Photodynamic Therapy, or PDT, brings together a drug activated by light and a special source of light. It can be used to treat various skin conditions, however it is most often used during treatment for acne and actinic keratoses, which are pre-skin cancers.
It uses Aminolevulinic acid, which is commonly called Levulan. The drug is applied to the skin and remains there for a period ranging from 30 to 120 minutes. Some cells, such as those responsible for acne and pre-cancerous cells are sensitive to this drug and will absorb it. Following the application and absorption of the drug, a light, which could be a laser, red light or blue light, is applied to the area undergoing treatment. This helps the Levulan destroy the affected cells while leaving healthy cells intact.
Dr. Bobby Buka from New York City has reviewed the findings of numerous clinical studies about the use of PDT in patients affected by acne. These clinical studies have demonstrated that PDT is both effective and very safe.
In typical cases, there will be between two and five treatments done a few weeks apart. The actual number of treatments will depend on how severe your acne is. In the majority of cases, patients have reported that their acne lesions have diminished by a considerable amount (50 to 75 percent) after undergoing a couple of treatments. However, results will vary and not everyone will show significant improvements.
PDT can be used to treat actinic keratoses, or pre-skin cancers. These are rough patches of skin that are red and scaly in appearance. While there are numerous ways to treat them, such as using liquid nitrogen or applying a topical chemotherapy cream, PDT has many advantages over the other methods. It is relatively painless and works faster. Plus, the treatment will only need to be done once or twice.