Photodynamic light therapy (PDT) is a treatment for skin lesions, especially for pre-skin cancer, sun damage and acne. It can help clear actinic keratosis, which is a premalignant growth that occurs on the areas of the skin that receive a lot of exposure to direct sunlight. This is usually the hands, arms, chest and face. PDT is also effective in clearing moderate to severe acne.
During a treatment of photodynamic light therapy, our specialist will apply a photosensitizing agent to the lesions. It may take some time for the lesion(s) to absorb the solution. Once the solution is absorbed, a light is applied to the area being treated. The solution only starts working when the light is applied. It causes the solution to react with oxygen, which transforms into another chemical that affects the cells.
During a consultation with our expert, your lesions will be diagnosed and a treatment prescribed. The amount of time between when the solution is applied and when the light is applied is called the drug-to-light interval. Depending on the drug that is used, the interval may be two to three hours to two to three days.
Topical chemotherapy was considered one of the best treatments for skin lesions in the past; however, today, photodynamic light therapy is more often the treatment of choice. This is because topical chemotherapy leaves crusty wounds that are unsightly and may last from several weeks to more than a month. Photodynamic light therapy has less downtime after treatment and is just as effective.
For certain kinds of skin lesions, pre-skin cancer and skin cancer, photodynamic light therapy has been shown, through studies, to work as well as radiation therapy and surgery. Some of the benefits of PDT are:
• No long-term side effects when it is used properly
• Unlike surgery, it is non-invasive
• Usually done as an outpatient treatment
• Can target lesions very precisely
• Unlike radiation, it can be repeated many times, even at the same site
• Little or no scarring
Before a treatment, your skin will be thoroughly cleaned. This will help increase the penetration of the special solution. The specific solution being used for the treatment will be applied. It may take from 30 minutes to three hours for the solution to be absorbed by the lesions. The amount of time depends on your condition and the type of light used. After treatment, your skin will be very light-sensitive for at least 48 hours until the solution is completely absorbed by your body. Special precautions against sunlight must be taken during this time.
Photodynamic light therapy is considered a safe and effective treatment for skin lesions, such as acne, pre-skin cancer and, in some cases, even cancer. During a consultation with our experts at Dermatology Associates, you can learn about your treatment options. We have offices conveniently located in Norwood, Foxboro and Franklin. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.