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What Is It: Lightwave LED treatment

April 1, 2008 Reviewed by Marta 15 Comments

Today I visited my esthetician, Ildi Pekar, for my usual microdermabrasion and microcurrent session. Only this time, I followed it up with a 30-minute treatment for wrinkles and hyperpigmentation using LED light therapy. It was a great experience: completely safe and comfortable with immediate visible results. I'll come back to the results after explaining how it works.

LED is light emitting diode with a low-level power output that uses red light (visible) and infra-red light (invisible). LED is much gentler than intense pulse light (IPL) or laser resurfacing. It works by stimulating the body's tissues to convert the light energy into cellular energy. It boosts collagen production and scavenger cells that remove excess pigmentation or scar tissue.

In Europe, LED has been used for about 50 years to treat muscular pain, scars and wounds. It came to be used in the US relatively recently in the 1980s.

The machine Ildi uses is called Lightwave. It seems to be very flexible, with multiple settings depending on whether the therapy is, for example, for wrinkles or age spots. I had simultaneous treatments on my face, decollete and hands. The red light is extremely bright (you wear goggles) and lasts for four minutes, followed by the infra-red light, which is just blackness. This is repeated four times. It feels slightly, agreeably warm.

The effects are interesting. The first thing I did was look in the mirror. I looked as if I'd been on a spa vacation - all luminous and rested. I then noticed that I was extremely thirsty; lymphatic drainage is increased by the treatment. About an hour later, it occurred to me that my mood was noticeably improved; one of the other (good) side-effects is that the endorphins are stimulated.

Two and half hours after the treatment, I still look rested and my skin feels incredibly firm. My freckles are notably darker (I've been told that IPL makes dark spots darker before they disappear, so this may be a similar process) and I am a bit pink at the neck. It will be interesting to see what I look like in a couple of days and, of course, after the full six to eight treatments recommended.

UPDATE: In October 2008, German researchers identified how the visible light works — by changing the molecular structure of a glue-like layer of water on elastin, the protein that provides elasticity in skin, blood vessels, heart and other body structures. The light strips away those water molecules that are involved in the immobilization of elastin, gradually restoring its elastic function and thus reducing facial wrinkles. "We are justified in believing that our approach can be easily converted to deep body rejuvenation programs," the researchers state.

  • February 18, 2012

    by ron jones

    <a href="">Light Relief</a> is a good infrared device that us infrared light to relive pains

  • December 22, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Carolyn, I'm a bit confused about NuLase. They call it "soft laser light". I don't know what that is, but its not LED. Their website is very vague about the technology.

  • December 22, 2010

    by Carolyn

    Hi Marta,

    Do you know anything about NuLase? I purchased this a few years ago but I gave up on it because it didn't seem to be doing anything. There is a small red light at the end of the wand that I think they claim is an infrared light.
    Thank you.

  • November 15, 2010

    by Kari

    Hi Martha,

    If anyone is looking for a great place to get light therapy, please feel free to have them visit our locator page at All our providers do an excellent job at administering light therapy.

    I have also been a certified trainer for LIGHTWAVE for the past 6 years and can tell you that there is definitely a big difference between LED delivery systems. In order for light therapy to work it must be powerful enough and have a long enough exposure time or dose to deliver photon energy into the body especially since LED is scattered light particles. It also needs to be the correct wavelengths so the cells absorb the photon energy instead of reflecting it or allowing it to pass right through. The delivery system can make all the difference between no results and great results. LED light therapy works wonderfully if administered correctly.
    It is a great technology!

  • February 1, 2010

    by marta

    LED is not a photofacial. The photofacial is usually IPL. This is explained in this post:

  • February 1, 2010

    by 1ofnoother

    Hi Marta,

    So are these LEDs the same thing as a photo facial? If not, what are the differences between the two? I heard photo facials can use LED or IPLs. I actually found this post after reading the one about the PDT, which is supposed to be like a "super photo facial." What are the differences with these treatments then, and how can one determine which kind will be best suitable for them?

    Similar to Lim, I'm also looking for a spa where I can try the LED treatment and also start booking monthly facials. At least the basic kind for preventive care. I live in Yorba Linda, CA, but I don't really mind traveling to places in the O.C. I've tried looking for trustworthy places on, but haven't really found anything that looked too promising. Do you have any suggestions for places, or where I can track down spas? Thank you!

  • October 26, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Hi Lim<br />
    The DPL is an at-home device that should be compared with the Baby Quasar. It won't have anything like the strength of a salon machine and I would never pay an esthetician to do something I could do myself. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p>

    <p>As for a salon recommendation. I don't know Seattle (something I will need to rectify), but Allure magazine likes Napaolitano Day Spa. They have the Lightwave LED and they offer microcurrent. The prices are good - compared to NYC. They use Jan Marini products - not my favorite, but very reliable and often using interesting hi-tech ingredients. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p>

    <p>I have also come across Bio-Therapeutic, about which something appeals to me: <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p>

  • October 25, 2008

    by lim

    <p>Forgot to add that I am in the Seattle,Wa USA.</p>

  • October 25, 2008

    by Lim

    <p>Hi Marta</p>

    <p>I've been looking into Led Light therapy in my area. I know your salon uses the Lightwave machine and your session last at least 30 mins. The salon in my area uses a machine DPL Device and it run 9 mins per treatment suggesting 2 treatments daily for a month. This suggests to me that the machines doesn't work as well and that is why it requires more sessions. My questions are.</p>

    <p>1) What is the difference the two machines. </p>

    <p>2) Do you know of a good salon or person(s) providing this service? Please let me know. </p>

    <p>Thanks in advance.</p>

  • September 16, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Well it doesn't look bad. The wavelengths are similar to the Baby Q and it has infrared. You'd have to wear eye protection as its a full face panel. There are fewer reviews than for the BQ, but the few I found were mostly positive.</p>

  • September 16, 2008

    by Kathy

    <p>Marta,<br />
    I'm trying to find an at home LED device that could work as well as your salon treatments. What about this one? What do you think?</p>

    <p><a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> It's less expensive than the Baby Q. What LED settings should one look for?<br />

  • September 2, 2008

    by marta

    <p>I doubt it. But we'll know soon because I am starting it today. I'll post later and give regular progress reports</p>

  • September 2, 2008

    by Kathy

    <p>So you feel the Baby Quasar could be just as good for your skin as the salon LED?</p>

  • August 28, 2008

    by marta

    <p>I don't think so because at the salon there is red light AND infra-red (which I believe I can replicate at home with a Baby Quasar - I've ordered one so we'll see). The Tanda doesn't have infra-red as far as I can tell.</p>

  • August 28, 2008

    by Kathy

    <p>Marta, would the at-home devices such as Tanda Clear skin (which has red light head) be comparable to what you're getting at the salon?<br />

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