The efficacy of laser therapy in wound repair: a meta-analysis of the literature

Photomed Laser Surg. 2004 Jun;22(3):241-7. doi: 10.1089/1549541041438623.


Objective: We determined the overall effects of laser therapy on tissue healing by aggregating the literature and subjecting studies meeting the inclusion and exclusion criteria to statistical meta-analysis.

Background data: Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) devices have been in use since the mid sixties, but their therapeutic value remains doubtful, as the literature seems replete with conflicting findings.

Materials and methods: Pertinent original research papers were gathered from library sources, online databases and secondary sources. The papers were screened and coded; those meeting every inclusion and exclusion criterion were subjected to meta-analysis, using Cohen's d. statistic to determine the treatment effect size of each study.

Results: Twenty-four studies with 31 effect sizes met the stringent inclusion and exclusion criteria. The overall mean effect of laser therapy on wound healing was highly significant (d = +2.22). Sub-analyses of the data revealed significant positive effects on wound healing in animal experiments (d = +1.97) as well as human clinical studies (d = +0.54). The analysis further revealed significant positive effects on specific indices of healing, for example, acceleration of inflammation (d = +4.45); augmentation of collagen synthesis (d = +1.80); increased tensile strength (d = +2.37), reduced healing time (d = +3.24); and diminution of wound size (d = +0.55). The Fail-Safe number associated with the overall effect of laser therapy was 509; a high number representing the number of additional studies-in which laser therapy has negative or no effect on wound healing-required to negate the overall large effect size of +2.22. The corresponding Fail-Safe number for clinical studies was 22.

Conclusion: We conclude that laser therapy is an effective tool for promoting wound repair.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing / radiation effects*