What is Blue Light Therapy?

Blue light therapy is a treatment that uses light to improve and treat various skin conditions. The blue light is special because it has specific wavelengths that can kill certain types of bacteria on the skin and reduce inflammation.

The therapy is simple and non-invasive, meaning it doesn’t involve any cuts or surgery. You just sit or lie under a light for a specified amount of time as directed by a healthcare provider.

Blue light therapy can also be used for other skin issues like sun damage and certain types of skin cancer, but its effectiveness for these conditions can vary.

How do you prepare for Blue Light Therapy?

  • Please avoid prolonged sun exposure 2 weeks pre-and 2 weeks post-procedure. You will need to stay out of direct sunlight at least 1-3 days.
  • If your face or scalp is being treated, be sure to bring a large or wide-brimmed hat to block the sun on your trip home.
  • If you have a history of cold sores, please let us know so we can send in a prescription for prophylaxis.
  • Have analgesics available to take as needed.

Why is Blue Light Therapy performed?

Blue light therapy is used to treat sun damaged, premalignant, and malignant lesions by using photosensitizing agents with the specific bluelight wavelengths to destroy abnormal skin cells.

What can you expect during Blue Light Therapy?

  • Application of Levulan: First, the Levulan, a photosensitizing agent, is applied to the targeted skin areas. It’s a special medication that makes skin cells more sensitive to light. After application, there’s a waiting period, of 1 hour, to allow the Levulan to penetrate the skin cells. This waiting time can vary based on your specific treatment plan.
  • Incubation Period: During this time, you might be asked to sit in a waiting area. It’s important to avoid direct sunlight and bright indoor light as your skin will be very sensitive to light during this period.
  • Blue Light Exposure: Once the Levulan has been absorbed, you’ll be placed under a blue light source. This exposure usually lasts about 20 minutes. The blue light activates the Levulan, which helps to destroy abnormal skin cells or bacteria.
  • Sensation During Treatment: You might feel a tingling, burning, or warmth on your skin during the light exposure. This is normal but can be uncomfortable.
  • End of Session: After the light treatment, the area is cleaned, and you may be given a sunscreen or post-treatment cream to protect and soothe the skin.

What is the followup and recovery like for Blue Light Therapy?

  • Immediate Aftercare: Your skin will be sensitive to light for the next 48 hours, so it’s crucial to avoid direct sunlight and bright indoor lights. Follow any specific aftercare instructions given by your healthcare provider to help manage sensitivity and promote healing.
  • Recovery: Post-treatment, you might experience redness, swelling, and crusting of the treated areas. These are typical reactions and part of the healing process. The skin usually heals over one to two weeks.

What are the potential costs for Blue Light Therapy?

Blue light therapy is usually covered by insurance. Coverage is more likely if the treatment is for medical reasons (like treating precancerous lesions) rather than cosmetic reasons (like mild acne). It’s important to check with your insurance provider to understand what portion of the cost they will cover.

What are the potential risks for Blue Light Therapy?

  • Skin Sensitivity: The most immediate effect is increased skin sensitivity, especially to sunlight and bright indoor light. This sensitivity can last up to 48 hours after treatment. It’s crucial to avoid sunlight and protect your skin during this time to prevent burns and damage.
  • Redness and Swelling: The treated areas typically become red and may swell shortly after treatment. This reaction is usually temporary but can be uncomfortable.
  • Pain or Discomfort: During the light exposure, you might experience sensations of burning, stinging, or itching. This discomfort generally subsides shortly after the session ends.
  • Skin Changes: After treatment, the skin may peel or form a crust. This is part of the healing process but can be concerning if unexpected. In some cases, temporary changes in skin coloration, such as hyperpigmentation (darkening) or hypopigmentation (lightening), may occur.
  • Infection: Although rare, there is a small risk of infection, particularly if the skin is not properly cared for after treatment.
  • Allergic Reaction: Some people may have an allergic reaction to the photosensitizing agent used in the procedure.
  • Scarring: Very rarely, the treatment could lead to scarring, especially if the skin’s reaction is severe or if an infection occurs.

Are there related procedures to Blue Light Therapy?

  • Red Light Therapy: Similar to blue light therapy, red light therapy uses a different wavelength that can penetrate deeper into the skin. It’s often used for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties, helping to reduce wrinkles, scars, and redness.
  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): IPL uses multiple wavelengths of light to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as sun damage, age spots, rosacea, and some types of acne. It’s more versatile than single-wavelength light therapies and can also help with hair removal.
  • Laser Treatments: There are many types of laser treatments that target different skin concerns. For example, fractional lasers can treat deeper skin issues like severe acne scars and wrinkles by creating micro-damages that stimulate the skin’s healing process.
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): While blue light therapy with Levulan is a type of PDT, there are other forms of PDT that use different light sources, such as red light or lasers. PDT is particularly effective for treating precancerous skin lesions and certain types of cancer because the photosensitizing agent used can target abnormal cells more precisely.
  • LED Light Therapy: This therapy uses panels of light-emitting diodes (LED) to expose the skin to various wavelengths, including blue, red, and sometimes near-infrared. Each color penetrates different levels of the skin to treat issues like acne, inflammation, and signs of aging.
  • Ultraviolet Light Therapy: Used primarily for skin conditions like psoriasis and vitiligo, ultraviolet (UV) light therapy involves exposure to specific ranges of UV light. This type of therapy is carefully controlled to minimize the risk of skin damage.