Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a popular dermatological treatment that involves the use of a photosensitizing agent and a special type of light to target and destroy abnormal cells in the skin. This treatment has been used for a variety of skin conditions, including actinic keratosis and facial rejuvenation. At Pure Dermatology in Southwest Austin, Texas, Dr. Christopher Chu MD, FAAD and Chelsey Straight MD, FAAD are experienced with using photodynamic therapy to provide convenient treatment for your actinic keratoses.
Photodynamic therapy involves the application of a photosensitizing agent to the skin. This agent is then activated by a special type of light, which causes it to produce a form of oxygen that destroys abnormal cells in the skin. This treatment is minimally invasive and can be done in an outpatient setting.
Photodynamic therapy is commonly used to treat actinic keratosis, a common precancerous skin lesion that appears as rough, scaly patches on sun-exposed areas of the skin. PDT is less often used for facial rejuvenation, as it can help improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.
Before undergoing photodynamic therapy, your dermatologist will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare. The day of the procedure, your board-certified dermatologist will apply the sensitizing agent to the areas being treated. You will then be asked to wait a number of hours to allow the medication to penetrate. During this time, you may run errands, or read a book. After the medication has penetrated the skin, a special light is used for approximately 15-20 minutes to activate the medication
While the application of the photosensitizing agent itself is painless, most patients experience a light tingling or burning sensation during the illumination part of the photodynamic therapy procedure.
After photodynamic therapy, you may experience redness, swelling, and peeling of the skin. These symptoms typically subside within a few days to a week. It's important to avoid sun exposure for at least 48 hours after the procedure, as your skin will be more sensitive to UV radiation.
Overall, photodynamic therapy is a highly effective treatment for actinic keratosis and other skin conditions. If you're considering photodynamic therapy for your precancers, it's important to talk to a qualified dermatologist who can assess your individual needs and provide you with the best possible treatment options. While photodynamic therapy may cause some mild discomfort and require a brief recovery period, the results can be well worth it, leaving you with healthier skin.