Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a special procedure that combines a light-sensitive drug with a laser to effectively remove abnormal or precancerous cells on the skin. The medication used is a photosensitizing agent, called levulinic acid. This medication is applied to the area that is being treated and it is preferentially absorbed by the “bad” cells or the metabolically active cells. The precancers cells are more active than normal, healthy cells so they absorb the Levulan and become more photo-sensitive.
The first step to this procedure is to apply the Levulan product on the area being treated. This medication is allowed to incubate on the tissue for 3-5 hours (depending on skin location) and it is absorbed by the problematic cells – not normal, healthy cells. The second part of the procedure involves shining a light or laser or both on the area being treated.
This light/laser energy causes the levulan medication to react and form a special kind of oxygen molecule that destroys the cells. So in effect , you target the abnormal cells and induce cell death (apoptosis) so they do not have the chance to evolve to a true skin cancer cell. PDT can also destroy blood vessels that provide sustenance for cancerous cells.
One of the great things people don’t understand about PDT is that it treats a broad area, unlike liquid nitrogen, so you can treat an entire face or arm so even the invisible, microscopic cell damage is treated.
You may be a candidate for PDT if your doctor suspects that you may have precancerous lesions on the skin such as actinic keratosis or actinic damage (cellular sun damage).
Common forms of non-melanoma skin cancer, such as superficial basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell in situ, such as Bowen’s disease, can be treated with photodynamic therapy. However, deeper, nodular skin tumors may need surgery for complete resolution.
Once the photosensitizing agent has been applied to the skin or injected into the bloodstream, it takes roughly three to five hours before it can be activated with a laser or strong light to kill the abnormal cells. The procedure itself only takes around 20 minutes.
When performed correctly, PDT can safely remove abnormal cells in your skin or just beneath it. The procedure also resets the skin so you basically CLEAN UP sun damage and reverse the signs and cell damage which leads to skin cancer.
This is a non-invasive alternative to surgery and excellent for anyone who has actinic keratoses or has been frozen therapy before with liquid nitrogen.
PDT treats a broad area, unlike liquid nitrogen, so you can treat an entire face or arm so even the invisible, microscopic cell damage is treated.
PDT treatment causes a sunburn reaction to the skin. This is desirable because this is how your body is eliminating the cell damage in the skin. This sunburn look and peeling lasts about 4-7 days depending on the area treated.
You’ll be expected to protect the treated area for around 48 hours to prevent further UV exposure. You’ll likely develop a scab at the area being treated, but you’ll be instructed on how to take care and dress it. While you can return to your daily life within just 48 hours, the scab will likely take around two to three weeks to fully recover.
After around four weeks, you may be required to attend follow-up appointments. This is more common if the cancerous cells are deep, requiring multiple procedures to fully remove them from your body.
*Individual results may vary.
*Individual Results May Vary