The use of light emitting diodes (LEDs) to improve skin tone and texture has gained prominence in some offices and spas. Previous studies were performed by manufacturers and suggested some improvement in fine lines. Recently there was an independant study evaluating the effectiveness of Gentlewaves, one of the most commonly used units.
In the study, 42 patients with photoaging were treated around the eye weekly for 8 weeks. Digital photos were taken before and after the treatments. The patients were then asked their impression of the treatment results, and the raters, 30 blinded physicians were given unlabeled copies of the photographs and asked to pick the one that looked better. The physicians and patients were asked to evaluate general appearance, skin roughness, redness, wrinkles and dark spots.
Most of the patients felt that all of these parameters were improved. but only 17% said they would be willing to pay for the treatments. However, neither the treating physicians nor the blinded evaluators could see any differences between the before and after photos.
There is certainly a placebo effect produced by the flashing lights, but there is no good study indicating any effectiveness of any of the LED devices. Save your money for something that works.
Gerald N. Bock MD
California Skin & Laser Center
Stockton & Lodi, CA