Cold laser therapy is a type of treatment that uses low levels of light to promote healing for different conditions, such as arthritis, joint pain, and muscle strains.

Doctors call it a cold laser as it uses low intensity light to treat inflamed tissue and does not generate heat.

Researchers believe that this treatment helps improve blood flow and ease pain.

Cold laser therapy also has other names, including:

  • low level laser therapy
  • low power laser therapy
  • soft laser biostimulation
  • photobiomodulation

This article discusses what cold laser therapy may help with and whether people can use it as an at-home treatment.

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Cold laser therapy is a procedure that doctors have been using for more than 40 years to ease pain, according to an older study.

The technique may be an option if a person does not wish to take medications, which are more likely to cause side effects.

Cold laser therapy uses low levels of energy or photons that penetrate deep into a painful tissue. The light leads to chemical changes that help damaged cells recover and regrow.

The physician uses a handheld device the size of a flashlight and places it directly on the injured area for about 1 minute. Treatment time may last for up to 30 minutes.

Cold laser therapy may also be effective when doctors use it with other treatments in persons with lymphedema, such as lymphatic drainage massage.

Medical professionals may recommend cold laser therapy for various reasons:


According to a 2015 study, it may help reduce pain in people with:

It may also be helpful to treat pain that develops from third molar surgery and orthodontic procedures.

Another study reviewed the effects of laser therapy on people who have undergone molar extraction surgery. The results showed that it can reduce pain, swelling, and trismus (lockjaw) that may appear after the procedure.

Foot ulcers

A 2015 study notes that low level laser therapy can be an affordable treatment for individuals with foot ulcers due to diabetes. The researchers added that the method can reduce wound size.

Wound healing

Low level laser therapy has anti-inflammatory, anti-edema, and analgesic effects, according to a 2018 paper.

Therefore, It may be useful as an additional treatment to help wounds heal faster.

Bell’s palsy symptoms

Cold laser therapy may benefit a person with Bell’s palsy, a condition that causes muscle weakness on one side of the face.

A 2021 study found that low level laser therapy can help improve facial expression recovery time in those with facial nerve palsies and Bell’s palsy without the use of medications.

Hair growth

Laser therapy may help stimulate hair growth in someone with androgenetic alopecia, or pattern baldness, who does not wish to take medications or undergo surgery to grow their hair.

A 2017 study suggests that a person may opt for laser therapy on its own or combine it with other medications, such as minoxidil or finasteride.


Healthcare professionals may treat swelling with laser therapy.

A 2016 article affirms that the low level laser can reduce swelling after molar removal.

People with concerns about their health should seek medical advice before opting for laser therapy or taking medications.

Doctors can advise on the right treatment option and determine whether cold laser therapy is suitable for the individual.

However, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) states that cold laser therapy may not be a suitable treatment option for those who are pregnant or have cancer. The procedure may also cause some side effects, such as skin discoloration, pain, or swelling.

It is also important to be aware of the risks of cold laser therapy. For example, individuals may have to undergo more than one session for positive results. The procedure may also be expensive if health insurance companies do not provide coverage.

Also, laser therapy may not work for everyone. A healthcare professional may stop treatment if they believe it is not yielding any improvements.

Many companies stock cold laser therapy devices online that claim to help with losing weight, treating migraine, or reducing wrinkles.

However, they have different laser outputs, which may also differ from the outputs within their online descriptions.

The NHS recommends undergoing laser therapy with someone trained in this type of treatment, as improper use of the technique could worsen symptoms.

Cold laser therapy is a noninvasive treatment that may help ease pain, promote hair growth, and reduce swelling and wound size.

Physicians use a handheld device to apply low levels of light directly to the skin. The laser can also target deep areas.

However, it may be unsuitable for those who are pregnant or have cancer. A person opting for cold laser therapy may first check whether their health insurance company provides coverage for this treatment.

It may also be best to avoid using at-home devices, as they may not have the right output amount or worsen symptoms if the individual does not know how to use them.