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Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a multi-use light activated system for destroying abnormal cells and affecting the function of overactive sebaceous glands which are a root cause of acne.
PDT works through a two-step process. First, a topical solution called Levulan is applied to the area to be treated. Then once this solution has been absorbed by “target cells” (these are the abnormal cells such as acne) a medical light is used to turn on the Levulan action. This action destroys the acne cells and shrinks and disables the sebaceous gland which produces excess skin oils. The final result is clearer skin, reduced oil production and more refined pores.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment modality that uses a photosensitizing drug called Levulan. Which when applied to the skin and exposed to an IPL or BLU-U light source, selectively removes damaged skin cells. In dermatology, PDT has been successful in treating resistant and cystic acne when normal treatments have failed.
The skin in the area to be treated is cleansed and prepped with a microdermabrasion treatment or an acetone scrub. The Levulan is applied and incubated for 30 to 120 minutes. The time is determined by the local area to be treated, skin type and severity of acne.
The Levulan stings when applied but quickly subsides. When the light is turned on, you may experience varying levels of stinging or burning which may be somewhat intense for a few moments. Most patients gladly deal with the temporary discomfort in exchange for clearer skin. Because your skin will be hypersensitive following treatment you will be instructed to remain totally out of the sun for the first 48 hours to prevent reactivation of the Levulan and sun-induced overreaction. You will experience a sunburn effect the first 2 days following application. Beginning day 3 your skin may feel tight and begin to peel. There is redness following treatment which is all part of the process.
This will be very dependent upon your individual acne levels and skin type. It is recommended that you receive 1 to 3 treatments with the Levulan at 2 to 4 week intervals. Your treatment schedule will be discussed with you. Often patients with acne observe excellent response after even one treatment.
PDT comes to the rescue when many other treatments have failed or have not offered substantial improvement. The therapy may be used in conjunction with RX medication but does not depend on these to get the job done. PDT kills the acne bacteria, as well as reduces the size and activity of the sebaceous glands that are a main factor in acne. PDT helps restore the skin’s integrity resulting in the overall improvement of the acne condition.
Other uses for PDT: Rosacea, Actinic Keratosis, Overall Skin Rejuvenation and Pore Reduction, Precancers and some early skin cancers. Read about PhotoDynamic Therapy for Skin Rejuvenation and Actinic Keratosis (link to Photodynamic Therapy for Skin Rejuvenation)