WHAT IS PHOTODYNAMIC LIGHT THERAPY?
Photodynamic light therapy (PDT) is a non-invasive therapy that uses multiple light treatment sessions in conjunction with a photosensitizing agent, an inactive medication that only activates when exposed to ultraviolet radiation or sunlight. This agent could be 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA or Levulan), which is administered directly on the skin. Then, blue light is then applied to activate the Levulan.
PDT can treat:
- Actinic keratosis, which are precancerous cells on the face and scalp
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Sun-damaged skin
- Skin infections
- Hidradenitis suppurativa (lumps under the skin commonly found in the armpits or groin)
Ready to be evaluated by a dermatologist to see if photodynamic light therapy is an option for you? Request an appointment here.
BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER A PHOTODYNAMIC LIGHT THERAPY TREATMENT
Prior to treatment, your dermatologist will sit down with you to discuss if you are a good candidate.
Always tell your dermatologist if you:
- Take medications that make you sensitive to light
- Have medication allergies
- Have had prior PDT treatments
- Had a staph infection or cold sores
- Have any other medical conditions
During your consultation, your best treatment options, how many treatments are recommended, and what to expect during the appointment will be discussed.
Before the Procedure
Before your treatment, your dermatologist will ask that you:
- Come to your appointment with the treatment area washed. This includes removing lotion, sunscreen and makeup.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, scarf, gloves or a long-sleeved shirt.
- Stop drinking and smoking. This can interfere with the healing process.
- Bring a companion along if you are uncomfortable driving following your appointment.
During the Procedure
During the procedure, the treatment area will be cleansed with acetone. The ALA will be applied directly to the skin, and the incubation period of 60 to 120 minutes will begin. Following the incubation period, your 20 to 30 minute blue light treatment to activate the Levulan will begin.
During treatment, you are encouraged to bring with them light reading material or music.
After the Procedure
Recovery from this procedure is relatively simple and you may be able to resume your normal daily activities. During this time, you will be asked to stay out of direct sunlight for 24 to 48 hours, and apply sunscreen to the area before leaving the office.
Your dermatologist may also recommend:
- Washing the area with gentle soap and water.
- Keeping your hands away from the area. This will help you resist picking the dry affected area as it can cause irritation or scarring.
- Avoiding wearing makeup.
Additionally, if you encounter mild side effects like swelling, it is recommended that they apply cold ice packs to the area for five to 20 minutes every hour during the first eight to 24 hours.
If you experience infections, cold-sores, extreme swelling, fevers or any other reactions not discussed by the dermatologist, you should contact the dermatology office.
HOW CAN MY DERMATOLOGIST HELP?
At the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, we are dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information possible. If you are interested in getting a photodynamic light therapy treatment, it is best to go to a dermatologist so that you can discuss your skin care goals and treatment options.