Photodynamic therapy, otherwise known as PDT, has been proven successful in treating acne as well as precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses. It is FDA approved and can also effectively treat some early stage cancers. Additionally, the photorejuvenation therapy harnessed by PDT has also been proven effective against rosacea. If you have stubborn acne vulgaris or unsightly precancerous lesions, PDT may be a simple and effective treatment option that can help improve damaged skin.
PDT destroys abnormal cells by harnessing the power of a topical photo sensitizer called Levulan, or aminolevulinic acid (ALA), combined with a special light and molecular oxygen. ALA, a natural substance found throughout the body, is activated by light to destroy target tissue cells.
Along with being able to remove damaged skin cells, PDT has the power to minimize pores, reduce oil production, and kill acne causing bacteria, effectively treating stubborn acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, and even the appearance of acne scars. Better yet, PDT acts not only to decrease active acne breakouts but also to reduce pore size, helping to prevent future acne by minimizing the breeding ground available to bacteria.
Actinic keratoses, or AKs, are pre-cancerous lesions that arise from UV damage. It is important to get regular skin checks to determine if you have any of these lesions, as they have a chance of turning into a form of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated. The dermatological community regards PDT treatment as an effective treatment for treating AKs, superficial basal and squamous cell carcinomas, and Bowen's disease. Levulan, the topical photo sensitizer, will be applied and left on your skin as long as Dr. Day and her team deem appropriate for your specific condition. The PDT will then work with the Levulan treatment to clear the AKs, while also improving fine lines and blotchy pigment.
On the day of your PDT treatment, you can expect to be in our office for approximately a half hour for treatment of acne and an hour and a half for treatment of sun damaged skin or precancerous lesions. Prior to the procedure, your skin will be prepped, ensuring skin is clean and free of all makeup, moisturizers, and sunscreens. If you are getting PDT treatment for AKs, topical ALA will be applied to your skin and allowed to incubate for painlessly for approximately 1 hour. The PDT protocol for acne involves sitting under the Blu-U light source with goggles on for an 18 minute session, and the protocol for AKs involves sitting under the light for 22 minutes. You may feel a very mild stinging when your skin is exposed to the light. After the session is complete, you should feel no pain. You can expect mild to moderate redness and scaling that may persist for up to 5 days, similar to a mild sunburn. Patients usually require at least 3 treatments spaced at 3 week intervals, with maintenance sessions recommended to achieve long term reduction in lesions.
You should refrain from having PDT if you are pregnant, have been on isotretinoin within 3 months, or have an active cold sore. In addition, patients with pacemakers or internal defibrillators should not have PDT. Otherwise, if you have diffuse actinic keratoses, rosacea, sun damage, textural irregularities, or acne you could benefit greatly from a PDT session. Call Day Dermatology & Aesthetics to schedule your personalized consultation today!