Does Red Light Therapy Fade Tattoos?

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Over the last several years, red light therapy has become more and more popular for skincare, pain relief, and recovery. Devices such as the Total Body Enhancement machines at Planet Fintess, and the myriad home light therapy devices have made it more accessible than ever.

Does red light therapy fade tattoos? It is generally recommended to cover tattoos when undergoing red light therapy, as it may fade your tattoos. Depending on what you’re looking for, that can be a good or a bad thing!

We’ll explain below.

Among the modalities typically employed by such therapists to facilitate healing while reducing pain is LLLT (Low-Level Light Therapy). Red Light therapy is an example of LLLT.


Light Therapy 101

Originally, light therapy was utilized by NASA in growing outer space plants. Since then, scientists have discovered that individuals can realize significant therapeutic benefits through red light therapy.

Furthermore, the therapy is all-natural and non-invasive.

It may treat depression, sleep disorders, seasonal affective disorder, joint pain, and skin conditions – and potentially fade tattoos.

Light therapy entails exposure to artificial light in certain spectrums. Red light therapy is known as photobiomodulation, and it uses red light to activate ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in muscle tissues; ATP consequently provides energy to the body.

Red light treatment involves radiating the affected body region with the light. For example, if you are experiencing headaches, you will need to position the light to focus on the forehead while moving it to and fro till the pain subsides and wears off. 

These light frequencies are all on the infrared spectrum, so they’re on the opposite end from the UV rays produced by tanning bed bulbs (though red light therapy and tanning are sometimes combined).

Tattos and Light Therapy

Recent concerns have been raised regarding light therapy use on patients with tattoos. With tattoos increasing in popularity in most segments of society, professional athletes included, health care practitioners are often forced to use light treatment on tattooed skins.

Excessive heating is possible using Class III and IV lasers because of their effective irradiance. There have been reports of skin blistering over black tattoos, with the blisters most probably resulting from unintentional heating of metal salts and iron oxides in the black pigment of the tattoo. 

There have been reports of skin blistering over black tattoos.

This is why, for example, Planet Fitness generally recommends that people with tattoos cover them while in the Total Body Enhancement red light therapy machines.

As light therapy is still fairly new, the long term effects of its use are still somewhat unclear. It’s best to cover your tattoos when using any sort of light therapy.

As light therapy is still fairly new, the long term effects of its use are still somewhat unclear. It’s best to cover your tattoos when using any sort of light therapy.

Does Red Light Therapy Fade Tattoos? Does It Remove Them After Laser Tattoo Removal?

To begin with, you need to be familiar with what happens in LED light therapy.

Following the laser tattoo removal procedure, red light is shone on the injury location. The light helps increase circulation, accelerate healing, and reduce inflammation.  

This, at first, sounds like an ideal means of helping with tattoo removal.

However, there is much more to it. As you treat a tattoo, the laser emits a Nanosecond pulse length, and the fast-firing causes friction, which leads to some heat that could trigger side effects.

In addition, LED red light therapy includes the addition of extra “thermal energy,” resulting in a serious blistering and negative reaction. 

An alternative would be potentially using the red light therapy, but after a break of two weeks following the initial treatment session. This reduces the skin sensitivity to the extra “thermal energy.”

Laser treatment works by breaking down the ink fragments of your tattoo.

However, this also causes it to injure your skin. During this period, when your skin’s surface is injured, the ink particles get broken down and carried away in your bloodstream. 

Since red light accelerates the healing procedure after tattoo removal, it reduces the extent of ink depletion. You will require extra removal sessions with less depletion following a session, hence added skin fatigue on the affected region.

The human body is an excellent machine accustomed to removing foreign and unwanted entities such as undesired tattoo ink. The laser in tattoo removal is designed to help your body in a natural ink removal process.

It is wiser to let the body take charge at its own pace and naturally as you heal.  

How Frequently Should You Use Red Light Therapy?

The red light therapy procedure establishes itself as a go-to for individuals seeking deliverance from joint and muscle pain and chronic skin ailments including acne, wrinkles, and rosacea

The process is also helpful if you wish to reduce visible aging signs. However, you might ask yourself, “How much exposure to this therapy is too much?” Well, to answer you, there does not exist a one-size-fits-all dosage. 

However, many people realize favorable outcomes with 15-minute sessions three to five times a week over several months.

Start Slow: People Are Different

How significant your tattoos or skin conditions are, your general health, age, and light sensitivity all affect how often and for how long you get to bathe in the red light.

The therapy is quite safe and has few and mild side effects. However, it is advisable to make the introduction slow to establish what is most efficient for your body.

During the initial week, start with daily 10-minute sessions. In the course of and following the treatment, you might experience a feeling of gentle warmth in the skin. A sensitive person can also experience temporary tightness and redness. 

In this instance, reduce the therapy time or increase the days between the therapy sessions. You can prolong the daily therapy duration to about 20 minutes if you do not experience tightness or redness. 

With many things, “more” does not always imply “better.” There will not be any noticeable skin changes instantly since healing takes place at the cellular level, and your cells will need time for the changes to show.

You will notice improvements often after three or so months of use.

Risks of Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is deemed safe, though researchers are unsure why and how it works. Furthermore, there are no set instructions or guidelines on the amount of exposure.

Excessive light damages skin tissue, whereas too few doses might not be as effective. 

Where Can You Get Red Light Therapy?

Light therapy treatments were once limited to clinicians’ offices. But now they’re available everywhere, including many many home devices, masks, etc. easily purchased on Amazon or at your local beauty retailer.

If you don’t want to bother shopping for your own device, you could join your local Planet Fitness, which has been offering its Red Light Therapy Beauty Angel Total Body Enhancement devices for years.


Light therapy, more so red, blue, yellow, and purple, has proven effective in addressing various skin conditions, healing, pain relief, and anti-aging with regular and correct use.

However, though the wavelength might be different from UV rays known to cause tattoo color fading, red light therapy’s long-term effects on skin tattoos are not completely clear. 

To be safe, you should cover your tattoos while using red light therapy, unless your goal is to fade them.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).