Photodynamic Therapy


What is photodynamic therapy?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that utilizes a naturally occurring substance in our bodies, called porphyrin, and an external source of blue light to destroy pre-cancerous cell growths, called actinic keratoses (AKs) , bacteria, and oil glands.

Why use photodynamic therapy?

PDT is an FDA-approved treatment for patients who have multiple AKs. It can be used to treat the face, scalp and arms. Unlike other treatment options, it has minimal downtime. There is also clinical evidence that PDT is an effective means to prevent skin cancer. PDT, as an AK treatment, is typically covered by insurance.

PDT is also beneficial for patients who have moderately-inflamed acne and wish to avoid antibiotics. When the skin is exposed to blue light, the light shrinks the oil glands and kills bacteria in the hair follicle . PDT, as an acne treatment, is not covered by insurance.

How is photodynamic therapy performed at DTLA Derm?

When treating AKs, we first apply the topical porphyrin to the affected area. You then wait in our office for an appropriate amount of time to allow the porphyrin to be absorbed by your skin. Once this incubation period has concluded, we expose the treated area to blue light for approximately 15 minutes. During this stage of treatment, you may feel a stinging sensation. This sensation quickly subsides once the skin is no longer exposed to the blue light. We use cooling fans to minimize discomfort. After treatment, we recommend that you avoid light, including visible light, for at least 48 hours and use mineral-based sunscreens—even if you do not plan on leaving your home.

When treating acne, we simply expose the affected area to blue light for approximately 15 minutes. Since we do not use a porphyrin to treat acne, you should not experience a stinging sensation or any other discomfort.

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