PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY (REDLIGHT)
PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT) is a safe, effective, non-surgical procedure used to treat a variety of skin conditions including acne, rosacea, sun damage, actinic keratoses (precursor lesions to skin cancers), and certain types of skin cancer.
PDT Procedure for Sun Damage, Actinic Keratoses and Superficial Skin Cancers
A photosensitizing agent called aminolevulinic acid (ALA) in either a solution or gel form (Levulan® or Ameluz® respectively) is applied to the skin. Although the connotation of an application of acid onto the skin sounds painful, the application of ALA is not uncomfortable whatsoever. The ALA is then allowed to incubate on the skin for three hours. The ALA must be activated by a light source, and although the ALA can be activated by a variety of light sources, we will activate the ALA using UV red light. This effect activates and destroys abnormal skin cells while leaving healthy skin unharmed.
Prior to Treatment:
- Avoid prolonged direct sun exposure (golf, beach, pool, etc) for 1 week prior to your procedure.
- Avoid the use of retinoids (Retin-A, Tazorac, Differin, Z*RO Wrinkles) or retinol-containing products 1 week prior to your procedure.
- Please inform your provider if you have a history of recurrent cold sores. We will prescribe oral antiviral medicine to be started on the day of your treatment.
- All patients with darker skin tones must use Z*RO Dark Spots with hydroquinone for a minimum of 2 weeks prior to treatment. This down-regulates pigment and prepares the skin for treatment.
- Do not apply makeup, lotions, or any skin care products prior to treatment.
- All men must shave their face the day of treatment prior to the application of Levulan® or Ameluz®.
- Do NOT wash your face once the Levulan® or Ameluz® has been applied.
- Avoid outdoor activities (IE walking your dog) in the morning prior to treatment as even sunlight through the clouds can activate the ALA.
- Wear a hat or use an umbrella to shield your skin from the sun.
- A slight burning or stinging sensation is normal even in indirect sunlight.
- It is normal for the skin to turn a pinkish hue prior to treatment.
- If your pain threshold is low and you have been prescribed narcotic medication, please take this medication an hour and a half prior to treatment and make arrangements to be driven to and from our office for treatment.
- The activation portion of the procedure with red light is performed in-office and takes approximately 10-20 minutes.
- The sensation of the treatment can be compared to pins and needles or getting sunburned. The treatment can be paused if needed but is not recommended.
Post Treatment Tips:
- Immediately following your treatment, stay indoors for the entire day
- Avoid direct sunlight as well as bright indoor lights for 24 to 48 hours. The photosensitivity to direct sunlight usually subsides within 72 hours, but may last up to one week.
- If you have any discomfort, begin applying ice packs or cool compresses to the treated areas as frequently as necessary.
- Place your moisturizer in the fridge, and apply as needed for a cooling effect.
- If swelling occurs, it may last for a few days. Elevate your head on two pillows to decrease swelling. Ice 20-minutes per hour for significant swelling.
- For pain relief, take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Advil®, Motrin®, or Tylenol®.
- You may apply topical Hydrocortisone 1% lotion or cream to reduce stinging and burning however USE ONLY IF NECESSARY. Using a topical steroid blunts the immune response, which may decrease the efficacy of treatment. This can be purchased over-the-counter.
- You may shower as desired. Do not let hair products touch the face or treated area.
- Avoid hot tubs and spas for one-week post-treatment.
- Avoid working out or excessively sweating until the peeling (if it occurs) ceases.
After Care Regimen:
- Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands prior to touching your face.
- Cleanse skin with a gentle cleanser (our recommendation: Atoderm Cleansing Oil), use cool water and your fingertips. Do NOT use a Clarisonic® brush or anything similar until after the peeling stops. This should be done twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Moisten and irrigate the skin to promote the wound healing process with Lasercyn® Dermal Spray as frequently as necessary. If you leave your house, when you return, use the Lasercyn® Dermal Spray immediately to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi you may have encountered after leaving home.
- Your skin may appear red and flaky and feel dry and tight for 1-2 weeks following treatment. Use a moisturizer (our recommendation: Bioderma Sebium Hydra or Aquaphor) as frequently as necessary to aid in discomfort. You should moisturize immediately after cleansing, and any other time your skin feels dry, tight, or itchy throughout the day.
- Use sunblock with only titanium dioxide or zinc oxide every morning after moisturizing (our recommendation: Z*ROC Mattifying Sunscreen). It is especially effective at protecting your newly rejuvenated skin.
- No picking, peeling or scrubbing the skin in any way while healing which could lead to scarring.
- For facial hair, no shaving with a razor blade until day 5 post-treatment.
- You may use makeup and return to your normal skincare routine once any peeling or crusting has healed, and as long as the skin is not broken. Most patients have completed the peeling process after 7 to 10 days.
- If the skin is broken or a blister appears, apply an antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin or Polysporin) and contact the office immediately.
- The area may be a healthy pink for up to 1 month. You can resume your normal skincare routine one week after the day of your treatment.
- Atoderm Cleansing Oil
- Lasercyn Dermal Spray
- Bioderma Sebium Hydra moisturizer
- Z*Roc Mattifying Sunscreen
*All products can be purchased in the office before or the same day as your treatment. These products are highly recommended for the best outcome while healing.
Treatments are typically spaced in 4-week intervals, although the actual number of treatments, treatment time, and treatment intervals will vary depending on your condition. A follow-up examination is conducted 2 weeks post-procedure to assess the efficacy and possible necessity of further treatments.
The most obvious benefit of this procedure is the improvement in the overall appearance of the treated area. The number of pre-cancerous lesions will decrease by about 90%. With each treatment, these improvements will continue to increase ultimately providing you with smoother, healthier, younger-looking skin.