Following the absorption of photons by cells either resident in or in transit through the skin at and around a wound site, healing can be modulated. This is due to the primary, secondary and tertiary cellular effects of the photons. The main primary effect of phototherapy is photon absorption. This initiates secondary effects within the cells that have absorbed the photons. Secondary effects are restricted to cells that have absorbed a suprathreshold quantity of photonic energy. Photon absorption can lead to an increase in ATP synthesis and the release of reactive oxygen species that can activate specific transcription factors resulting in changes in synthesis of the enzymes needed for cellular proliferation, migration, phagocytosis and protein synthesis, all essential for wound healing. The amount of ATP production is limited in each cell by the availability of ADP and phosphate. Spatial and temporal amplification of the effects of photon absorption increases the range and duration of phototherapy. It may be caused in part by tertiary effects initiated in cells that have not absorbed photons by regulatory proteins such as cytokines secreted by cells that have absorbed photons. Amplification may also be due to changes induced by photons in immune cells, stem cells and soluble protein mediators while in transit through the dermal capillaries. The peripheral location of these capillaries makes their contents readily accessible to photons. The longer the duration of treatment, the greater will be the number of cells in transit that can be affected by photons. Depth of effect may be increased by transduction of electromagnetic energy into mechanical energy. For a treatment to be clinically effective on wound healing, its duration and power may each be important. Components of the immune system, endocrine system and nervous system may also amplify the effects of photons on wound healing.