Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses a special form of light and a photosensitizing medicine (called Levulan®) to selectively treat precancerous skin lesions called actinic keratoses. Although this treatment is primarily performed for medical reasons, as many as 94% of patients report a cosmetic improvement in the appearance of their skin afterwards.
Photodynamic therapy has proven results in three well-designed clinical trials. After two treatment sessions, 89% of patients demonstrated a 75% improvement in the number of actinic keratoses. 75% of patients demonstrated complete (100%) clearance of all actinic keratoses in the treated areas. PDT is sometimes used (off-label) to treat other conditions such as acne, flat warts, wrinkles/photodamage and sebaceous gland hyperplasia.
In the procedure, the photosensitizing medication, Levulan®, is applied to the skin and the medication preferentially accumulates in damaged skin cells. A special light source, blue light or IPL, is then applied to the skin which activates the Levulan® and selectively destroys precancerous lesions.
This procedure leaves your skin extremely sensitive to outdoor and fluorescent light for 48 hours after the treatment. You must avoid being outside at all (even if you cover up or wear sunscreen) and should avoid sitting next to open windows. That being said, you should bring a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with you to your appointment so that you can safely get home (sunscreen will be applied before you leave our office). For 4-7 days after the treatment, you must avoid all harsh skincare products and use only a gentle cleanser, bland moisturizer and sunscreen.
Also of note- before your PDT treatment, please make your provider aware if you are susceptible to cold sores/fever blisters. You will be instructed to take an anti-viral medication called Valtrex before the appointment.
If you have any questions about Photodynamic therapy, please do not hesitate to contact our office!