Photodynamic Therapy (PDT™) is the combined use of topical photosensitizer 5-Amino Levulenic Acid (ALA™) and a variety of light sources. In our office we use IPL™ and clear light. The evolution of PDT™ procedures is revolutionizing the treatment of a variety of clinical conditions, ranging from actinic (sun) damage to acne, and has increased our ability to improve the cosmetic appearance of our patients.
PDT™ has proven to be an effective adjunct for treating sun-damage when coupled with the Lumenis IPL™ device and Clear Light for treating the other aspects of actinic damage. When coupled with ALA™, the IPL™ device has proven to be effective in activating the ALA-associated with damaged cells, thus removing actinically damaged cells, including pre-cancers and early skin cancers.
A natural chemical (Levulan or ALA – Amniolevulinic Acid HCl) is applied to the skin; after a few hours, the skin is exposed to light that activates the chemical to destroy the actinic keratosis (AK). Localized red areas, which fade after several days, develop in treated regions. Because ALA™ makes the treated areas more sensitive to light, it is important that you avoid the sun for 36 hours after laser treatment. Stay out of the sunlight or bright indoor light, and wear light-protecting clothing.
Most patients report a stinging or burning sensation during the activation process. This usually improves immediately after treatment has ended. Post-treatment, patients report symptoms of reddening, swelling, and exfoliation of the treated areas.
To achieve maximum improvement of pre-cancerous sun damaged skin, a series of 2 to 3 treatments 2 to 4 weeks apart is most effective. After a series of treatments have been completed, treatments can be done at periodic intervals in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of the skin.