Photodynamic therapy, which is also known as PDT or blue light therapy, is a treatment used for a number of conditions including several types of cancer. It is also used to treat many skin problems including rosacea, psoriasis, wrinkles, and acne. An early form of Photodynamic Therapy was developed in the early 1900s.
In Photodynamic Therapy, the patient is given a chemical that increases the skin’s sensitivity to light. The chemical can be administered intravenously, or it can be applied directly to the patient’s skin. In the latter case, the medication will be a cream or liquid. There is then an incubation period of hours or days, during which the medicine works its way into the targeted area. During the final stage of the treatment, the treatment area is exposed to a specific wavelength of light that triggers the medication, which then destroys the abnormal tissue.
Photodynamic Therapy can be performed right in our medical spa by one of our experienced medical team members. The patient will usually need to undergo two or three treatments to get the desired results.
How long does the light sensitivity last?
Photodynamic Therapy does not cause permanent sensitivity to light; the effects are temporary and do wear off. Depending on the drug and type of light used, the patient will have to avoid sunlight and some other indoor lights for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after the treatment. The patient may also need to wear long sleeves and dark glasses during this time. We will provide each patient with all of the necessary recovery instructions to ensure safe healing.
Who should not undergo Photodynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic Therapy seems to work best for people with fair skin. Persons with dark skin that discolors after a light or laser treatment should not undergo Photodynamic Therapy. People who burn very easily or are already sensitive to light should not have Photodynamic Therapy performed. People who work outside or otherwise would not be able to stay out of the sunlight for the required time should also avoid Photodynamic Therapy.
Patients who take medications that increase sensitivity to light should not undergo Photodynamic Therapy. Some diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus, increase the patient’s sensitivity to light or burning. Patients with drug allergies may not be able to use some the medications available and should advise their doctor about the allergy.
Are there any side effects or complications?
The most common side effect caused by Photodynamic Therapy is reddened and irritated skin similar to that seen in a sunburn. Given what Photodynamic Therapy involves, most people expect this. Photodynamic Therapy can also cause skin discoloration, increased prominence of small blood vessels, blisters, pain, infection, swelling of the eyes, allergic reactions, scabs, scarring and prolonged sensitivity to sunlight.
Schedule Your Consultation
If you’re interested in treating your acne with Photodynamic Therapy, we’ll work with you to determine if you are a good candidate for treatment. We offer different treatments, and we’ll create a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. Contact Mariposa MedSpa today to schedule your consultation.