Recently, dermatologists have combined the use of lasers and light devices with photodynamic therapy (PDT) to achieve significantly enhanced results in the treatment of precancerous lesions and in photoaged skin. PDT using a topical medication called aminolevulinic acid (ALA) along with Blu-U light therapy has been approved by the FDA to treat actinic keratoses, the most common form of pre-cancerous skin lesions.
ALA is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. When applied topically, it is selectively absorbed into fast-growing, rapidly metabolizing epidermal cells, including photodamaged cells and actinic keratoses. ALA is converted into a powerful photosensitizer, which intensifies the effect of the laser/light on the treated skin.
Most often the ALA is applied to the skin for 30-60 minutes prior to the laser/light treatment. This is known as short contact PDT.
Short contact photodynamic therapy treatment often begins with a mild microdermabrasion. This reduces dead skin cells on the surface of the face, allowing for better penetration of the aminolevulinic acid.
Short contact photodynamic therapy treatments can yield cosmetic improvements in patients with long-term sun damage. It typically improves the discoloration, broken capillaries, enlarged pores, fine lines and pre-cancerous actinic keratoses associated with sun damage. In fact, in combination with the Levulan® Kerastick® (aminolevulinic acid HCl) for Topical Solution, 20%, (Levulan PDT) a BLU-U treatment is indicated for the treatment of minimally to moderately thick actinic keratoses of the face or scalp.
Photodynamic therapy is generally very well-tolerated. Most patients experience minimal to mild discomfort during the treatment. The recovery stage, typically consisting of redness, generally lasts a few days. Generally one to two treatments with PDT are done.
If you have any questions concerning photodynamic treatment, Austin skin and vein center Zimmet Dermatology can provide you with more information. Contact us here or call (512) 485-7700.