We're Now California Skin Institute Sunnyvale!
 

photodynamic therapy

Sunnyvale Dermatology

603 S. Knickerbocker Dr.

Sunnyvale,  CA   94087

(408) 736-0441

Diseases and Surgery of the Skin

Cosmetic Dermatology

Dr. Bernard Recht

 

Please call us for a free consultation visit

408-736-0441

WHAT IS PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY?


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a special treatment performed with a topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan (5-aminolevulinic acid or ALA) activated with the correct wavelength of light.  This is also known as “ALA/PDT treatment”.  These treatments remove sun damaged pre-cancerous zones and spots called actinic keratoses. Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation are also improved because of the positive effect of Levulan and the light treatment.  ALA/PDT treatment also has the unique ability to minimize pores and reduce oil glands, effectively treating stubborn acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, and improve the appearance of some acne scars.



HOW MUCH IMPROVEMENT CAN I EXPECT?


Patients with severe sun damaged skin manifested by actinic keratoses (pre-cancerous rough growths on the skin), texture, and tone changes including mottled pigmentation and skin laxity may see excellent results.  You may also see improvement of large pores and pitted acne scars. Active acne can improve dramatically.



HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL IT TAKE TO SEE THE “BEST RESULTS”?


To achieve maximum improvement of pre-cancerous (actinic keratoses) sun damage, skin tone and texture, a series of three treatments 2-4 weeks apart is the most effective treatment.  Some patients with only actinic keratoses are happy with just one treatment.  More treatments can be done at periodic intervals in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of the skin.



WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES?


Following PDT, the treated areas can appear red with some peeling for 2-7 days. Some patients have an exuberant response to PDT, and experience marked redness of their skin. Temporary swelling of the lips and around your eyes can occur for a few days. Darker pigmented patches called liver spots can become temporarily darker and then peel off leaving normal skin.  (This usually occurs over seven to ten days.) Repeat treatments may be necessary as PDT medicine is not an exact science. There also may be some tingling or burning during the procedure.



WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?


1. Easier for patients than repeated topical liquid nitrogen, Efudex (5FU), or Aldara . The side effects are minimal, there is rapid healing, and only 1-3 treatments required. The procedure is done in the office so there is no need for the patient to apply or purchase a medication.


2. The ALA/PDT treatment done in our office is relatively painless verses liquid nitrogen, 5-FU, and Aldara, which can be quite irritating.


3. Reduced scarring and improved cosmetic outcome compared with cautery, surgery and Efudex. Liquid nitrogen can leave white spots on your skin.


4. Levulan improves the whole facial area treated creating all one color, texture, and tone rather than just spot treating with liquid nitrogen, cautery and surgery.





In Summary:


PDT matches the “Ideal Treatment” for photodamaged skin because it is:


    -  well tolerated (essentially painless)

    -  easily performed by in our dermatology office

    -  no medications to buy

    -  non-invasive (no needles or surgery required)

    -  excellent cosmetic outcome (particularly in cosmetic sensitive

    areas of the face)