6 Advantages of LED Red Light Therapy vs Laser

Jul 22, 2022 | Laurie Velger

Medically reviewed by Karen Wolters, RN and Joanna Fearnley, LPN

Red Light Therapy Pad on Knee
Red Light Therapy Pad on Knee for Pain Relief

Since the 1960s, thousands of scientific studies have proven the benefits of treating the human body with light. This process is known as “photobiomodulation.”

What is Photobiomodulation?

“Photobiomodu-lation (PBM) is a treatment method based on research findings showing that irradiation with certain wavelengths of red or near-infrared light has been shown to produce a range of physiological effects in cells, tissues, animals and humans.”

The two technologies most highly regarded for photobiomodulation are laser (an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) and LED (light-emitting diode) red light therapy devices. Both of these technologies have proven to be beneficial for the treatment of a wide variety of chronic diseases, particularly musculoskeletal issues.

“For over forty years, low level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) and LED (light emitting diode) therapy (also known as photobiomodulation) has been shown to reduce inflammation and edema, induce analgesia, and promote healing in a range of musculoskeletal pathologies.”

LED Red Light Therapy vs Laser

Although lasers and LED Therapy pads are based on the same science, there are many differences between these two technologies. If you are trying to decide which therapy device is better for your personal use, here are six advantages of LED Red Light Therapy vs Laser:

1. No Safety Concerns with LED Therapy Pads

Unfortunately, lasers in the home pose certain risks, and the full burden of responsibility for safety is on the home user. If used incorrectly, lasers can potentially cause health hazards.

According to OSHA, “The human body is vulnerable to the output of certain lasers, and under certain circumstances, exposure can result in damage to the eye and skin.” Eyes are generally more vulnerable to laser damage than skin. “…high-powered lasers have the potential to irreversibly damage the eye, which can result in bilateral central visual acuity loss.”

264 Hands

Laser induced retinopathy (LIR) damage in children as well as adults can occur by unsupervised handling of a laser because, “There is a widespread lack of knowledge about the risks of viewing the beam emanating directly from handheld lasers, and particularly those with high-output powers.” But LED Therapy Pads have no known negative side effects, allowing them to be used without safety concerns. Dr. Michael Hamblin, a pioneer in the study of light therapy, states, “LED devices are considered totally harmless with no risk of eye damage or skin burns, and are ideally suited to home use.”

2. No Training Needed to Operate an LED Device

Because of the aforementioned risks that lasers pose, some degree of user training and education is necessary for safe operation. “A laser is as safe or as hazardous as the user – and that user’s knowledge and skill, defines how well laser safety is managed.”

But because LED Therapy pads pose little risk, no special training or education is necessary. Pads are simply placed on the body where needed, the LED therapy system is turned on, a setting may be selected, and the pads proceed to do their work. Most controllers will stop automatically and signal the conclusion of the therapy session.

Because operation is so simple, easy, and without risk, children as well as adults can safely treat themselves with LED Therapy pads!

3. LED Therapy Pads Have Much Larger Area Coverage

Light beams emitted from a laser are typically tiny to small in size. This can be a big limitation for quick and effective treatment of large body areas such as the back, the hip, or the leg. A laser would have to be frequently moved around in order to effectively treat these larger areas. But even the smallest LED Therapy pads provide much larger coverage than the spot size of a laser beam.

Foot Calf 600 x 600

Medium to large Red Light Therapy pads can even be wrapped around joints and limbs, so both the front and back can be treated simultaneously. And with LED Therapy Pads, configurations that target problems in specific body areas are available. For example, users with foot issues can purchase “boots” that wrap the foot and ankle, or the foot and calf, for more focused treatment.

4. Ease of Home Use

While safely using a laser requires some degree of education/training and vigilance, self-treatment using LED Therapy pads is amazingly simple and easy — so much so that many chiropractors have developed in-home LED red light pain therapy programs for their chronic pain patients, encouraging them to purchase a medical-grade red light therapy for self-treatment at home in addition to clinic visits. However, clinics that offer medical-grade laser therapy usually have these treatments performed by trained professionals in-clinic.

5. Users Can Engage in Other Activities While Being Treated

Lasers usually require that the eyes be kept closed, or that safety goggles are worn for ocular protection during treatments. But with LED Therapy pads, the eyes do not need protection, allowing the user to read or watch television. And if the hands are not being treated, users can work on a computer or tablet, or use a cell phone during therapy.

6. LED Devices Carry a Lower Price Tag

LED Red Light Therapy pads offer a lower and more attractive price tag than lasers. “LEDs are much cheaper than laser devices on average.“ The cost of a professional medical-grade handheld therapeutic laser can start at several thousand dollars and more, while professional, medical-grade LED devices usually start under $1,000, depending on the controller and the LED Therapy pads in the system.

Choose LED Red Light Therapy Pads and Choose HealthLight!

For these reasons and more, purchasing a Red Light/Infrared Therapy system rather than a laser for personal in-home therapy is a better choice for many people, especially those with issues that cover a large area of the body or disorders affecting the foot where a boot would be the most helpful. HealthLight makes the most powerful clinical strength LED Red Light/Infrared Therapy systems available.

Light Therapy systems from HealthLight are durable, high quality medical-grade devices for both clinics and consumers that deliver the optimum amount of joules for the best therapeutic outcomes. HealthLight offers a variety of Red Light Therapy pad systems to meet the needs of any individual, family, or health practitioner. When choosing a device to administer Red Light Therapy for pain — choose HealthLight!




  • Hamblin. p. 1. Heiskanen V, Hamblin MR. Photobiomodulation: lasers vs. light emitting diodes? Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2018 Aug 8;17(8):1003-1017. doi: 10.1039/c8pp90049c. Erratum in: Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2018 Oct 31;18(1):259-259. PMID: 30044464; PMCID: PMC6091542, p. 1.
  • Cotler, Howard B. et al.  The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) For Musculoskeletal Pain. MOJ Orthop Rheumatol. 2015  ;  2(5): . doi:10.15406/mojor.2015.02.00068, p. 1.
  • https://www.osha.gov/laser-hazards/, p. 1.
  • Neffendorf JE, Hildebrand GD, Downes SM. Handheld laser devices and laser-induced retinopathy (LIR) in children: an overview of the literature. Eye (Lond). 2019 Aug;33(8):1203-1214. doi: 10.1038/s41433-019-0395-1. Epub 2019 Mar 20. PMID: 30894692; PMCID: PMC7005768, p. 1203.
  • Ibid.
  • Hamblin, Michael R. “Virulence profile: Michael R. Hamblin. “ Virulence. 2016; 7(7): 836-839.  Published online 2016 Jun 17. doi:10.1080/21505594.2016.1201348.
  • Smalley PJ. Laser safety: Risks, hazards, and control measures. Laser Ther. 2011;20(2):95-106. doi: 10.5978/islsm.20.95. PMID: 24155518; PMCID: PMC3799025, p. 1.
  • Hamblin. p. 1. Heiskanen V, Hamblin MR. Photobiomodulation: lasers vs. light emitting diodes? Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2018 Aug 8;17(8):1003-1017. doi: 10.1039/c8pp90049c. Erratum in: Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2018 Oct 31;18(1):259-259. PMID: 30044464; PMCID: PMC6091542, p. 5.



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