What is Photodynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic Therapy or PDT is a medical treatment in which a patient is treated with a product that is absorbed by a certain target (in this case sundamaged skin). The product that is administered increases the sensitivity of the target to light (photosensitivity). Selective treatment with a light source then causes destruction of the target cells.
How does PDT treat sundamaged skin
A topical agent called ALA (Aminolevulenic acid) is applied to the skin and it is preferentially absorbed by the sundamaged skin cells making them very sensitive to light. A light source is then applied to the skin.
What light source is used?
At the Cosmetic and Laser Medical Centre we have a number of protocols to treat sun damaged skin depending on the individual skin type, degree of sun damage and any skin associated problems such as pigmentation or broken capillaries. Importantly treatment is able to be tailored to individual needs and requirements. In some patients we will use blue wavelength light (410nm), in some we will use an infrared laser (595nm), in others we will use a broad band of light with an IPL whilst in some patients we will use a combination of light sources.
Who can have PDT?
PDT can be used in all skin types and age groups. PDT can be used on all parts of the body, but the face is the commonest site.
Even though there is no evidence of complications we will not perform this treatment if you are pregnant or breast feeding. You will also not be able to have PDT treatment if you have the rare condition of porphyria, have taken Roaccutane medication in the previous 6 months, have a history of keloid scarring or photosensitivity.
How many treatments?
PDT sun damage treatments typically consist of one initial treatment and then follow up depending on the degree of sun damage. Some experts in the USA recommend yearly PDT for people over the age of 40 with significant sun damaged skin.
Are there side effects?
Following PDT the skin will appear red like sunburn and will be very sensitive to light for 36 to 48 hours. Areas of solar keratosis may react more and have some crusting. There is often some superficial peeling in the first week after treatment.
What are the advantages?
PDT can treat sun damaged areas of skin that are yet to develop into solar keratosis or skin cancers. The procedure involves minimal discomfort and the majority of patients are delighted with the outcome.
Can PDT treat other conditions?
PDT can also be used to treat other skin conditions such as acne.