Battling the Winter BLUES?

Dr Kim Prescott explains how LED light therapy can make a difference.

Having spent nearly half my life in Cape Town, I often find this time of year challenging, and statistics suggest that I am not alone. Shorter days with less exposure to natural light make it harder to stay mentally and physically healthy. If you, like me, struggle with the lack of sunlight, then you might be interested to discover that one of the latest celebrity skin rejuvenation treatments, LED Light Therapy, can also help anyone suffering from a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is thought to affect 1 in 3 people in the UK over Winter. Certain people seem to be more sensitive to it, and women are affected 40% more commonly than men. If you’re not able to escape to the sun during what I call the grey months, a regular dose of light therapy can improve symptoms like irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, sleep abnormalities and muscles aches.

Is There Really any Scientific Evidence for Light Therapy?

Numerous clinical studies have indeed shown that exposure to natural red and near-infrared light helps the body become more efficient at improving cellular function, helping to improve healing, recovery, physical performance and restful sleep, and to reduce oxidative stress. Another noticeable benefit has been shown to be an improvement in sleep. Emerging evidence also suggests that red light therapy can help improve symptoms of depression, and in some centres, LED Therapy is now being used in the management of mood disorders.

In the skin, LED Therapy is used to treat a number of conditions that require stimulation of healing and relief of inflammation including helping to manage wrinkles, acne scars, hypertrophic scars and healing of burns. It’s role in skin rejuvenation is through its ability to increase collagen production and decrease collagen degradation.

How does LED Light Therapy Work?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes. Our skin has the ability to absorb certain wavelengths of light and to use it to regulate and stimulate biological processes. LED Light Therapy has been around for over 40 years, having been extensively researched by NASA for its ability to protect astronauts from the effects of low gravity, but the mechanisms are not yet fully understood. The application of beneficial wavelengths of LED in the skin can set in motion processes that effect the whole body, but certain combinations of blue, red and near infra-red wavelengths are used as a powerful, yet gentle, treatment for skin rejuvenation. Skin cells which have been energised by the LED therapy function better and have been shown to renew themselves up to 200% faster, accelerating regeneration and repair. This helps explain why such a gentle, yet effective treatment is becoming increasingly popular, used by those in the limelight, from young celebrities like Cara Delevigne to Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss.

What Else is Light Therapy Used for?

  • Increase hydration
  • Boost collagen production
  • Calm redness and irritation
  • Reduce the bacteria leading to inflamed acne
  • Improve stretchmarks and scarring
  • Reduce redness and downtime after skin resurfacing treatments
  • Improve the appearance of cellulite
  • Reduce hair loss

So whether you are battling a case of the Blues, or simply feeling sluggish or grumpy, try to spend as much time as you can outdoors in the daylight hours (with some brisk exercise too, where possible). Failing that, head down to your nearest dermatology or aesthetic clinic for a session under the lights. I am very fortunate to have been invited to tropical Miami for the Cosmetic Surgery Conference in a couple of weeks, so will be sure to take full advantage of a mood-lifting dose of winter sun.

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