Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a three-step treatment used for mild or serious conditions of the skin. Through the use of a photosensitizing drug and a light source to activate it, PDT destroys abnormal cells that cause actinic keratosis, a pre-cancerous condition.


How it Works

During the PDT procedure, a topical photo sensitizer called Levulan is applied to the skin and left for an incubation period of several minutes to several days. Levulan is made of aminolevulinic acid (ALA), a natural substance found in the body. After incubation, the Levulan is activated with a wavelength light source.


What to Expect During PDT Treatment

Patients may experience sensations of warmth, tingling, heat or burning during this part of the treatment. After light activation, the treated area is washed and patients can return home, and most return to work within one to two days of the procedure. Rarely, patients may experience a slightly prolonged healing course but typically less than 7-10 days. You may also have individual personal concerns about what this treatment involves and what it may mean for any other number of health issues you may have. Though generally considered a non-invasive treatment option, if you have these types of concerns about photodynamic therapy, this is one of the reasons why you’ll have the opportunity to talk with a dermatologist before, during, and after the procedure.


Photodynamic Therapy Side Effects

For optimal results, patients may need up to five treatment sessions, depending on the severity of their condition and the aggressiveness of their treatment. Sessions are spaced two to five weeks apart and can be continued afterwards to help maintain the initial results of the treatment.

Although PDT is considered a safe treatment option, there are certain risks and side effects associated with any medical procedure. Some of these risks and side effects may include redness, pigmentation, bruising, infection and scarring. These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own within a few weeks.


Why PDT Treatment is Becoming More Common

While photodynamic therapy has been around in one form or another for about a century, it’s only in the last few decades that the research and technology have allowed for the rigorous application of treatment protocols. But this isn’t the only reason why PDT treatment has become more popular in recent years. With better and earlier detection of many different skin conditions, this type of non-invasive and early-intervention treatment is the best available option for an increasing number of patients.

Many people in southern Illinois can benefit from this treatment as a way to remove troubling pre-cancerous growths and other skin conditions that can be dealt with through localized treatment.

Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our board certified medical dermatologists to learn more about photodynamic therapy and/or to start a course of PDT treatment.