Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy is a treatment for moderately severe and/or cystic acne using the photosensitizing medication Levulan and blue light. Levulan is absorbed into the sebaceous glands, which play a major role in the cause of acne. Light activation of Levulan causes temporary destruction of the sebaceous glands and bacteria that results in dramatic improvement in the severity of patients' acne.

How does Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) Work?
In photodynamic therapy a photosensitizer (Levulan®) is applied to the skin. This is absorbed preferentially by certain structures in the skin, such as hair follicles, oil glands, bacteria, or rapidly growing cells. Illumination with a high-intensity light or lasers causes a reaction in the skin, resulting in destruction of the targeted tissue.

What Types of Conditions can be Treated with PDT?
Photodynamic therapy has been effective in the treatment of actinic keratoses (pre-cancerous spots), sun damaged skin, acne, warts, and many other diseases.

How Does PDT Treat Acne?
Photodynamic therapy seems to treat acne by decreasing the bacteria on the skin and by shrinking the oil-producing sebaceous glands.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is PDT Uncomfortable?
During PDT the skin is washed several times and the activated substance is applied. Either of these may cause stinging. Following treatment there may be some transient itching and a mild sunburn sensation.

Could I have a photosensitivity reaction?
After PDT, a small amount of activated substance remains in the skin for 24 to 48 hours. Sunlight and even indoor light may affect this and cause redness and itching. Use of sunscreen and a hat may diminish these undesired effects.

Could I feel a itching or burning sensation?
Most people experience mild burning or itching for about one hour after the procedure, although this can last a day or two. Mild to moderate redness may be experienced for 24 to 48 hours. Only gentle emollients should be applied to the skin.

Could I get a swelling reaction?
Areas most likely to swell are around the eyes. This will subside within several hours. Application of ice or cold packs may help.

Will my skin peel?
Peeling of treated skin may occur several days after the procedure and can be alleviated by gentle washing and application of a slightly thicker moisturizer. Consult your doctor if any of these side effects seem severe or cause significant discomfort.

Lasers safely penetrate the skin to an optimal treatment depth to thermally and selectively destroy overactive sebaceous glands. In addition to its thermal penetration effects, the acne laser treatment also accelerates the healing process and stimulates collagen remodeling, an important step in the long-term treatment of acne. RSS