By Bernard I Raskin, MD
PDT stands for photodynamic therapy and is a combination of a light sensitizing topical drug called Levulan® and a light/laser. This method can produce outstanding results in the treatment of pre-cancerous lesions or AK’s, acne, sun damage, or as a great skin rejuvenating treatment.
First Levulan® is applied shortly before the treatment; this provides deeper and more complete light penetration. After PDT patients usually experience a couple of days of swelling and crusting. Often 2 or 3 PDT treatments take the place of 5 or 6 IPL/Photofacials. Your provider will choose the treatment that is most suitable for you.
The beauty of this treatment is the reduction of breakouts, broken capillaries, redness, flushing, brown spots, and pigmentation, also many signs of Rosacea may be improved. Most people with discoloration, blood vessels, or aging skin also may benefit. This revved up version of the Photofacial gives faster results with the added benefit of shrinking pores and reducing acne breakouts.
Photodynamic therapy with Levulan® is also a great treatment for Actinic Keratosis or AK’s. Actinic Keratosis , is also known as Solar Keratosis because it is the result of prolonged exposure to sunlight. AK’s are small crusty, scaly or crumbly bumps or horns that arise on the skin. The base of the AK might be light or dark, tan, pink, red, a combination of these, or the same color as your skin. The scale or crust on these is horny, dry, and rough and it is usually recognized by touch. Occasionally the AK may itch or produce a pricking or tender sensation. It can also become inflamed and surrounded by redness. PDT treatment selectively destroys Actinic Keratosis, causing little damage to surrounding normal skin, although some swelling and redness often occurs. Most insurance carriers will cover PDT for the treatment of Actinic Keratosis.
Finally, patients should avoid exposure of the photosensitive treatment sites to sunlight or bright indoor light prior to and at least 48 hours after photodynamic therapy. Exposure may result in a stinging and/or burning sensation and may cause erythema (redness) or edema (swelling) of the lesions. Sunscreens will not protect against photosensitivity reactions caused by visible light.
There are many effective methods to eliminate AK’s, sun damage, acne, and redness, you and your doctor should decide together the best course of treatment.