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7 factors to consider when buying an LLLT device

Jeff Braile

You’ve read about the benefits of low-level light therapy (LLLT), and you’re ready to give it a try. But a quick Internet search reveals there are many devices on the market. So how do you choose the best option? Which device will get you the best results? What features are most important? How much will an effective option cost?

You could spend hours comparing and contrasting different options, but ultimately there are seven qualities that you should look for to distinguish the most effective treatments from those that might leave you with buyer’s remorse.

1. Handheld vs. wearable vs. tabletop. Both handheld and tabletop devices are more convenient than a trip to the doctor’s office, but wearables are the best choice for LLLT applications like skin care and hair growth. The reason is simple: consistency.

Wearable devices deliver constant, uniform doses to the target area during the treatment, making each session highly consistent which leads to enhanced efficacy. Handheld devices, on the other hand, tend to be used differently each time and therefore provide less consistent therapy. Tabletop devices fall short in a different way, failing to provide thorough LLLT coverage to targeted treatment areas.

2. Dosage. According to the Arndt-Schulz dose response curve, a widely cited scale measuring the response of tissue to various forms of LLLT, the most efficient dosage for LLLT peaks between 3 and 4 joules, though treatments can be effective with as little as 0.5 joules.

Based on this, wearable, handheld, or table top units delivering and energy level within this range should be most effective. Handheld devices will almost never reach this level as they have a limited footprint and are typically underpowered. With table top units or other standing devices, the distance to the light source typically prohibits accurate dosing as it constantly changes due to user positioning. Wearables tend to be more effective at delivering dependable light therapy.

3. Independent verification. Before buying an LLLT device, do some research to determine if the devices you’re interested in have received FDA clearance and undergone electrical safety testing, which you can usually find on the company’s website. The best products will also be backed with double-blind clinical testing that’s been published in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, investigate the company that manufactured the device. A reputable vendor should have global reach, and should maintain the ISO 13485 standard, a quality management certification for medical device makers.

4. Power source. Consider the source – the power source, that is. Battery-operated devices will experience variation in ampage and wattage, and their efficacy depends on the size and strength of the battery. Because higher currents lead to better LED performance, the best results come from plug-in LLLT devices, which can be used at home or in an office setting. Since most LLLT treatments take less than 25 minutes, it’s not worth sacrificing results for convenience.

5. LEDs vs. lasers. In a device aimed at a small area of the body, a laser works very well, producing a monochromatic beam at a specific wavelength. LEDs, however, are more effective over a larger area, like the face or scalp. The majority of LLLT, especially home use devices use only LEDs. The best published clinical results for hair growth have been from a combination of lasers and LEDs.

6. Wavelength. Today’s LLLT devices use precise wavelengths to treat and manage a variety of conditions, like hair loss and back pain. Using the spectrum from blue light (415 to 420 nm) to red light (650 and 670 nm) to infrared light (700 nm and 1 mm), patients can treat acne, hair loss, and pain with LLLT. In fact, infrared light can alleviate a wide range of ailments, including arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle sprains and strains. Coupled with other wavelengths, infrared light is a powerful tool for improving skin care and hair growth.

Before purchasing an LLLT device, research which wavelength it operates at, and if that wavelength has been proven by clinical research to effectively treat your condition.

7. A company with global reach. LEDs are readily available, so any hobbyist can buy some LED strips and try to pass off their own LLLT device. But would you rather buy that invention, or one from a more reputable company backed by science that manufactures products to global safety standards?

Before buying an LLLT device, do your research to find global companies producing LLLT devices supported by credible clinical testing and research. For an LLLT device, you shouldn’t shop based on price alone, but on the science behind it. Plus, companies should have established, international commercial roots; in other words, they shouldn’t just ship to other countries, but should have a local presence as well. If you see a device is only available on the web, you might want to do some investigating.

Selecting an LLLT device
As LLLT technology grows in popularity, more devices will come to the market promising miracle cures. Don’t buy the cheapest option or the one that promises everything; rather, first consider these seven characteristics of a good LLLT device. By finding the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to make the right choice for your next LLLT device.

Do you want to know more about LLLT devices? Have questions we didn’t answer in this post? Leave us a comment to start a discussion.

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