Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) Toronto
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Photodynamic therapy is a non-invasive light-based treatment which can be used to treat precancerous skin lesions known as actinic keratoses. It is also an effective acne treatment.
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What is Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a medical procedure that involves the use of a topical photosensitizing drug and broadband light to target precancerous skin cells or acne lesions.
Because the skin becomes more responsive to the focused light energy, PDT is able to selectively treat these complexion issues.
Who is Photodynamic Therapy For?
In general, PDT is suitable for the following patients:
- Patients with many actinic keratoses where treatment of a large area is required.
- Patients with actinic keratoses who prefer an in-office treatment over applying creams at home for many weeks.
- Patients with actinic keratoses who also want to improve the appearance of their skin.
- Patients with moderate acne who are not able to tolerate oral medication or want to avoid Accutane or oral antibiotics.
- Patients who understand that they'll need to avoid sun exposure following their PDT treatment.
Photodynamic therapy is not suitable for patients who have medical conditions which require avoidance of sun exposure (such as lupus) or for patients taking medications which make them more sensitive to the sun (including Accutane, tetracyclines, ciprofloxacin, hydrochlorothiazide).
How Does Photodynamic Therapy Work?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a photosensitizing agent known as aminolevulinic acid, or Levulan, in combination with broadband light (BBL), to treat actinic keratoses or acne. The Levulan is applied to the skin and preferentially absorbed by precancerous cells and oil glands.
Precancerous skin cells are targeted in the treatment of actinic keratoses. Oil glands and the bacteria that cause acne, Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes), are targeted when treating acne.
Patients typically undergo 2-6 treatments, each scheduled 2-4 weeks apart, to achieve desired results
Our Comprehensive Approach to Photodynamic Therapy
Photodynamic therapy involves three steps: a topical solution of aminolevulanic acid (ALA), also known as Levulan, is applied to the area to be treated. The solution is left on the skin for 30-60 minutes to incubate, and then laser light is applied to the skin to activate the Levulan.
Most patients experience a sensation of warmth and a stinging sensation as the laser light passes over the skin. Topical anesthetic can be applied before the treatment to decrease discomfort.
Treated skin will be extremely sensitive to light for up to 48 hours afterward. It is crucial that you stay indoors and avoid sun exposure during this time while the photosensitizer is metabolized and eliminated from your skin.
Common side effects include redness, swelling, mild crusting and peeling, and sensitivity. This typically occurs for 2-3 days. For more intense treatments, side effects can last up to one week.
You'll see a gradual improvement in your complexion over the weeks and months following your treatment.
Photodynamic Therapy FAQ
Photodynamic therapy is able to treat precancerous skin lesions caused by sun exposure (actinic keratoses). It is also able to treat acne.
When performed under the supervision of an experienced board-certified dermatologist, photodynamic therapy is safe. PDT has been used to treat actinic keratoses and acne for many years.
Most patients find PDT treatments to be comfortable. You may feel a slight stinging sensation and topical anaesthetic may be applied to improve comfort.
After the treatment, some excessive warmth and sensitivity may be felt in the targeted area. These are temporary.
Photodynamic therapy targets precancerous skin growths known as actinic keratoses (AK). Eliminating actinic keratoses from your skin reduces the risk of progression of these lesions to skin cancer.
The use of makeup should be avoided until the skin heals. This typically occurs in 2-4 days.
You can wash your face after a photodynamic therapy treatment. To help with your recovery, use a cleanser that has been recommended by your dermatologist. It should be gentle enough that it doesn't compromise your skin health.
Treated skin will be extremely sensitive to light for up to 48 hours afterward. It is crucial that you stay indoors and avoid sunlight until the photosensitizer is metabolized and eliminated from your skin.
Common side effects include redness, mild peeling and sensitivity. This typically occurs for 2-3 days, after which they will disappear. For more intense treatments, side effects can last longer.
You'll be able to see a gradual improvement in your complexion over the weeks and months following your treatment.
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