Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a type of skin treatment that uses a photosensitizing topical agent and a blue light source.

The 2-step (drug + blue light) treatment is designed to treat minimally to moderately thick actinic keratoses (AK) lesions on the face, scalp or upper extremities. Once the drug is applied and penetrated into the skin, the blue light will “turn on” the drug, causing it to react with oxygen which forms a chemical that will weaken and destroy precancerous cells. The combined result is a gentle, non-invasive treatment that provides highly-effective results.  

What Does the PDT Process Entail?

When you come to the office for photodynamic therapy, the first step will be to clean and prep the area being treated with alcohol and acetone. This will remove any excess oil from the skin to allow the absorption of the topical photosensitizing drug. 

Next, the unique photosensitizing medication will be applied to the skin, and you will wait anywhere from 1 to 3 hours for the medication to be absorbed into your skin. 

After the incubation period has passed, you will be given protective goggles and positioned under the blue light for 16 minutes and 40 seconds.  Most patients rarely report pain during treatment, but some may experience a slight tingling or mild burning sensation. You will be given a fan to help cool your skin during the short treatment.

After treatment, your face will be cleansed and sunscreen will be applied. Your skin will be extremely light-sensitive, so it is imperative that you stay inside and out of the sun for at least 48 hours. The day after treatment, your skin will be red and possibly swollen, similar to a sunburn.  It is also normal to experience mild peeling after a PDT treatment. Depending on the severity of a patient’s actinic keratosis, one to three treatments will be recommended, spaced one month apart.

PDT handout

What’s a Rich Text element?





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