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Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is an intensive treatment that utilizes the application of Levulan solution to the skin prior to laser or light activation. PDT allows us to aggressively treat sun damage, including pre-cancerous lesions called actinic keratoses, and is also effective for acne. PDT inactivates the bacteria that triggers acne, exfoliates the skin to unclog pores, and shuts down the sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin that are the primary cause of acne.

What PDT Treats

  • Severe Sun Damage
  • Pre-cancerous Lesions
  • Acne

How It Works

Levulan Kerastick topical solution is 20% aminolevulinic acid, an acid that occurs naturally in your body and is a strong photosensitizing agent. Once applied to the skin, it is absorbed by skin cells, especially precancerous cells and sebaceous glands. When activated by a light source, such as IPL, V-beam, or blue light, highly charged oxygen free radicals are formed, causing destruction of the brown spots, broken capillaries, precancerous lesions, and acne-causing sebaceous glands. Fine wrinkles are also improved. More Levulan can be applied to the problem areas to intensify the response. During your consultation, our providers will determine which laser or light source is optimal to activate the Levulan for your particular condition.

What Can I Expect?

At your consultation, our providers will determine if you are a good candidate for PDT. This procedure may not be suitable for patients with darker skin. It is extremely important that you are not tan (including artificial tans) prior to your procedure.

Your face will be thoroughly cleansed and Levulan Kerastick will be applied one hour before your procedure. Topical anesthesia may also be applied prior to the laser/light activation. IPL, V-beam, or blue light will then be used to activate the Levulan. You may experience stinging or burning lasting up to 24 hours after the treatment is completed. Because Levulan makes your skin very light sensitive, it is extremely important to avoid sunlight and other forms of bright light for at least 48 hours after treatment. Examples include exam room lights, operating room lamps, tanning bed lights, and household lights at close range. Sunscreens will not protect against photosensitivity reactions caused by visible light. Remember to wear light protective clothing, such as a broad-rimmed hat, during this time. A minimum of SPF 30 sunscreen is also required during the healing period.

You may experience redness, flaking, swelling, crusting, and itching after your treatment. This usually subsides in 1-2 weeks. Moisturizer with SPF 30 sunscreen is recommended during this time.

Generally, it takes 2-4 treatments approximately 1 month apart, depending on the nature of the condition and your response to PDT.

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Bellevue Laser & Cosmetic Center