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How Much Red Light Energy Does it Take to Flush Fat?

“You can’t spot reduce!” said every fitness expert ever. This rules changes with red light therapy. Using red light with the correct amount of energy flushes fat out of the fat cells. While this treatment does work, there are many reasons it might fail. One of these is not using enough power. Without enough energy, the fat will not flush out of the cells.

It takes 10 mW of 635 nm red light to cause fat cells to release 99% of their contents. Put another way, it takes 3.6 J/cm^2 (joules per square centimeter) of 635 nm red light energy to induce the fat to leave the fat cells.

A successful red light therapy fat flush looks like this:

  • wavelength: 635 nm
  • treatment dose: 3.6 J/cm^2

You can spot reduce fat with 635 nm light, but you must use enough energy, or the procedure will not work.

Finding the Flushing Point

After a normal lipectomy (fat removal surgery), the surgeon throws away the removed fat.

In 2002, Neira, et. al. added a dose of red light to twelve standard lipectomies.

They hit the fat with 635 nm red light using three different energies.

They removed the irradiated fat, and then studied it under a 60,000-x magnification microscope.

Electron microscope picture of fat cells before red light therapy empties them
Electron microscope picture of fat cells before, during, and after red light therapy empties them

The 99% Fat Flush Tipping Point

The weakest energy caused no fat to flush from the fat cells.

The middle energy caused 80% of the fat to drain from the fat cells.

The highest energy caused 99% of the fat to spill out of the fat cells.

The Magic Joule that Unlocks the Fat

This is a typical fat-contouring result.
This is a typical fat-contouring result.

The study shows us that a 635 nm red light dose of 3.6 J/cm^2 causes a 99% successful fat flush.

To understand this, please look at the following terms:

  • J: joules; one joule is the amount of energy required to power a 1 watt bulb for 1 second
  • mW: milliwatts; one milliwatt is 1/1000th of a watt
  • cm^2: centimeter squared; one square centimeter is about a 1/2 inch square
  • nm: nanometer, or billionths of a meter, used to measure light wavelengths

To get the 99% fat release result, the researchers used the laser as follows:

  • wavelength: 635 nm
  • energy: 10 mW/cm^2
  • treatment time: 6 minutes (360 seconds)
  • treatment dose: 3.6 J/cm^2

When researchers treated the fat with 1.2 J/cm^2, nothing happened.

When they irradiated it with a dose of 2.4 J/cm^2, the cells let go of 80% of their fatty contents.

When they hit the fat with 3.6 J/cm^2 of 635 nm light, the fat cells released 99% of their contents.

Does Red Light Energy Kill Fat Cells?

No, red light therapy does not kill fat cells.

When applied with the right amount of energy, red light therapy allows the cells to let go of their contents.

It would be nice if the treatment did kill the fat cells, because a problem with this therapy is that the cells can fill back up again.

Red light flushes the fat, but does not harm the fat cells.

The Fat Looked Like Grape Nodes

Niera noted that the intact fat cells looked like grapes under the electron microscope.
Niera noted that the intact fat cells looked like grapes under the electron microscope.

Before the treatment, Niera said, the fat cells looked like “grape nodes.”

After the treatment, the fat cells looked like empty grape nodes.

The skins (membranes) were still intact, sort of like a shriveled balloon after the air lets out.

Niera concluded from this observation that the treatment did not kill the fat cells.

There are Holes in Your Grapes

So how did the fat get out?

Niera found what he believed were tiny pores in the surface of the fat cells.

He said that the laser seemed to have created temporary pores that allowed “the fat content to go from inside to outside the cell.”

Caruso-Davis tested the micropore theory in a 2011 study.

She found results consistent with lasers creating micropores, but could not prove that the laser created the pores.

Both Niera and Caruso-Davis obtained results that support the micropore theory, but neither actually observed the fat leaking through the pores.

Future studies in other laboratories did not prove or disprove the micropores explanation.

To be fair, none of these studies used the same variables that Niera or Caruso-Davis used.

The best theory of how the fat gets out of fat cells comes from the micropore observation in the Niera study.

Does Spot Reduction Require Exercise or Diet

The fat will melt without exercise, but will reabsorb unless you move after therapy.
The fat will melt without exercise, but will reabsorb unless you move after therapy.

You do not need to exercise for the fat to flush out of your fat cells.

You DO need to exercise to keep the fat from reabsorbing back into those cells.

The Caruso-Davis Study: Red Light Takes 8/10ths Inch of Waistline without Diet or Exercise

Caruso-Davis’ treated subjects‘ waistlines with 635 nm to 680 nm red light.

She treated each subject eight times over 4 weeks. Each session lasted 30 minutes (1800 seconds).

Subjects did not diet or exercise.

They lost an average of 2.15 cm (8/10ths of an inch) at the waistline.

Based on this study, fat will leave the cells without you doing diet or exercise.

The Jackson Study: Red Light Takes 3.51 Inches from Waist, Abdomen, and Thighs without Diet or Exercise

Jackson treated subjects‘ waistlines, hips, and thighs with 635 nm red light.

Treatments lasted only two weeks, but included four treatment areas per session.

Test subjects lost an average of 3.51 in. across the four treatment areas.

  • 98 in. across the waist
  • 05 in. across the hip
  • 85 in. on the right hip
  • 65 in. on the left hip

This study also supports the theory that you can flush fat out of cells without diet or exercise.

The red light does the work.

But, there’s a catch.

The Fat Returns to the Fat Cells

Looks like fat cells. Just a painting.
Looks like fat cells. Just a painting.

The Caruso-Davis study did not give post-treatment measurements.

Jackson’s subjects lost 3.51 inches over the course of two weeks.

Two weeks after that, they had gained back 0.31 in. of girth across the hips, waist, and abdomen.

8% of the fat returned to the treatment areas.

This type of result is typical, and it’s why body-contouring salons shake the fat away.

Vibrate the Fat Away

The Erchonia low level light therapy fat flush machine.
The Erchonia low level light therapy fat flush machine.

The red light gets the fat from the fat cells into the space between the fat cells.

It then can go one of two ways.

It can move into the lymphatic system and leave the body.

Or, it can reabsorb into the deflated fat cells.

This is why professional red light fat flush services include a vibration exercise after fat flush appointments.

There is a vibration plate in the Planet Fitness gym red light booth.

It allows the user to vibrate while experiencing the red light therapy.

Contour Light Body Sculpting sessions include a 10-minute whole body vibration after each treatment.

The post treatment exercise or vibration session stimulates the body to push the fat into the excretion process.

The Best Way to Make Red Light Therapy Fat Flush Permanent

The Zerona Lipo Laser fat flush machine.
The Zerona Lipo Laser fat flush machine.

If you are doing in-home fat flush with red light therapy, you might want to follow the professional Contour Light procedures for successful red light fat flushing.

The light will push the fat out of the cells. You then need to help the fat get to the lymphatic system for disposal.

Contour Light instructions for its clients are consistent with both the science and successful client results.

I have also spoken to red light manufacturers who gave me identical advice to Contour Light’s instructions.

Body Contour’s rules for a successful fat flush:

  • drink 64 oz of ph balanced water per day
  • avoid heavy meals two hours before and after treatment
  • limit caffeine on treatment days
  • interval exercise twelve to 16 minutes within 3 to 4 hours after treatment
  • don’t drink alcohol

Be aware that to do interval exercise, you will work at maximum effort every few minutes. If you don’t know how this works, research “high intensity interval exercise” on the internet.

Interval exercise is not a smooth ride on bike. You alternate between easy and hard exercise, each lasting a minute before switching it up.

Body Contour makes their vibration machine available to clients but it’s unclear to me as of this writing whether the clients do interval exercise and vibration, or just vibration after treatments.

Do this if Your Home Red Light Fat Flush Fails

If you don't get results, you might need to spend more time doing your light therapy.
If you don’t get results, you might need to spend more time doing your light therapy.

There are three reasons that your home red light fat flush might fail.

All three strip energy from your therapy.

If you don’t hit that magic number of 3.6 joules, the fat will not leave the cells.

  • many home red light devices are not as powerful as the manufacturers claim them to be
  • every bit of distance between you and your lamp dramatically decreases the energy it gives you
  • multi-wavelength lights split their energy amongst the wavelengths, leaving you with less red energy per treatment session

Luckily, there’s an easy way to compensate for both these issues.

Spend more time with your lamp. Eventually, you will get 3.6 J/cm^2 of red light, and the fat cells will let go of their fats.

Then follow the instructions.

Drink water, do not drink caffeine, and exercise after every session.


How Much Red Light Energy Does it Take to Flush Fat?