PDT is a procedure in which a chemical called Levulan is applied to a treatment area to sensitize it to light. A blue light is applied to the treatment site to activate the chemical to target abnormal areas of skin. PDT is FDA approved to treat actinic keratosis, which are precancerous cells. PDT is also used to treat sun damage and hidradenitis suppurativa.
The treatment area will be cleansed typically with alcohol or acetone. Typical treatment zones are the face, chest, arms and hands. The chemical will be applied to the entire treatment area and allowed to incubate for a period of 60-120 minutes. Bring something to read or occupy yourself with because you will have to stay in the office during this period.
After the incubation period, the treatment zone will be illuminated with a blue light for 16 minutes. During this period, you may feel some heat or discomfort. Then sunscreen will be applied and you will go home.
For 48 hours post treatment, patients are told to avoid direct sunlight and to wear sunscreen and hats to avoid more sun exposure. There will be a period of redness and peeling for approximately 5-7 days post treatment. During this period the sun damage and actinic keratosis typically peel off the skin, leaving healthier, smoother skin behind.
Typically patients can have some discomfort, redness, and peeling for up to one week post treatment. Patients who have more severe sun damage tend to have more severe reactions. However, all patients go on to have great results once they recover and there are no long term side effects from this treatment.
Typically insurances cover the procedure when it is indicated medically, though a prior authorization may or may not be needed. Schedule a visit with one of our providers and we can assess your skin and see if you are a candidate for PDT.
Spectrum Dermatology provides expertise, knowledge and passion to medical, surgical and laser dermatology. Our experience and reputation make Spectrum Dermatology one of the most sought-after dermatologist in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area. For more information or to set up an appointment please contact us at (480) 948-8400.