PDT PHOTO DYNAMIC THERAPY
It has been referred to as a “super photo facial” when the photosensitizer is used with a machine called intense pulsed light or IPL. These treatments may help remove sun-damaged precancerous skin. Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation may also be improved because of the positive effect of PDT. PDT also has been shown to help decrease the appearance of pores and reduce oil glands, effectively treating some stubborn acne, rosacea, and improving the appearance of some small superficial acne scars.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a medical treatment that uses a photosensitizing drug (a drug that becomes activated by light exposure) and a light source to activate the applied drug. The result is an activated oxygen molecule that can destroy nearby cells. Precancerous cells and certain types of cancer cells can be treated this way. The procedure is easily performed in a physician’s office or outpatient setting.
PDT essentially has three steps. First, a light-sensitizing liquid, cream, or intravenous drug (photosensitizer) is applied or administered. Second, there is an incubation period of minutes to days. Finally, the target tissue is then exposed to a specific wavelength of light that then activates the photosensitizing medication.
- application of photosensitizer drug
- incubation period
- light activation
PDT using Levulan and a proprietary blue light is currently FDA approved for the treatment of skin precancers called actinic keratosis (rough scaly spots generally on sun-exposed skin). PDT is also known as “ALA/PDT treatment” or “Super Blue Light.” It has been referred to as a “super photo facial” when the photosensitizer is used with a machine called intense pulsed light or IPL. These treatments may help remove sun-damaged precancerous skin. Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation may also be improved because of the positive effect of PDT. PDT also has been shown to help decrease the appearance of pores and reduce oil glands, effectively treating some stubborn acne, rosacea, and improving the appearance of some small superficial acne scars.
No two individuals are the same, and results may vary. Some conditions can improve dramatically in some patients and not respond in others.
Overall, patients with severely sun-damaged skin with actinic keratosis, texture, and tone changes including mottled pigmentation, dull or sallow skin, and skin laxity may see good to excellent improvement with PDT. There can be improvement of large pores, non-pitted acne scars, and active acne.
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 the desired improvement and reduction in lesions. On average, a series of two to three treatments are performed. It is not always possible to predict ahead of time how many treatments your specific condition may take or how you will respond to PDT.
Photodynamic therapy requires staying out of the sun for 24-48 hours depending on the area treated.
The greatest advantage of PDT is the ability to selectively treat an entire area of skin damage and precancers (blanket or field treatment). PDT generally decreases the likelihood of lighter or darker skin spots (post-inflammatory hyper- or hypopigmentation) caused by routine freezing with liquid nitrogen. Additionally, PDT frequently may facilitate smoother skin and an overall improved appearance, tone, color, and enhanced skin texture.
The best candidates for PDT may be those with lighter or fair skin with sun damage.
You may not be a good candidate for photodynamic therapy if you have darker skin that tends to turn brown or discolor with certain light or laser treatments. You may also not be a good candidate for PDT if you are very sensitive to light, burn extremely easily, would be unable to stay out of sunlight for the required 24-48 hours, or are taking medications which may make you very sensitive to sunlight or light-based therapies.
Your personal practitioner will likely let you know the preoperative instructions specific for your condition.
For many typical PDT procedures in a physician’s office, most patients are advised come in with a clean, washed area without any lotions or makeup. You may generally eat your regular diet on the day of their procedure and take all of your regular daily medications. Your skin should be fully clean and free of all makeup, moisturizers, and sunscreens.
Recovery is usually fairly easy and uneventful. Many patients have mild dryness and a faint to mild sunburn of the treated area. A small percent of patients may have moderate or marked discomfort and a harder recovery because of more skin dryness, redness, or burning.