What Is Photodynamic Therapy and What Is It Used For?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is used by dermatologists to treat medical conditions and skin concerns such as actinic keratoses, acne, and inflammatory skin conditions. This treatment has highly therapeutic qualities and minimal side effects, making it an excellent choice for treating mild to serious skin concerns. Here are some of the main uses for PDT and how this treatment could improve your skin health.

About Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a light-based dermatology treatment that uses a photosensitizing drug and an activating light source to treat the skin. The photosensitizing drug is applied to the skin and then exposed to a specific wavelength of light, which causes it to activate and destroy nearby damaged or abnormal cells. This leaves healthy skin cells unharmed while still providing benefits for skin health and rejuvenation. PDT can treat mild to serious skin conditions and can help you achieve healthier and more evenly toned skin.

Uses for Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy is used to treat the following skin conditions:

  • Actinic Keratoses (AKs): AKs are pre-cancerous skin lesions. PDT can help reduce or remove these lesions, reducing the risk of skin cancer.
  • Rosacea and Inflammatory Conditions: Rosacea and related inflammatory conditions can cause redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels to appear on the face. PDT can help calm the skin and reduce symptoms associated with rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Acne: PDT is an effective treatment for acne, particularly in severe cases that don’t respond to other treatments. Treatment can help reduce bacteria and inflammation while promoting healing in affected areas of skin.
  • Enlarged Pores: PDT can reduce the appearance of enlarged pores and improve the overall clarity and texture of the skin.
  • Textural Irregularities: PDT can smooth and soften the skin by repairing sun-damaged tissue, correcting fine lines and wrinkles, and promoting collagen production.
  • Scars: PDT can minimize the appearance of acne scars and other scars by destroying the scar tissue so that the skin can generate new, healthy tissue in its place.

Getting Photodynamic Therapy Treatments

When getting photodynamic therapy treatments, a topical photosensitizing drug will be applied to the skin and left to incubate for up to several days (incubation length varies according to the patient’s needs). Next, a light source will be used to transmit a specific wavelength of light to activate the drug. Activating the drug will cause a sensation of tingling, warmth, heat, or burning in the affected area as the drug treats the skin. Afterward, the area will be washed clean, and the patient may return home. Side effects are usually mild; most patients need only a brief 1- to 2-day recovery period before returning to work. Up to 5 treatment sessions spaced several weeks apart may be recommended, and maintenance treatments may be offered afterward to maintain results.

For more information about photodynamic therapy, or to schedule your first treatment session, call Medovate Dermatology at 847.499.5500.