How does it work? Beyond Beauty - Unlocking the Sciences behind the Technology
CELLRETURN LED Technology and Photobiomodulation (PBM Therapy)
PBM is a new term for what used to be called Low-level Light Therapy (LLLT). Photobiomodulation (PBM) Therapy is the application of light (usually a low power laser or LED) to promote tissue repair, reduce inflammation or induce analgesia. PBM Therapy devices operate in the red, blue and infrared spectra using laser or LED technology.
PBM has been a popular and positive subject in scientific research papers from various international medical and scientific journals, e.g. The BMJ (The British Medical Journal), The Lancet, European Society for Medical Oncology, National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), The International Association for the Study of Pain. PBM Therapy is also FDA-approved for temporary relief of muscle and joint pain. This is where CELLRETURN harvests its technology and applies it to innovative devices for the body such as Wheroes.
At CELLRETURN, with our team of researchers, governed by our Medical Board, we research and explore the most effective and the safest way use PBM and lights. We have found that for the face, a combination of Red, Blue and Near Infrared is best and caters for those who have acne (blue light), sensitive skin (pink mode: combining red + blue) and anti-ageing, hydration, pigmentation with red mode (combination of red light and near infrared).
LEDs are essentially complex semiconductors that convert current into non-interfering narrow spectrum light. Unlike laser, LED is much easier and safer to use, with no risk of tissue damage or accidental eye damage. The wavelengths are delivered at much lower power (safety) and most importantly treatment time is shortened because a larger surface area can be treated at the same time.
We have come a long way from sunlight therapy in Ancient Egypt, India and China to the rediscovery of solar light to treat lupus vulgaris (Dr. Niels Ryberg Finsen received a Nobel prize) to Endre Meister (Hungarian doctor) who accidentally discovered hair growth wavelengths and effectively the beginning of LLLT. In 1998, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) discovered specific wavelengths to stimulate plant growth and healing properties in treatment of burns and other conditions. Now, PBM (previously known as LLLT) is gaining more recognition in the field of medicine for treatment of diseases from arthritis to Parkinson’s with its ability to repair and stimulate regeneration mechanisms, based on properties of stem cells such as self-renewal and ability of multilineage differentiation. (Astori, G.; Vignati, F.; Bardelli, S.; Tubio, M.; Gola, M.; Albertini, V.; Bambi, F.; Scali, G.; Castelli, D.; Rasini, V.; et al. “In vitro” and multicolor phenotypic characterization of cell subpopulations identified in fresh human adipose tissue stromal vascular fraction and in the derived mesenchymal stem cells. J. Transl. Med. 2007, 5, 55.)
CELLRETURN started to work on LED technology since 2006 after Mr Kim (Founder and CEO) own’s sudden hair loss. Whilst researching on hair growth, the team discovered the potential for beauty applications. In 2014, CELLRETURN produced the first LED mask, the Opera Lebody for GTG Wellness. The discovery made by the research team led to further improvements of the masks leading to the latest Platinum LED Mask, the birth of the Hair Alpha-Ray for hair growth and scalp health and now the body application with Wheroes for your lower back and pelvic health.
CELLRETURN's LED Technology has generated 4 main products so far:-
- CELLRETURN Platinum LED Mask
- CELLRETURN Neckle Ray Plus
- CELLRETURN Hair Alpha-Ray
- CELLRETURN Wheroes
How does it work?
LED light induces the PBM effect, which is used to accelerate healing, as it increases cell viability by stimulating the mitochondrial and cell membrane photoreceptors synthesis of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). This process can be used in promoting the proliferation rate of osteoblasts, allowing the development of new clinical approaches where the influence of light irradiation will be cross-linked with the knowledge of stem cell behaviour and directed manipulation toward accelerated bone repair.
(Fernandes, A.P.; Junqueira, M.D.A.; Marques, N.C.T.; Machado, M.A.A.M.; Santos, C.F.; Oliveira, T.M.; Sakai, V.T. Effects of low-level laser therapy on stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth. J. Appl. Oral Sci. 2016, 24, 332–337.)
In simpler terms, during application, the device will produce light (specific wavelengths as designed) through the LEDs, the light energy is then absorbed by the targeted cells (whether it’s face or back). This (red light) will then activate the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) leading to increases in the production of ATP1 (energy), regulates reactive oxygen groups and induces transcription factors or the cell membranes (NIR) through its light sensitive ion channels. These in turn will increase cell proliferation and migration (create new cells), regulation of cytokines, growth factors and inflammatory mediators as well as increasing tissue oxygenation! The improved blood flow to the tissue will increase the cellular level changes through microcirculation and thus resulting in accelerated wound healing, cell and tissue repair, regeneration, rejuvenation and relief of pain.
The basis of PBM is a light source (laser or LED light) that produces low intensity light (Class III), PBM is non-invasive and has been shown to decrease inflammation and provide pain relief. Therefore, treatments of tendinopathies, nerve injuries, osteoarthritis, and wound healing could all benefit from the use of PBM therapy on tissues.
(Yadav, A.; Gupta, A. Noninvasive red and near-infrared wavelength-induced photobiomodulation: Promoting impaired cutaneous wound healing. Photodermatol. Photoimmunol. Photomed. 2017, 33, 4–13.)
Fig: The application of red light (600–810 nm) is absorbed by the enzyme cytochrome c oxidase, which is in the unit IV respiratory chain of the mitochondria. Nitric oxide (NO) is then displaced and activates the enzyme, and this leads to a proton gradient. Consequently, calcium ions (Ca2+), reactive oxygen species (ROS), and ATP production levels are increased. On the other hand, the application of near-infrared light (810–1064 nm) activates light-sensitive ion channels and increases the levels of Ca2+. ROS and cyclic AMP (cAMP)then interact with the calcium ions. All these activities increase cell differentiation, proliferation and migration, among other things. (Dompe C, Moncrieff L, Matys J, Grzech-Leśniak K, Kocherova I, Bryja A, Bruska M, Dominiak M, Mozdziak P, Skiba THI, Shibli JA, Angelova Volponi A, Kempisty B, Dyszkiewicz-Konwińska M. Photobiomodulation—Underlying Mechanism and Clinical Applications. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2020; 9(6):1724. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9061724)
Hence the creation of Wheroes by CELLRETURN using a combination of Red and Infrared (IR) wavelengths for low back, pelvic and pudendal area.
Keywords to how light devices work are mainly through the photon (light) that is directed to the targeted tissue to increase the cellular activity resulting to cell proliferation, differentiation and migration mainly.
- Increase in ATP synthesis
- Angiogenesis (new blood vessels formation)
- Collagen synthesis
- Fibroblast proliferation
- Inhibition of pain and oxidative stress
- Decrease inflammation
- Enhance tissue repair
These in simple terms means more collagen, more hydration, more glow and less wrinkles, less pigmentation, less pores and healthier skin when using CELLRETURN’s Platinum LED Mask and Neckle Ray Plus.
In Hair Alpha-Ray the cellular activity results in a healthier scalp and healthier hair, regrowth of hair and thicker hair.
Wheroes, our latest body device, utilizes PBM therapy for the pelvic region predominantly. Using the 3 complex wavelengths, its able to target even deeper tissue and muscles to repair and regenerate, hence myriad roles in: -
- Post-partum care for wound healing, stretched skin, loss of elasticity – the cell proliferation here will help to increase fibroblasts, macrophages, mast cells and keratinocytes.
- Pain relief by decreasing PGE2 and COX-2 – useful for period pains, back pain, pelvic pain from haemorrhoids etc.
- Reducing inflammation in pelvic conditions
- Y piece makes Wheroes portable – relief and regeneration on the go
See the diagram below, but simplifying it into one sentence, the light from the device encourages and stimulates your skin cells into working harder, giving beneficial effects for damaged or compromised cells.
Schematic illustration of the processes involved in irradiation of skin with near-infrared light (left column) and a summation of the target cells and their specific photoreactions (boxes on the right). Note the action, interaction/cross-talk between cells and their activities (arrows). (Ref: Calderhead RG, Kim WS, Ohshiro T, Trelles MA, Vasily DB. Adjunctive 830 nm light-emitting diode therapy can improve the results following aesthetic procedures. Laser Ther. 2015;24(4):277-289. doi:10.5978/islsm.15-OR-17).
Mitochondria (Powerhouse of the cell)
Red light and Near Infrared (NIR) therapy is designed to enhance cellular function. It can help reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and enhance the performance of energy-making mitochondria in the cell. Red light and Near Infrared (NIR) therapy can increase the number of mitochondria and boost their function in the cell. The red and near infrared light activates cytochrome C oxidase (CCO) in our mitochondria, which increases ATP (energy) production.
In addition, there is the possible dissociation of bound nitric oxide (NO) and Cox (NO-Cox), which is a harmful roadblock to ATP production. Essentially, NO-Cox gunks up the cellular system of ATP production, and red and NIR light helps prevent and reverse this problem
Ref: Karu T. Primary and secondary mechanisms of action of visible to near-IR radiation on cells. J Photochem Photobiol B. 1999 Mar;49(1):1-17. doi: 10.1016/S1011-1344(98)00219-X. PMID: 10365442.
- Skin is the largest organ with high turnover rate in the human body.
- Mitochondria play a vital role in the skin.
- Mitochondrial dysfunction induces skin aging.
- Skin disorders manifest mitochondrial dysfunction.
- Targeting mitochondria helps rejuvenate skin.
Mitochondria are double-membrane structures in our cells responsible for cell signalling, steroid synthesis, cell apoptosis, and cellular energy. Mitochondria are often referred to as the “powerhouse of the cell” because they convert food, water, and oxygen into ATP energy the cells and body can use. ATP energy is crucial for your body’s function; it’s often called “the energy currency of life.”
- Inherited from our mothers (maternally inherited).
PBM works in 3 steps:-
- Photoreception: Absorption of photons (light)
- Signal Transduction: Activation of mitochondria to the activation and increase of activity in cellular level
- Photoresponse: The effect, the result
Cell metabolic activity is promoted by PBM Therapy when the photons are absorbed by the chromophores or photoacceptors in the cell tissues. The effectiveness of PBM on the target tissue is dependent on the parameters used such as light source, therapeutic wavelength, energy density, light pulse structure, the ideal irradiance and fluence (power and intensity) ensuring adequate penetration into the targeted cells, the duration, the absorption, the reaction and of course lastly but most importantly the efficacy and the safety of the device.
All these parameters are carefully calculated, researched, experimented, trialled and examined by CELLRETURN’s team of researchers and Medical Advisory Board. PBM is still being explored, where we are now is just the beginning hence our research team at CELLRETURN HQ in Korea is working relentlessly to produce the most effective yet the safest device for your comfort.
Wavelength – in short, the longer the wavelength, the deeper the penetration. You will also have to bear in mind where and what you are targeting with the wavelength. The wavelength for facial rejuvenation will be different to that of say hair growth. Although you may see red light being used in both devices for hair and face – the different wavelength targets different chromophores and causes different effect.
It has been found that the 3 most important (Calderhead et al. 2018) therapeutic wavelengths for facial treatments are:-
- Blue wavelengths at approximately 415nm (to target acne vulgaris)
- Red wavelength at approximately 633nm (photorejuvenation – anti-ageing)
- Near infrared at approximately 830nm (penetration and cellular activity on dermal level)
Fluence and Irradiance – here, we are looking at the intensity and power of the device. Irradiance is calculated as follows: -
Irradiance = Power (mW)
Beam area on tissue surface
Now, the fact that CELLRETURN does not share it’s fluence or irradiance directly is because of its patented technology surrounding the wavelength and the module itself. This is a trade secret. Hence, it is NOT comparable when you look at some well written blogs on LED devices comparing irradiance, fluence, power and efficacy. It is akin to comparing apples and oranges. Some devices are made differently and so irradiance will need be higher if the lights are scattering whilst irradiance can be lower and safer if there is a narrower divergence angle.
It is good to look at parameters and compare but ensure you are comparing like for like, look at clinical trials and their before and after photos. Anecdotes and scientific facts are two very different things. Check if your device has been trialled in a scientific study and published with sufficient data in scientific journals. CELLRETURN’s Platinum LED Mask was featured in a paper in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 2020
(Kim et al. Synergistic effects of using novel home-use 660- and 850-nm light-emitting diode mask in combination with hyaluronic acid ampoule on photoaged Asian skin: A prospective, controlled study. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2020 (Vol 19 Issue 10 2606-2615. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.13599.)
It is also very important to note that CELLRETURN’s Platinum LED Mask has 1026 LEDs and covers the face and neck area. The modules on the mask are patented because they have their own way of beaming the photons onto the tissue more effectively and safely. The CELLRETURN mask is rigid and not flexible like some other masks but that’s because it is necessary to store the LED module in an accurate position. It is one of the most expensive LED devices on the market but there is a reason why they are more expensive. The research, the experience (CELLRETURN were the original producer of the popular OPERA LED Mask although distributed by another company!), the innovation hence the superior technology behind the mask.
Another important point on comparing irradiance and fluence is the distance from device to the beam area (on tissue surface) – there are differences between the wrap around flexible LED masks (not to mention the easily breakable LEDs on them are not the same as the patented module CELLRETURN has) and those on a curved beam not touching the skin at all (hence losing some of its energy along the way and stronger power required, but also the inaccuracy of the photon beam across facial tissue where some areas are in direct contact and some not.
The recommended irradiance range are not widely agreed upon. Calderhead et al. 2018 suggested 40-150 mW/cm2 whereas Barolet et al. suggested 6-150 mW/cm2. As mentioned, figures alone when not comparable do not mean anything. Although, it is very important to note that too much irradiance can have deleterious effects on the cells and tissues.
This shows how the other parameters are also very important in PBM therapy, other than energy density, which must be considered for optimal efficacy. Furthermore, parameters for optimization will vary for the target tissue types (skin, hair, or muscle) and should be accommodated in devices as CELLRETURN do.
Duration – how long to use it for?
Now, it is all about the frequency of use – to make it most effective and safe of course. CELLRETURN do suggest using their LED devices every day for a maximum of 20 minutes per day. Firstly, think about your lifestyle, your exposure to the sun and other skin damaging process you are exposed to daily. Now, as we accumulate those negative effects daily, shouldn’t we treat them daily? Also, when it becomes a daily thing, it is easier to fall into a routine or a habit. For example, some may choose to use the mask last thing every night, when they have cleansed their face and ready for bed. Not only does the red mode works for the skin but it also helps us to sleep better! It then becomes a habit to unwind, relax and end the day. Using daily means integrating it into our circadian rhythm and harnessing its positive effect on sleep-wake cycles. Yes, CELLRETURN’s Platinum LED Mask is also effective for Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD) with its blue light in the morning and red light at night.
The team of scientists and researchers has calculated the most effective use is 20 minutes per day for CELLRETURN. This is of course taking into consideration the wavelength, the power, the irradiance, the fluence, and the duration for optimal efficacy and safety.
Many companies who produce these masks do not have their own research team, factory, medical board to ensure the product's safety. There are a couple of brands who are made by the same company but branded differently with a very minor change with the way it fastens. This 'White labelling' is not uncommon these days.
Depth – let’s look at where the wavelengths get to in our skin. Deeper skin penetration is possible with Near Infrared (NIR); hence the importance of checking if your device has Infrared (IR). On CELLRETURN’s Platinum LED Mask, the red mode penetrates the lower dermis – hence its ability to treat pigmentation, stimulate collagen and a whole host of cellular activity to regenerate and rejuvenate. The blue mode to target acne into the epidermis and for those with sensitive skin – redness, rosacea like symptoms; the pink mode to target the upper dermis. With CELLRETURN, our aim is always to achieve optimal efficacy without compromising your safety.
As for Hair Alpha- Ray, the device uses a combination of red and dual infrared so two types of NIR to penetrate hair follicles as well as activating cellular level activities to provide optimum efficacy in helping hair follicle to re-grow, grow stronger and thicker with a healthy scalp.
Wheroes, the first body LED device focusses on three complex light therapies; red, near infrared and far infrared to alleviate pain – relieve, regenerate and repair the low back, pelvic and pudendal area.
Did you know?
“Infrared therapy enhances and improves circulation in the skin and other parts of the body, it can bring oxygen and nutrients to injured tissues, promoting healing. It helps ease pain, relieves inflammation, and protects against oxidative stress. CELLRETURN products especially our LED Platinum Mask for face, Hair Alpha Ray for hair and WHEROES for your body are made for just that!”
“Infrared light can improve the healing of skin wounds, photo-prevention, relieve pain, stiffness, fatigue or rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, potentiate photodynamic therapy, treat ophthalmic, neurological, psychiatric and mental health conditions, and stimulate the proliferation of mesenchymal and cardiac stem cells.”
- Vatansever F, Hamblin MR. Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications. Photonics Lasers Med. 2012;4:255–266.
- Tsai SR, et al. Low-level light therapy potentiates NPe6-mediated photodynamic therapy in a human osteosarcoma cell line via increased ATP. Photodiagnosis Photodyn Ther. 2015;12(1):123–30.
- Barolet D, Christiaens F, Hamblin MR. Infrared and skin: Friend or foe. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2015;155:78–85.
- Oosterveld FG, et al. Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. A pilot study showing good tolerance, short-term improvement of pain and stiffness, and a trend towards long-term beneficial effects. Clin Rheumatol. 2009;28(1):29–34.
- Tuby H, Maltz L, Oron U. Low-level laser irradiation (LLLI) promotes proliferation of mesenchymal and cardiac stem cells in culture. Lasers Surg Med. 2007;39(4):373–8.
- AlGhamdi KM, Kumar A, Moussa NA. Low-level laser therapy: a useful technique for enhancing the proliferation of various cultured cells. Lasers in medical science. 2012;27(1):237–249.
- Schiffer F, et al. Psychological benefits 2 and 4 weeks after a single treatment with near infrared light to the forehead: a pilot study of 10 patients with major depression and anxiety. Behavioral and Brain Functions. 2009;5(1):46.
- Rojas JC, Gonzalez-Lima F. Low-level light therapy of the eye and brain. Eye Brain. 2011;3:49–67.
- Johnstone DM, et al. Turning On Lights to Stop Neurodegeneration: The Potential of Near Infrared Light Therapy in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2016;9(500)
- Tsai SR, Hamblin MR. Biological effects and medical applications of infrared radiation. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2017;170:197-207. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2017.04.014
Did you know?
“Infrared therapy technology allows people to harness the benefits of the sun, without being exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays. Also, infrared therapy is safe and effective, without adverse side effects. As a matter of fact, infrared light is safe and is used even for infants in the neonatal intensive care.”
CELLRETURN Wheroes has both near and far infrared wavelengths. Far infrared has been proven to help relieve chronic low back pain. Our portable Y-piece is portable and can give you relief on-the-go!
Did you know?
“Unlike ultraviolet light - which has damaging effects upon the tissues and cells of the body - infrared light helps cells regenerate or repair themselves. Infrared light also improves the circulation of oxygen-rich blood in the body, promoting faster healing of deep tissues and relieving pain.”
“I had a severe burn a month ago when hot boiling water spilled on my thigh. I used my CELLRETURN’s Platinum LED Mask, on the Red Mode for 20 minutes every day and the serum too. I am utterly amazed by the result – it has healed my burn! What I thought would have been a palm sized scar is now the size of a small finger and I am quite confident that it will continue to heal!” VM, London
Q: Can I use CELLRETURN LED devices post aesthetic procedures or surgery?
A: After routine anti-wrinkle (botox and fillers) treatment, it's best to wait 24-48 hours. LED does not work against your anti-ageing treatments and can help prolong their efficacy. However, after surgical procedures, using the device (especially RED mode) hastens the resolution of sequelae associated with patient downtime in addition to significantly speeding up frank wound healing, swift resolution of postoperative sequelae, minimizes downtime and enhances patient satisfaction.
Calderhead et al. Adjunctive 830 nm light-emitting diode therapy can improve the results following aesthetic procedures. Laser Therapy 24.4: 277-289
WHEROES for Scrotal Rejuvenation?
Yes, not just vaginal rejuvenation! Scrotal laxity and scrotal wrinkling can be improved with CELLRETURN Wheroes using its dual Infrared wavelengths, which incidentally works for haemorrhoids, prolapse, period pains, bloating, back pain, spasms and aches. Wheroes for the whole family – rejuvenate, relieve, repair, regenerate!
Ref: Cohen PR. Scrotal Rejuvenation. Cureus. 2018;10(3):e2316. Published 2018 Mar 13. doi:10.7759/cureus.2316
- The ubiquitous depletion of mitochondrial DNA predominantly leads to wrinkled skin and hair loss accompanied by inflammatory phenotype.
- Use of infrared energy stimulates metabolic pathways that allow for DNA repair and correct regulation and enzymes that manage gene transcription and expression.
Facts about Infrared (IR) light
- Infrared is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength 750–100,00 nm.
- Short IR is proposed to be absorbed by cytochrome c oxidase in mitochondria
- Long IR is proposed to be absorbed by water in heat-gated ion channels
- Neural stimulation can be carried out by focused IR laser spots
- IR therapy can be carried out by IR light sources or IR emitting materials
- Cancer therapy and neuroprotection are effective applications.
Tsai SR, Hamblin MR. Biological effects and medical applications of infrared radiation. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2017;170:197-207. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2017.04.014
The Future? Near Infrared may be a potential Therapeutic Solution for Parkinson’s?
Foo ASC, Soong TW, Yeo TT, Lim KL. Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Parkinson's Disease-Near-Infrared Photobiomodulation as a Potential Therapeutic Strategy. Front Aging Neurosci. 2020;12:89. Published 2020 Apr 3. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2020.0008
These links are to scientific papers which research the beneficial effects of LED light on the skin, body, hair, cellular level healing, neurology treatment, cancer treatment, acne treatment, back pain and many others.