What is Photodynamic therapy (PDT)?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is the latest advancement in light therapy for skin cancer prevention. It is a procedure that combines a photosensitizing drug with laser and/or light therapy to selectively target pre-skin cancer (actinic keratoses). The new revolutionary red-light PDT can also readily clear even the worst acne.
How does PDT work?
PDT can help clear the skin of actinic keratoses which are premalignant growths in sun-exposed areas, mainly the face, chest, arms, and hands. It is also effective for moderate to severe acne. A series of treatments can put acne into remission for months as well as reversing some scarring without taking oral medications. There are many less common conditions that PDT can be used for, including sebaceous hyperplasia, oily skin, rosacea, Bowen’s disease, superficial basal cell carcinoma and others.
What to Expect Before, During and After the Procedure
In what feels like a spa treatment, the skin is cleansed and a photosensitizing drug, aminolevulinic acid (ALA) gel in the new nanoemulsion formulation (Ameluz) applied. Nanoemulsion technology allows for rapid tissue penetration to the skin layers compared to the older ALA liquid formulation. You will then rest for 20-30 minutes with a warming pad over the treatment area to prime the skin for PDT. Multiple different light sources can be used including blue light, red light, intense pulsed light, pulsed dye laser and some others. Occasionally you may feel some discomfort during the treatment lessened by fans or cold air. After treatment, the treated area will be light sensitive for 48 hours until the medication is completely metabolized. Hats, scarves and sun block with zinc oxide and light avoidance are required to protect the skin. Most of the time, some redness and mild peeling occur over the first 2-3 days. Occasionally, there can be a burning discomfort for 24 hours and more prolonged peeling and redness for 5-14 days.
One of the benefits of photodynamic therapy is that it allows for more precise targeting of your individual skin issues. Various laser and light sources can be used to activate ALA. We will select the laser or light source that is best suited to your condition, skin type, and treatment area. In addition to treating skin conditions such as actinic keratoses or acne, there is overall skin rejuvenation with improvement of both skin texture and pore size.
Contact Summit Dermatology for Your Personalized Consultation
Cosmetic Dermatologist Serving Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Tacoma, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, Centralia, Shelton, Federal Way & surrounding areas in Washington.