Valley Skin Institute is proud to offer photodynamic therapy (PDT). This innovative dermatology treatment specifically targets and destroys precancerous skin damage.
It combines the application of topical medication that is absorbed by precancerous cells, then activated by a special blue or red light source to destroy sun damage.
Pre-cancer lessions called actinic keratoses, and certain other types of early cancer cells can be eliminated with PDT. Acne can also be treated as well, although this is usually not covered by insurance.
A light-sensitizing liquid, cream, or (photosensitizer) is applied to the area being treated
There is an incubation period (several minutes up to an hour)
The skin is exposed to a specific wavelength of light that then activates the photosensitizing medication. This destroys the bad tissue.
The greatest advantage of PDT is the ability to selectively treat an entire area of skin damage and precancerous actinic keratoses (blanket or field treatment). PDT generally decreases the likelihood of lighter or darker skin spots (post-inflammatory hyper- or hypopigmentation) caused by routine freezing with liquid nitrogen. Additionally, PDT frequently may facilitate smoother skin and an overall improved appearance, tone, color, and enhanced skin texture.
In several studies, PDT has been preferred by many patients for ease of use and rapid recovery as compared to alternative treatments including freezing and topical fluorouracil (Efudex). The PDT side effects may be milder with less downtime than with fluorouracil.
For patients with many skin lesions, PDT may be generally more effective than repeated spot treatment with topical liquid nitrogen. Some patients are unable to tolerate the prolonged treatment required with fluorouracil or imiquimod (Aldara) because of the irritation, redness, and possible downtime with these topical creams. PDT is very well-tolerated, noninvasive (no needles or surgery required) procedure to help reduce sun damage and enhance the overall cosmetic outcome (particularly in sensitive areas of the face and chest).
No, PDT causes a temporary sensitivity to light, including natural sunlight and some indoor lights. The light sensitivity resolves with time, depending on both the photosensitizer drug and dosage used.
Light avoidance is generally required after PDT. The duration depends on the drug and dosage used.
Most patients tolerate the minor procedure very well without any complications. Since an exaggerated light-sensitive reaction is expected by definition of PDT, most patients understand and expect some type of a sunburn or red reaction after skin PDT. However, some patients may have no visible reaction or redness.
Possible risks and complications of PDT include burning of the treated area, skin discoloration, skin redness, prominent tiny blood vessels (telangiectasia), pain, infection, cold-sore activation, blisters, scabs, unsightly scars, cosmetic disfigurement, skin discoloration, eye injury or swelling, allergic reactions, prolonged sun sensitivity, and reaction to topical anesthesia.
Minor, serious, or life-threatening reactions can occur with the use of anesthetics or with medications given before, after, or during a procedure.
No, PDT usually does not leave scars in typical cases. Overall when you undergo PDT, there will be some type of a red skin reaction and irritation for 3 to 10 days after the treatment. Some people are more sensitive to PDT and the light treatment than others. Similarly, some people heal better or faster than others. Some residual redness may be more noticeable depending on the location and skin type. Some people may have temporary skin discoloration that may last weeks to months. Patients with darker skin types may have more skin discoloration after treatment.
Photodynamic therapy is currently considered a medical service for the treatment of some conditions, particularly for actinic keratosis. However, it may be considered cosmetic, or not medically indicated for conditions for which it is regularly used.
Contact your insurance carrier prior to scheduling any treatment and confirm your eligibility and benefits.
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