Many treatments are available to restore damaged skin, but sometimes a robust solution is needed, such as when a patient has skin cancer, severe acne scarring, or other hard-to-treat skin conditions such as rosacea. If you have one of these skin issues, we encourage you to talk with Dr. Christine Lee at The Skin and Laser Treatment Institute in Walnut Creek, CA about whether photodynamic therapy (PDT) might be a good option for you.
What is photodynamic therapy?
Photodynamic therapy uses the energy from light to specifically target damaged or cancerous areas of skin. A wand that emits light of a specific wavelength is used in combination with a photosensitizing agent, which is a chemical that makes your skin cells or glands more susceptible to the light energy that is being used. The combination of the photosensitizing agent and a specific wavelength of light is then used to kill cancer cells or act against other inflammatory skin conditions or skin damage.
Photodynamic therapy can be used as:
- Cancer treatment
- Treatment for sun-damaged skin
- Therapy for rosacea
- Acne treatment
- Treatment for actinic keratosis
What happens during the procedure?
About one to two hours before the procedure, the area of your skin being treated will first be coated with a photosensitizing solution. It then needs to soak into your skin over the next hour or two so that the light rays will be as effective as possible. Then, a highly trained professional will wave a wand over the treatment area that either emits light or a laser. A cooling gel may be used in conjunction with a laser for your comfort.
After the light treatment is complete, sunscreen will be applied to your face. It is important to avoid sun for the following 48 hours because the PDT procedure will make your skin very sensitive to the sun’s UV rays.
Costs and recovery
After your PDT treatment, you will likely experience some redness and/or scaliness on your skin, similar to a sunburn. This may last for up to a week, but the treatment has not been reported to cause long-term scarring.
The cost of PDT depends on how many treatment sessions you will need and whether it is being used to treat a medical condition such as skin cancer or actinic keratosis. If it is, your insurance may cover the cost in part or in full. If it is being used for cosmetic issues such as acne scarring, sun damage, or rosacea, insurance will not cover it.
If you are suffering from skin cancer lesions or other severe skin conditions, call Dr. Lee at (925) 528-0117 today to learn about how photodynamic therapy can restore your healthy skin!