Cold laser therapy is a medical term that is used to describe any number of different treatments that utilize a special type of laser light to heal cellular tissues. Today, advancements in the study and development of medical laser technology has made it possible for a growing number of men and women to experience the health benefits of cold lasers, often from the convenience of their own home. Commonly, these products utilize low level laser therapy to treat conditions like arthritis, lower back pain, and even hair loss.
A Brief Laser History
The history of cold laser technology begins in the early 1900s. Albert Einstein is credited with fist conceptualizing the theory of “light amplification through stimulated emission of radiation,” a concept he named laser theory. For five decades, physicists and scientists continued to develop laser theory, eventually crafting the world’s first laser light emitting devices.
By 1967, laser technology was adopted by medical professionals who believed laser light held the power to induce positive changes at the cellular level. Dr. Andre Mester is perhaps the most well known pioneer of laser medicine, and his early adoption of low-level medical lasers earned him the nickname Grandfather of Laser Therapy.
Since the mid 1900s, medical laser technology evolved significantly. Today, cold laser technologies are used to assist in the treatment of a number of different medical conditions, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic joint disorders
- Lower back pain
- Wound healing
- Hair loss
FDA Laser Classification and Regulation
Currently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medical laser technologies. The FDA recognizes four major classes of lasers, which includes three subclasses, as described below (i):
Considered non-hazardous, unless view with the assistance of an optical device. For example, a class I laser that is magnified by a magnifying glass, binoculars, or telescope may become hazardous. Examples of products with Class I lasers include laser printers, CD players, and DVD players.
Class IIa, II
This class of laser devices are considered hazardous when viewed directly for a long period of time. Examples include bar code scanners, like those found at the register of a grocery or clothing store.
Class IIIa, IIIb
Depending on the power and beam area, Class IIIa lasers may be “momentarily hazardous” when viewed directly, or when stared at by an unaided eye. A common example of this type of laser includes laser pointers, commonly sold for entertainment or presentation purposes. Class IIIb lasers are described as being stronger. The FDA warns that this class of laser may cause immediate skin hazard from direct beam and immediate eye hazard when viewed directly. Examples of Class IIIb lasers include laser light show projectors, industrial lasers, and research lasers.
In a medical context, Class IIIa and IIIb lasers are both considered non-surgical. When used properly, these classes of lasers do not have the ability to burn, cut, or cause pain. Class IIIb lasers are also referred to as low level lasers, and they are often used to promote healing of the skin, joints, and other tissues located below the skin.
Class IV lasers represent the strongest group and carry the highest potential for hazard when used improperly. However, this level of laser technology also has powerful medical benefits. Perhaps best known are LASIK lasers that are used during corrective eye surgery.
An Important Note: Class IIIb and IV lasers must be acquired through trained health professionals who recommend their use for the treatment of a specific medical condition. For the best recommendations and treatment outcomes, patients are advised to seek the guidance of licensed medical professionals to acquire such medical lasers.
For more information, readers may visit FDA.gov for this article on laser facts
Cold Lasers and Photobiomodulation
Despite widespread support from both physicians and patients, it is important to note that science has not yet identified the precise means through which cold laser devices promote positive biological changes. However, researchers believe it has to do with photobiomodulation.
Photobiomodulation is a medical term that explains the chemical and physical changes that occur within a cell after exposure to an energy source, like a cold laser medical device. Observing the cell before, during, and after exposure, medical professionals agree that laser devices seem to energize the mitochondria within the cell. This increases the production of ATP and cellular energy. In turn, chemical and physical changes occur within the cell and the surrounding body tissues. In this way, medical professionals may recommend the use of cold laser devices to achieve various outcomes, including (ii):
- Cellular replication and growth
- Increased metabolic activity
- Enhanced wound healing
- Reduction of inflammation
- Stimulation of nerve function
- Reduction of pain
Cold Laser Therapy for Hair Loss
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