Sun damage, acne and rosacea all leave their mark on skin. For those looking for fast or profound results, photodynamic therapy, also known as photo rejuvenation, may be an ideal choice. The process corrects the unseen damage at a cellular level, while making skin appear more healthy, smooth, and clear.
What is PDT?
PDT is a fast, effective alternative to topical creams, other light therapy, liquid nitrogen, and surgery commonly used as treatments for these issues and precancerous conditions. While other treatment options target only the cells visible to the naked eye, PDT goes deeper, destroying the tiny precancerous cells not yet visible to prevent them from becoming cancerous.
PDT offers relief from the conditions listed as well as considerably more luminous skin. Many patients see improvement after just 1 to 2 treatments, 30 days apart. Treatment plans may cover the entire area of your skin rather than just individual spots to treat cells too small to be seen. Follow up treatments annually may be recommended to maintain protection.
PDT uses light or laser energy to act against skin diseases as well as:
- Sun damage
- Precancerous cells (actinic keratosis)
- Inflammatory rosacea
How PDT is performed
PDT is not painful, but may cause slight discomfort during treatment, like a rubber band snapping on your skin. The treatment area is first coated with a prescription solution called Levulan, which makes the target cells or glands more sensitive to light. The combination of Levulan and light not only treats the diseased skin cells or glands, it also makes your skin more healthy, smooth, and clear, and may even prevent skin cancer.
Your skin will be cleansed, then coated with Levulan for 60-120 minutes so your skin can absorb the medication. The second step is treatment uses either a light or laser.
After treatment, we will apply sunscreen to the treated area and give you specific after-treatment instructions.
Candidates for PDT
PDT may be recommended for those with sun-damaged skin, actinic keratosis, acne, inflammatory rosacea, hidradenitis suppurativa, and other, less-common skin diseases. Proper treatment plans depend on a good understanding of your skin or an accurate diagnosis, by one of our doctors or your dermatologist.
Treatment area that are tanned or recently exposed to the sun, may delay treatment until the tan fades to reduce undesirable side effects such as blisters or crusts.
Pregnant women or patients taking Accutane during the previous six months are not eligible for PDT.
What to expect
PDT often results in redness and scaling, similar to having a sunburn, for about a week. Severely damaged skin may experience burning discomfort in the treated area.
After-treatment care is critical with PDT. Your skin will be highly sensitive to light, so sunlight must be avoided completely for 48 hours after treatment. You will need to wear a hat and sunglasses and/or a scarf to drive home, and avoid windows and outdoor activities during daylight hours. Do not expose the area to sunlight, even briefly. Even while following instructions carefully you may experience redness, peeling, or both. Make-up may be applied after the first 24 hours.
PDT may be combined with traditional photo rejuvenation, chemical peels, tissue tightening treatments, injectable fillers and other therapies depending on your skin condition.