Dermatology Photo
Conditions And Treatments
A-CD-OP-ST-Z

PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY



Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a procedure that uses a photosensitizing drug to apply light therapy selectively to target pre-skin cancers, acne and sun damage.

What is photodynamic therapy used to treat?

PDT can help clear the skin of actinic keratoses which are premalignant growths in sun-exposed areas, mainly the face, chest, arms and hands. It is also effective for moderate-severe acne. A series of treatments can put acne into remission for months as well as reversing some scarring without taking oral medications. When used on sun damaged skin the results achieved are better and faster than when using the light alone.

What would I expect at a photodynamic therapy treatment?

The skin will be cleansed thoroughly. Then an acetone scrub would be done to degrease the skin in order to increase and assure even penetration of the acid. The aminolevulinic acid, a clear liquid, will be applied to the entire surface of the skin that is to be treated. This will incubate, or be absorbed, for 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on your condition and the light used. The doctor will then use a machine called an intensed pulsed light to treat the face.
After the treatment the skin involved will be extremely light sensitive for 48 hours until the medication is completely metabolized. Hats and thick sun block with zinc oxide and light avoidance are required to protect the skin during that time. Most of the time, some redness and mild peeling occur over the first 2-3 days. Occasionally, there can be some swelling for 24 hours and mild peeling and/or redness for up to 5 days.

Are there side effects?

The most common after effect is redness which usually abates after 24 to 48 hours. Peeling may also occur but is usually mild. Depending on the severity of the patients existing skin damage prior to treatment and the intensity of the treatment itself, these side effects will vary. This should be discussed with your doctor prior to treatment.
If you do not wear adequate sun protection on the area treated for no less tan 48 hours after treatment, the ultraviolet rays of the sun will continue to treat you like a laser light. This will lead to severe redness, peeling and potential rawness and later scabbing of the skin. Sun protection is the most important thing that a patient can do to minimize potential side effects. Remember rays come through window glass so sunscreen needs to be worn even when indoors or in your car after a treatment.

Do I need a consult before scheduling a photodynamic therapy treatment?

Yes. The doctor will need to evaluate your skin and determine if photodynamic therapy is the right treatment choice for you. Risks and benefits will be discussed and you will have an opportunity to ask questions about the treatment.

How do I schedule a consult?

To schedule a consultation with Dr Robyn Gmyrek or Dr Julide Celebi at the Aesthetic Skin and Laser Center, please call (212)326-8889.

  • Website design by the: Web Design Studio
  • ©2009. Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Dermatology, New York, NY.