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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 626127, 9 pages
Review Article

Low Level Laser Therapy for the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers: A Critical Survey

HanseMerkur Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraße 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany

Received 14 October 2013; Revised 10 January 2014; Accepted 19 January 2014; Published 16 March 2014

Academic Editor: Jaung-Geng Lin

Copyright © 2014 Kathrin H. Beckmann et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Diabetic foot ulcers as one of the most common complications of diabetes mellitus are defined as nonhealing or long-lasting chronic skin ulcers in diabetic patients. Multidisciplinary care for the diabetic foot is common, but treatment results are often unsatisfactory. Low level laser therapy (LLLT) on wound areas as well as on acupuncture points, as a noninvasive, pain-free method with minor side effects, has been considered as a possible treatment option for the diabetic foot syndrome. A systematic literature review identified 1764 articles on this topic. Finally, we adopted 22 eligible references; 8 of them were cell studies, 6 were animal studies, and 8 were clinical trials. Cell studies and animal studies gave evidence of cellular migration, viability, and proliferation of fibroblast cells, quicker reepithelization and reformed connective tissue, enhancement of microcirculation, and anti-inflammatory effects by inhibition of prostaglandine, interleukin, and cytokine as well as direct antibacterial effects by induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The transferral of these data into clinical medicine is under debate. The majority of clinical studies show a potential benefit of LLLT in wound healing of diabetic ulcers. But there are a lot of aspects in these studies limiting final evidence about the actual output of this kind of treatment method. In summary, all studies give enough evidence to continue research on laser therapy for diabetic ulcers, but clinical trials using human models do not provide sufficient evidence to establish the usefulness of LLLT as an effective tool in wound care regimes at present. Further well designed research trials are required to determine the true value of LLLT in routine wound care.