Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a medical treatment that uses a photosensitizing drug that becomes activated by light exposure and a light source.
Photodynamic therapy is currently used in a number of medical fields including dermatology (skin), and cosmetic surgery. In dermatology, Photodynamic therapy combines with the photosensitizer Levulan Kerastick (20% delta-aminolevulinic acid (HCl) to treat pre-skin cancers called actinic keratosis (AK). The initial approval was specifically for normal actinic keratosis of the face and scalp. With a specified 14-18-hour drug incubation time and 1,000 seconds (16 minutes and 40 seconds) of activation by a blue light source, Photodynamic therapy is used to treat many skin conditions.
Some of these include:
- Skin cancer
- Cosmetic skin improvement
- Enlarged sebaceous glands
- Oily skin
- Sun damage
- Rejuvenation or anti-aging
- Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Photodynamic Therapy is not used to treat moles or birthmarks.
What Are the Benefits of Photodynamic Therapy?
The greatest advantage of Photodynamic therapy is its ability to selectively treat an entire area of skin damage. Photodynamic therapy generally decreases the likelihood of lighter or darker skin spots or post-inflammatory hyper or hypo pigmentation. Additionally, Photodynamic therapy may facilitate smoother skin and an overall improved appearance, tone, color, and enhanced textures.
Photodynamic therapy does have its limits however. It can only treat areas where light can reach so this means that it is mainly used to treat problems on the skin, just under the skin, or in the lining of internal organs. The drugs may travel throughout the body, but the treatment only works at the area that is exposed to light. Also, the drugs that are used in Photodynamic therapy leave people very sensitive to light for some time, so special precautions must be taken after the drugs are put in or on the body.
In summary, some of the benefits of Photodynamic Therapy are:
- Performed on an outpatient basis
- Relatively pain-free
- Less risk than surgical procedures
- It has no long-term side effects when used properly
- It is less invasive than surgery
- It usually takes only a short time and is most often done as an outpatient
- It can be targeted very precisely
- Unlike radiation, Photodynamic therapy can be repeated many times at the same site if needed
- There is little or no scarring after the site heals
Call Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena today for an examination of your skin or to consult with us if you have been diagnosed with skin cancer.
What Can I Expect from My Photodynamic Therapy?
Depending on the area being treated and the recommended incubation time, different numbers of treatment sessions spaced four to six weeks apart may be required to achieve your desired improvement results. It is not always possible to predict ahead of time how many treatments your specific condition may take or how you will respond to Photodynamic therapy. This treatment will need your patience and your willingness to follow the post procedure instructions, including staying out of the sun depending on the area treated and your dermatologist’s requirements.
To achieve maximum improvement of pre-cancerous actinic keratosis sun damage, skin tone, and texture, a series of two to three treatments two to six weeks apart may be quite effective. Some patients with milder actinic keratosis are happy with one treatment but if not, more can be performed at periodic intervals in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of your skin.
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