Anti-aging Treatment: Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Recently, photodynamic therapy (PDT) has emerged as an effective treatment to significantly reduce acne lesions on the skin. In the PDT procedure, specific wavelengths of light are used to target and kill the bacteria responsible for acne outbreaks. A typical facial skin care treatment with PDT begins with a light microdermabrasion treatment to remove any dead skin cells. Next, an aminolevulinic acid solution is applied to the skin to enhance the effectiveness of the laser or other light source. Then the targeted skin is exposed to specific wavelengths of light, which penetrate the skin and kill the acne-causing bacteria.
Developed and first used in 1905 for the treatment of skin cancer, photodynamic therapy is now used to treat several common skin conditions. PDT combines a light source – blue light, red light, or intense pulsed light (IPL) – with the use of a topical photosensitizing solution to target specific cells in the body.
Photodynamic therapy is a two-step process involving the application of Levulan Kerastick photosensitizing solution to the treatment area, followed by exposure to a light source, such as the ClearLight system. Levulan is used in photodynamic therapy to make the skin more sensitive to light, and is made from aminolevulinic acid, or ALA, a naturally occurring substance in the body. Prior to light exposure, the solution is allowed to penetrate the skin from 15 minutes to 18 hours, depending on the condition being treated.
Typically, the solution is applied during one appointment, and patients return the following day for light therapy. However, Levulan acne treatment is usually done in one appointment in which the solution is left on the skin for 15 to 60 minutes, followed by 8 to 10 minutes of light exposure. Because Levulan makes your skin extremely sensitive to light, it is important to avoid exposure to sunlight and bright indoor lighting while the solution is on your skin and for at least 48 hours after treatment. Sunscreens do not protect the skin from overexposure after treatment with Levulan.
The price of photodynamic therapy depends on many factors, including the type and severity of the condition that is treated, and the area of the country in which the procedure is performed. Comprehensive treatment packages may cost between $2,000 and $3,500 for a series of treatments. Be sure to ask your doctor or technician if check-up appointments and post-therapy care products are included in the treatment price.