Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment for a number of skin conditions such as sun spots, sun damage, aging, acne and skin cancer. During the treatment a cream is applied to the skin for about 1 hour and then the skin is exposed to either a Blue, Red or Pulsed yellow light. The cream is selectively taken up by the abnormal skin cells. The cream within the cells is then activated by the light leading to removal of abnormal cells. This in turn allow new skin cells to form.
A cream called 5 ALA is applied to the skin, which destabilizes abnormal cells when exposed to blue, red or yellow light. This allows easy removal of abnormal skin cells.
The cream is safe and does not lead to cancer or serious side effects. The cream does make people very sensitive to sunlight for 48 hours after treatment, so strict sunscreen use is essential.
The ALA cream is activated by many different light and laser sources. Pulsed light (IPL), Blue and Red light are commonly used. These are not ultraviolet lights, so do not cause skin cancers. These light sources are not X rays so are not harmful to your body or your skin. Many studies have shown that PDT may help to prevent skin cancers. When PDT is combined with Pulsed Light (IPL) there is significant rejuvenation of the skin, and reduction of red veins and brown marks.
Photodynamic therapy is highly effective in treating sun spots, and some skin cancers with a cure rate of over 80%. In the treatment of sun damage and aging, the cosmetic improvement is significant. Skin texture and colour usually are substantially improved, and many brown blemishes disappear. PDT is useful in the treatment of acne, and can be used in conjunction with other acne therapies. Several treatment sessions are usually needed.
During PDT there is some burning discomfort. A cooling fan is used to minimize this discomfort.
No. PDT does not need an anesthetic. No hospitalisation is required.
1. Sunscreen protection for 48 hours strictly is essential 2. Moisturizer for peeling skin 3. Makeup may be worn immediately after treatment
You may be red and swollen for a few days after treatment and in some cases up to 1 week. There may also be some peeling of the skin.
Complications are uncommon but could include: Infection Scarring Pigmentation Loss pigmentation Sun sensitivity Recurrence of original skin lesions.
Alternatives to PDT include: Liquid Nitrogen Aldara cream Effudix cream Solaraze cream