What is PDT?
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) involves applying a topical solution to the skin that makes it very sensitive to light, then exposing the skin to a particular wavelength of light. Most often, in our office we use Levulan® Kerastick® (aminolevulinic acid HCI) as our topical solution and blue light from our Blu-U® or ClearLight™ device depending on the area being treated. The PDT treatment targets and destroys only the damaged cells, leaving healthy cells intact.
What does PDT treat?
Actinic keratoses (AKs) are the most common skin condition we treat using PDT. In addition to removing pre-cancerous actininc keratoses which can help prevent skin cancer from forming, PDT can also be used in the treatment of acne and reversing sun damage.
What are the advantages of PDT treatments?
- Low downtime
- No prescription to fill
- No daily medication to remember
- Excellent cosmetic response
- No scarring
What happens during treatment?
The area to be treated is cleaned with alcohol before the Levulan is applied. The patient then needs to allow the Levulan to time to work, which can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 4 hours depending on the area being treated and the number of PDT treatments the patient has had. After the allotted time is up, the patient is put under the blue light of either the Blu-U or ClearLight device usually for 15 minutes.
What to expect during treatment?
You may experience stinging or burning during the blue light part of your treatment, but this should subside between 1 minute and 24 hours after the blue light is turned off.
- Avoid exposing the treated area to sunlight and other forms of bright light for at least 48 hours. Examples include light from windows and computer and household lights at close range. Sunscreen alone will not protect against photosensitivity reactions caused by visible light during this time. Remember to wear light protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, during this time.
- You may experience side effects following your Levulan PDT treatment. The most common side effects are:
- Burning/stinging, which could be severe, may last up to 24 hours after your treatment
- Redness and swelling which may last up to 4 weeks after your treatment
- Scaling/crusting which may last up to 4 weeks after your treatment
- You may apply moisturizers as needed.
Efficacy proven in medical studies
Many of the patients participating in the studies experienced 75-100% clearance of Grade 1 or 2 AKs eight weeks after treatment with Levulan® Kerastick® Topical Solution and blue light treatment.