If you have naturally oily skin, look for gel-based products instead of creams and lotions.
Photodynamic Therapy, or PDT, is a non-invasive treatment option designed for acne scars, sun spots, pre-cancerous actinic keratosis, wrinkles, pore size, skin texture, pigmentation lesions, cystic acne and sebaceous hyperplasia. This rather new treatment involves the use of light energy to activate a light-absorbing agent called aminolerulinic acid (ALA). Several patients report a relatively quick and painless process, without the prolonged use of oral antibiotics or complicated oral drugs.
DESCRIPTION OF TREATMENT
The light absorbing agent Levulan, a 20% solution of ALA (aminolerulinic acid), is applied to the area being treated. The topical agent is left on the skin for 20-60 minutes, which depends on the condition and severity of the area to be treated. The Levulan application is selectively absorbed into the unwanted cells or pimples, acne cysts and overactive sebaceous glands that feed acne bacteria. The unabsorbed Levulan is then removed, and the treatment area is placed under a specific light source. The type of light source can vary, but generally the IPL (intense pulse light) sources, and BLU-U Light sources are used. The light source is then drawn to the targeted problem cells, strong oxygen radicals are formed and the bacteria responsible for the acne are destroyed.
The length of time it takes for a Photodynamic Therapy session greatly varies with the incubation period of the topical solution, which is dependent upon the severity of the areas to be treated.
Several patients report sensations of heat and tingling during treatment. Visible results also vary with the level of Photodynamic Therapy given in any single treatment. A less aggressive treatment will generally require 2-4 sessions for optimal results, while a more aggressive treatment usually only requires 1-2 sessions. All Photodynamic Therapy sessions should be scheduled 3-5 weeks apart.
Most Photodynamic Therapy treatments require 3-7 days of healing and downtime.
Common side effects associated with a Photodynamic Therapy session are considered minimal and temporary. Immediately after the treatment, the skin will most likely appear red and swollen. Some peeling may exist for 2-7 days, and darker pigmentation may be apparent during this process. Dry, itching skin can be treated with soothing moisturizers.
It is extremely important to stay out of sun, and even indoor light for 48 hours after the procedure. At this time, the skin is highly sensitive to light and sunscreen will not provide enough protection. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid extreme temperatures and wind, including hot water and other potential irritants. The use of fans and ice can decrease stinging sensations if evident. In certain cases, 1% of patients treated may have extreme reactions with exfoliation, and can incur more than a week of downtime, which depends on the severity of skin damage.
Photodynamic Therapy was originally FDA approved to treat skin precancers, and mild to moderate actinic keratoses. The Levulan treatment option, together with the BLU-U brand light source is the only current Photodynamic Therapy treatment approved by the FDA. Clinical studies are presently investigating the treatment's expanded use for acne, and other problematic skin conditions.
Comprehensive Photodynamic Therapy treatment packages can range from $2,000-$3,500 for a series of treatments. The price of any Photodynamic Therapy treatment depends on several factors, which include the type of treatment and the severity of the area treated.