By Aliki Chatzilias, MSc.
Clinical Biochemist/Medical Researcher


Acne scarring is a common and distressing condition affecting millions of people worldwide. The aftermath of severe acne can lead to various types of scarring, including atrophic, hypertrophic, and keloid scars, which can negatively impact the skin's texture and appearance. One promising treatment option that has gained significant attention is LED therapy.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) therapy involves the use of specific wavelengths of light to stimulate various cellular processes within the skin. This non-invasive treatment offers an alternative to more aggressive methods, such as laser therapy or chemical peels, with minimal side effects and downtime.


Understanding Acne Scarring

Acne scarring occurs as a result of the body's natural healing process in response to inflamed acne lesions. When the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin, is damaged, the body attempts to repair it by producing collagen fibers. However, the quality and quantity of collagen produced during this process can be inconsistent, leading to different types of scars.

Atrophic scars form when there is a loss of collagen, resulting in depressions in the skin. In contrast, hypertrophic and keloid scars occur due to excessive collagen production, leading to raised and thickened areas on the skin's surface. Apart from the physical impact, acne scarring can have significant emotional and psychological effects, causing reduced self-esteem and social withdrawal.


Introduction to LED Therapy

LED therapy is a non-thermal and non-ablative treatment that involves the application of specific wavelengths of light to the skin. The therapy harnesses the power of light to stimulate various cellular processes and promote healing. The two primary wavelengths used in LED therapy for acne scarring are blue light and red light.

Blue light, with a wavelength of approximately 415 nanometers, targets the acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). By eliminating these bacteria, blue light helps reduce inflammation and prevent new acne breakouts, contributing to the improvement of acne scars. On the other hand, red light, with a wavelength of around 633 nanometers, penetrates deeper into the skin and stimulates collagen production. This collagen-stimulating effect is crucial for filling in atrophic scars and improving overall skin texture.


How LED Therapy Heals Acne Scarring

LED therapy exerts its healing effects on acne scarring through multiple mechanisms. When blue light is applied to the skin, it triggers a photochemical reaction within P. acnes, leading to the destruction of the bacteria. This antibacterial action helps alleviate inflammation and reduce the redness associated with acne scars.

Additionally, blue light can help regulate sebum production, contributing to a reduction in future acne breakouts. Red light, on the other hand, has a profound impact on collagen synthesis. As red light penetrates into the dermal layer, it stimulates fibroblasts, the cells responsible for producing collagen. This upregulation of collagen production helps plump and smoothen the skin, diminishing the appearance of atrophic scars. Moreover, increased collagen levels enhance the skin's elasticity and firmness, promoting an overall rejuvenated appearance.


Scientific Evidence and Studies

Numerous scientific studies have investigated the efficacy of LED therapy in treating acne scars. A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment compared LED therapy with a placebo for atrophic acne scars. The study found that LED therapy significantly improved scar appearance, with a visible reduction in scar depth and volume. Another study in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy focused on red LED light's effects on collagen production. Researchers observed a significant increase in collagen fibers after a series of LED treatments, leading to visible improvements in skin texture and elasticity. These findings are consistent with other studies that highlight the potential of LED therapy as a safe and effective treatment for acne scars.


LED Therapy vs. Other Acne Scar Treatments

Compared to other conventional acne scar treatments like chemical peels and laser therapy, LED therapy offers several distinct advantages. Firstly, LED therapy is non-invasive and does not involve the use of harsh chemicals or ablative techniques, making it well-tolerated by most individuals. Unlike laser treatments that may require downtime and cause temporary redness or swelling, LED therapy has minimal side effects and allows individuals to resume their regular activities immediately after the session.

Additionally, LED therapy is generally more affordable than many other treatment options, making it accessible to a broader range of individuals seeking acne scar solutions. Moreover, LED therapy complements other treatments well. For instance, it can be used in combination with chemical peels to enhance the overall results and improve post-peel healing. Similarly, LED therapy can be used as an adjunct to fractional laser treatments to optimize collagen stimulation and hasten the skin's recovery process.


The Process of LED Therapy Treatment

The process of LED therapy for acne scarring is relatively straightforward and typically takes place in a dermatologist's or skincare professional's office. The first step is a thorough skin assessment by the healthcare provider to determine the type and severity of acne scarring. Once the assessment is complete, the LED therapy session begins. During the treatment, the patient is positioned comfortably, and protective eyewear may be provided to shield the eyes from the LED light.

The LED device emits the chosen wavelength(s) of light onto the affected areas of the skin, ensuring adequate coverage and exposure to the therapeutic light. The duration of each session may vary depending on the specific LED device used and the targeted skin concerns. In general, treatments last between 15 to 30 minutes.


Precautions and Side Effects

LED therapy is generally considered safe for most individuals; however, there are some precautions and potential side effects to be aware of. People with photosensitivity or those taking photosensitizing medications may not be suitable candidates for LED therapy. It is crucial to disclose any medications or medical conditions to the treating professional before starting treatment.

Additionally, pregnant women should avoid LED therapy due to the lack of data on its safety during pregnancy. While LED therapy is non-thermal and non-ablative, some individuals may experience mild redness or sensitivity after treatment. These side effects are usually transient and resolve within a few hours. To minimize potential risks and ensure the best results, it is essential to seek LED therapy from a qualified and experienced dermatologist or skincare professional.


DIY LED Therapy at Home

Advancements in technology have led to the availability of at-home LED therapy devices, allowing individuals to perform LED treatments in the comfort of their homes. DIY LED therapy devices come in various forms, such as handheld devices, masks, or light panels. These devices are often equipped with both blue and red LED lights, providing the benefits of both wavelengths for treating acne and improving scarring. While at-home LED therapy is convenient and cost-effective, it comes with some cautions. Home devices typically have lower energy levels than professional-grade equipment, which may require more frequent use to achieve comparable results.

Additionally, using at-home LED devices may not be as precise as professional treatments, and the efficacy can vary depending on the user's skin type and the severity of acne scarring. It is essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and avoid overusing the device, as excessive LED exposure can lead to adverse effects. Individuals considering DIY LED therapy should consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional beforehand to ensure that it is safe and suitable for their specific skin concerns.


Real-life Success Stories

Numerous individuals have experienced positive results from LED therapy in treating acne scarring. Testimonials and success stories from people who have undergone LED treatments can provide valuable insights into the treatment's effectiveness. Many users have reported significant improvements in the appearance of their acne scars, with reductions in scar depth, hyperpigmentation, and overall skin texture.

These success stories often emphasize the non-invasiveness and comfort of LED therapy, making it a preferred choice for individuals seeking less aggressive yet effective solutions for their acne scarring. Before-and-after images can be compelling evidence of the treatment's impact, showcasing the visible changes in the skin after a series of LED therapy sessions.



LED therapy presents a promising and non-invasive approach to address acne scarring and rejuvenate the skin. By harnessing the power of specific light wavelengths, LED therapy can stimulate collagen production, reduce inflammation, and target acne-causing bacteria. Scientific evidence from various studies supports the efficacy and safety of LED therapy, making it a viable treatment option for individuals seeking to improve the appearance of their acne scars. When compared to other conventional treatments, LED therapy stands out for its minimal side effects, affordability, and compatibility with other procedures. While at-home LED devices offer convenience, it is crucial to exercise caution and consult with a professional before embarking on DIY treatments.

To fully benefit from LED therapy for acne scarring, it is essential to receive treatments from a qualified and experienced dermatologist or skincare professional. Individualized treatment plans can address specific skin concerns and ensure optimal results. The road to smoother and rejuvenated skin may vary for each person, but with dedication and patience, LED therapy can be a transformative journey towards regaining confidence and a clearer complexion.