work?

Doctor's Answer

Thank you for your question.

Photobiomodulation has been used in a variety of conditions because of its regenerative properties. It refers to the use of low-level laser light to activate pathways in the skin cell’s powerhouse known as mitochondria, that accelerate tissue repair and healing.

Photobiomodulation is used for anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and wound healing purposes on the skin, and has beneficial effects on active acne, wrinkles, pigmentation, acne marks, as well as sensitive skin.

Because of the low intensive and non-invasive nature of the treatment, photobiomodulation is completely free of side effects that you might otherwise encounter with other acne treatment modalities like lasers or chemical peels. It is famously used by NASA in space for their astronauts when they discovered healing effects for the skin and even joints accidentally during research for other purposes.

Acne is characterised by an increase in sebum production, accumulation and plugging of shed keratin and sebum in the follicle, with subsequent buildup of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, and resultant inflammation.

Photobiomodulation has been proven effective in treating acne. 415nm blue light wavelength targets and kills Propionibacterium acnes bacteria which causes acne, 633nm red light wavelength reduces inflammation and disrupts sebaceous glands, while 830 near-infrared light wavelength travels deeper down the skin to help with cell energy and healing, minimising scars left behind by acne lesions.

In a study [1] conducted in 2006, individuals with mild to severe facial acne were treated with a series of alternating 415 nm blue light and 633nm red light treatments. After 3 months, an average of 80% improvement in acne lesions was observed in these individuals.

Do consult your doctor for an examination and assessment of your skin condition, to see if you are suitable for photobiomodulation therapy. Hope this is helpful for you!


[1] Goldberg DJ, Russell BA. Combination blue (415 nm) and red (633 nm) LED phototherapy in the treatment of mild to severe acne vulgaris. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2006 Jun;8(2):71-5. doi: 10.1080/14764170600735912. PMID: 16766484.

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