What is Photodynamic Therapy? (PDT)
It is a special treatment performed with a topical photosensitizing agent called Levuan (ALA activated with the correct wavelength of light. This is known as “ALA/PDT treatment.”) These treatments remove sun damaged pre-cancerous zones and spots called actinic keratoses. Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation are also improved because of the positive effect of Levulan and the light treatment. ALA/PDT treatment also has the unique ability to minimize pores and reduce oil glands, effectively treating stubborn acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, and improve the appearance of some acne scars. Levulan is revolutionizing how we perform skin rejuvenation and how we treat sun damaged skin.
Photodynamic Therapy with Levulan is indicated for:
- Removing pre-cancerous actininc keratoses
- Preventing skin cancer
- Improving wrinkles
- Reducing pore size
- Improving skin texture
- Improving pigmentation
- Treating moderate to severe cystic acne
- Treating sebaceous hyperplasia
How much improvement can I expect?
Patients with severe sun damaged skin manifested by actinic keratosis, texture, and tone changes including mottled pigmentation and skin laxity may see excellent results. You may also see improvements of large pores and pitted acne scars. Active acne can improve dramatically.
How many treatments will it take to see the "best results"?
To achieve maximum improvement of pre-cancerous (actinic keratoses) sun damage, skin tone and texture, a series of three treatments 2-4 weeks apart is the most effective. Some patients with only actinic keratoses are happy with just one treatment. More treatments can be done at periodic intervals in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of the skin.
What are the advantages?
Easier for patients than repeated topical liquid nitrogen, Efudex (5fu), or Aldara because the side effects are minimal, rapid healing, and only 1-3 treatments required.
The ALA/PDT treatment at our clinic is less painful versus liquid nitrogen, d-FU, and Aldara.
Reduced Scarring and improved cosmetic outcome compared with cautery, surgery, and Efudex. Liquid Nitrogen can leave white shots of your skin.
Levulan improves the whole facial area treated, creating all one color, texture, and tone rather than just spot treating with liquid nitrogen, cautery, and surgery.
What are the disadvantages?
Following PDT, the treated areas can appear red with some peeling for 2-7 days. Some patients have an exuberant response to PDT, and experience marked redness of their skin. Temporary swelling of the lips and around your eyes can occur for a few days. Darker pigmented patches called liver spots can become temporarily darker and then peel off leaving normal skin. (This usually occurs over seven to ten days.) Repeat treatments may be necessary as PDT medicine is not an exact science.
In summary, PDT matches the “ideal treatment” for photodamaged skin:
- Easily performed in a specialty clinic environment
- Non-invasive (no needles or surgery required)
- Excellent cosmetic outcome (particularly in cosmetically sensitive areas of the face).