PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT), also known as ALA/PDT, is a treatment performed with a topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan® (5-aminolevulinic acid or ALA) that is applied to the skin and then activated with a specific wavelength of light. Treatment results in the removal of sun-damaged, precancerous spots formally known as “actinic keratoses”.
The appearance of fine lines, blotchy pigmentation, and rough skin patches also are considerably improved with treatment. PDT has the unique ability to minimize pores and reduce oil glands. This means that effective treatment for stubborn acne vulgaris, acne Rosacea, and improved appearance of some acne scars is achievable.
What are the side effects?
The treated area may appear red and some patients experience peeling for up to seven days following treatment. Mild swelling can occur around the lips or eyes. If swelling occurs, it is usually temporary and will subside within a day or two. Sensitive skin may appear very red for the first couple of days. Pigmentation spots can become temporarily darker and then will peel off, leaving the skin smooth and even-toned. After treatment, patients are advised to stay out of the sun and to consistently use a protective sun block for several days.
How much improvement can I expect?
Improvement is noticeable after each treatment. People with severely sun-damaged skin, actinic keratoses, rough skin patches, poor skin texture, and uneven pigmentation may see excellent results. Treatment improves the appearance of large pores and some acne scars.
How many treatments will I need?
To achieve the maximum improvement to the skin’s appearance, texture, and tone, a series of three or more treatments performed two to four weeks apart is often recommended. Some skin conditions respond with a single treatment. Additional treatments can be performed as needed or to maintain desired result.
How is the procedure performed?
First, the area being treated is cleansed and properly prepared for treatment. In some cases, microdermabrasion or an exfoliating scrub may be performed. On some skin types, a gentle cleanser will be used. Levulan® is applied evenly to the area and may be left on the skin for up to an hour. Once removed, several techniques may be employed to correct your skin, including Blue Light therapy, Intense Pulsed Light treatment, or Laser Skin Rejuvenation. In some cases, a topical anesthetic is applied for added comfort.
Will treatment improve acne?
Yes. Acne is a disease involving the sebaceous glands of the skin and affects over 80% of adolescents and many adults. During puberty, our bodies produce large amounts of an oily substance called sebum. Sebum, when combined with excess skin debris, sticks together in our pores causing them to become plugged. Without effective treatment, these clogged pores can become infected, red, and swollen forming unsightly pimples that can lead to scarring. Topical creams can irritate the skin and take months to work. Antibiotics can have multiple side effects and become less effective over time. After several PDT treatments, mild and active acne conditions can dramatically improve.
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On the day of treatment:
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