Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is light based therapy used to treat tumors. In dermatology, photodynamic therapy is used to treat rough, scaly patches of skin damaged by the sun, called actinic keratosis (AK), Bowen’s disease, an early form of squamous cell and superficial basal cell carcinoma. In cancer treatment, it is used to kill cancer cells. In noncancerous conditions like acne, sebaceous gland hyperplasia, and photoaged skin, it is used to reduce, control or eliminate the condition and it is minimally invasive and provides excellent cosmetic results.
How does it work?
A photosensitizing agent (an agent activated by light) is applied to the affected skin; it incubates or is absorbed into damaged skin cells, sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and AK lesions. The affected skin is then exposed to a specific wavelength and intensity of light, destroying the targeted cells.
What does it treat?
- Actinic Keratoses- scaly patches of pre-malignant growths caused by years of sun exposure, particularly on the face, chest, arms and hands.
- Early forms of squamous cell and superficial basal cell cancer.
- In moderate to severe cystic acne, PDT treatments can put acne in remission, and reverse some scarring without oral medications. It kills the bacteria that causes acne, reduces inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions, and oil gland production; and shrinks sebaceous glands, large pores and acne spots. This facilitates better acne control with topical medications and reduces acne flare ups for 12-18 months. Concerns over antibiotic resistance and safety issues have prompted PDT treatment for acne. It is safe and effective with few adverse effects and good cosmetic outcome.
- Sun damaged skin- for skin rejuvenation, this treatment enhances skin tone, texture and blotchy pigmentation and fine lines, as well as treating AKs.
What should you expect?
Your skin will be cleansed and the photosensitizing agent will be applied. It takes one hour for the agent to be absorbed into your skin. Then the light source will be applied to the treated areas for 10 minutes. After the treatment, your skin will be extremely light sensitive for about 48 hours. You must protect the skin during this time with zinc-based sun screen, hats, etc. You will have some redness, peeling, crusting for 2-3 days. You must protect your skin from the sun, even when driving your car. Most people heal in 7 days but redness can last up to 2 weeks.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Miller. He will examine your skin, review your medical history, listen to your concerns and answer your questions. He will explain all the treatment options available for your problem, the risks and benefits, and offer his recommendations based on your needs. His goal is to help you stay healthy and vibrant, so that you look and feel good. Dr. Miller is a board-certified dermatologist with advanced training in medical and surgical dermatology.