Focus on Aesthetics, This Month’s Feature Photodynamic Therapy
David T. Harvey, MD Mohs Surgeon & Cosmetic Dermatologist
PDT an advanced treatment of the skin that can treat a variety of skin blemishes, skin precancers (AKs) and acne lesions. Laser or light energy is combined with a chemical called aminolevulenic acid (“ALA”) to reduce the skin flaws noted above. PDT has minimal downtime but patient must stay out of the sun for at least 48 to 72 hours.
PDT (BLU U™ LIGHT THERAPY) FOR ACNE
Patients with acne may opt to have Blu U™ light treatments to improve their complexion. Acne lesions are shown to clear much faster with this therapy and systemic side effects are minimized. A total of up to 10 sessions (with or without microdermabrasion) may be needed to see a response. Patients experience no downtime with this procedure. Results may last up to 6 months and repeat treatments are performed when new acne lesionsbegin to appear. Blue light therapy is a safe alternative for those patients who are considering pregnancy or would like to shy away from antibiotic usage. Please note that up to 10% of patients do not respond to this form of treatment.
PDT (ALA-BLU U™ LIGHT THERAPY) FOR ACTINIC KERATOSIS
Patients with actinic keratosis over the face or scalp respond nicely to this procedure. We will usually treat a particular sun damaged area of the skin by incubating the ALA (aminolevulinic acid) for one to two hours. First, an acetone scrub or microdermabrasion is performed. ALA is then applied for a designated period of time and the treated area is exposed to blue light for about 16 minutes. Burning and stinging can ensue with light exposure. There is a short period of peeling which can last up to a week. One treatment reduces precancerous AKs by 75%. A second procedure can be performed eight weeks after the first. This increases the effectiveness to about 90% over baseline. We often will perform this procedure after Mohs surgery or liquid nitrogen to treat the thicker AKs.
PDT FOR SUN DAMAGED SKIN
PDT is also a wonderful technique for the changes associated with aging. Skin wrinkles, age spots, blood vessels and other skin growths can be improved with this treatment. Sessions are carried out every three to four weeks. A total of 5 sessions may be needed to see a fifty to eighty percent improvement in skin quality and tone. Treatments are performed every 4 to 6 weeks.