What is photodynamic therapy?
therapy (PDT) was initially developed to treat cancer cells.
PDT combines a drug (called a photosensitizer) which is preferentially
absorbed by certain kinds of cells and a special light source.
When used together, the photosensitizer and the light destroy
the targeted cells. PDT has more recently been used for the
treatment of non-cancerous conditions such as acne and for facial
rejuvenation (see below). When used for these conditions, the
photosensitizer is applied to the face and then the skin is
exposed to a light source. Rapidly growing cells, oil glands,
and other structures in the skin absorb the photosensitizer
and are destroyed by a reaction caused by the light.
What is Photodynamic Therapy used for?
Facial PDT was initially developed for the treatment
of precancerous lesions, called actinic keratoses. More recently,
however, it has been used for photorejuvenation, wrinkles, discoloration
(age spots), visible veins, and acne.
How is PDT performed?
PDT is a new therapy and there are currently different
methods in use. For example, physicians may use blue light, red
light, or intense pulse light. The photosensitizer is applied to
the skin, and is left on for a variable period of time. The skin
is then exposed to the light source and the photosensitizer is then
removed. Reported side effects include transient burning, stinging,
swelling, and redness.
How long does PDT take?
The length of a photodynamic therapy session is quite variable,
depending on what is being treated. You should talk with your physician
about your specific needs.
What will my skin feel like after PDT?
For the most intense PDT therapy available, there
may be transient side effects such as burning, stinging, redness,
and swelling that can last up to one week. However, many of the
protocols in use are reportedly pain free with no recovery time.
How many PDT sessions will I need?
The number of photodynamic therapy treatments that have been used in clinical trials
has ranged from one to three (over a period of three months). However,
you and your physician will need to talk about your specific needs
in deciding how many treatments you will need.
How long do the results last?
There are no long term studies evaluating how
long the results last.
What are the risks of PDT?
Because PDT is a relatively new therapy, the long
term risks have not been evaluated. Short term risks include transient
burning, redness, stinging, and swelling. As with any medication,
there is always a risk of an allergic reaction. You need to discuss
the side effects in detail with your physician.
How long after a PDT before I can return
to normal activities?
Usually, you can return to normal activities immediately
How much does PDT cost?
The cost is variable and depends on many
different factors. You will have to discuss cost with your physician
and individual insurance carrier.
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