Photodynamic Therapy FAQs
What is photodynamic therapy?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a medical treatment that utilizes a photosensitizing drug and a light source to activate the drug. A photosensitizing drug is one that becomes activated by exposure to certain types of light. PDT was first developed and used in the early 1900s, but continues to be an evolving and revolutionary medical technology. At the 5th Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank uses the photosensitive drug Levulan ALA and a laser to perform photodynamic laser treatments.
What conditions can photodynamic therapy treat?
PDT is an exciting and revolutionary treatment that can be used to treat a variety of conditions. In dermatological applications, it is used to treat acne, oily skin, enlarged pores, rosacea, skin cancers, wrinkles, sun damaged skin, warts, psoriasis, and other conditions. Photodynamic therapy has also been approved by the FDA for the treatment of certain types of cancer, including skin cancers and non-small cell cancers of the lungs and esophagus. Clinical studies are currently being performed to test the effectiveness of PDT on a wide variety of other conditions and cancers.
How are photodynamic treatments performed?
There are three main steps in a PDT treatment, regardless of the condition being treated: the application of the drug, an incubation period, and the light activation phase. When treating acne, Dr. Frank will apply Kerastick, the product that contains the photosensitive drug Levulan ALA, to the skin. The incubation period is about 1 hour long, during which the medicine will soak into the skin via the sebaceous pores. The light source application phase then takes about 10 minutes.
Is photodynamic therapy painful?
The application and incubation phases do not cause any discomfort or pain. The application of the light source may cause some pain, although it is not typically severe. Some patients report a mild stinging or burning sensation while the skin is exposed to the light source. The pain subsides immediately after the laser treatment phase is complete and patients rarely report any discomfort during the recovery period.
How long is the recovery period and what post-care instructions must be followed?
The recovery period for PDT is short and there are few post-care instructions to follow, making PDT a very easy process to undergo. Mild to moderate redness, akin to a mild sunburn, may persist on the skin for up to 2 days following the treatment. For the first 24 hours, patients must strictly avoid exposure to sunlight.
How many PDT treatments will be required?
The number of treatments required depends on the condition that is being treated and the individual’s skin type. For acne treatment, patients typically require two or three treatments, spaced at three week intervals, to see significant improvement in their condition.
How much improvement can I expect?
Each patient responds differently to PDT. Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank reports that many of his acne patients see about an 80% improvement in their condition, which can significantly alter their appearance and self confidence. After examining your skin, Dr. Frank will be able to determine if photodynamic therapy with Kerastick is a good option for you. During the treatment course, Dr. Frank will monitor your progress and alter the treatment plan as necessary to help you achieve the results you desire.
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is solely for educational purposes and is solely the opinion of Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, which may differ from other medical professionals.
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