What is PhotoDynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a special treatment performed with a topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan (5-aminolevulinic acid or ALA) activated with the correct wavelength of light. This is also known as "ALA or PDT treatment", Levulan photofacial or Photodynamic Therapy. These treatments remove sun damaged pre-cancerous zones and spots called actinic keratoses. Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation are also improved because of the positive effect of Levulan and the light treatment..
Photodynamic Therapy with Levulan is used for:
- Removing pre-cancerous skin lesions
- Preventing skin cancer
- Improving wrinkles
- Improving pores
- Improving skin texture
- Improving pigmentation
- Treating moderate to severe cystic acne
- Treating sebaceous hyperplasia
PhotoDymanic Therapy for Actinic Keratosis
How much improvement can I expect?
If you have severely sun damaged skin manifested by Actinic Keratoses, texture, and tone changes including mottled pigmentation and skin laxity, you'll likely see excellent results. You may also see improvement of large pores and pitted acne scars.
How many treatments will it take to see the "best" results?
To achieve maximum improvement of pre-cancerous (actinic keratoses) sun damage, skin tone and texture, a series of 2-3 treatments 6-8 weeks apart is most effective... Some patients with just actinic keratoses are happy with one treatment. More treatments can be done at periodic intervals in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of your skin.
What are the disadvantages?
Following PDT, the treated areas can appear red and swollen with some peeling for 2-7 days. Some patients have an exuberant response to PDT, and experience marked redness of their skin. Temporary swelling of the lips and tissue around your eyes can occur for a few days. Darker pigmented patches called liver spots can become temporarily darker and then peel off leaving normal skin. (This usually occurs over seven to ten days). Repeat treatments may be necessary.
ALA Levulan is active for 48 hours so you must stay inside for two days following treatment. This is an important consideration in scheduling your treatment.
What are the advantages?
- Easier for patients than repeated topical liquid nitrogen, Efudex (5-Fu), or Aldara because the side effects are minimal and there is rapid healing.
- The ALA/PDT treatment is relatively painless versus liquid nitrogen, 5-FU and Aldara.
- Reduced scarring and improved cosmetic outcome compared with cautery, surgery and Efudex.
- Liquid nitrogen can leave white spots on skin.
- Levulan improves your whole facial area treated creating one color, texture and tone rather than just spot treating with liquid nitrogen, cautery and surgery.
In summary, PDT matches the "Ideal treatment" for actinic damage:
- Well tolerated (essentially painless)
- Non-Invasive (no needles or surgery required)
- Excellent cosmetic outcome (particularly in sensitive areas of your face)